UK customers are famously good at queueing; that doesn’t mean we enjoy it

  • BLOG POST
  • 19/07/2019
The on-hold music, the umpteen different enquiry lines, the automated voice that says “we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes”; does the call centre experience really need to be so painful?

Peek inside a modern contact centre, and you’ll usually still see a segmented setup; one department for account review, one for security checks, and so on.

This siloed structure is counterproductive and only lengthens waiting times for customers on the line. With siloed lines of banking onboarding, for instance, customers may wonder why they’re having to duplicate the same information for different officers. Or there may be a long line of customers inexplicably on hold at the security check stage, where there happens to be a bottleneck buildup of cases waiting. 

Breaking this linear structure with cross-functional models is the solution. An integrated ticketing system – whereby each station has access to expert knowledge wherever it’s needed – means customers can be fast-tracked out of their excruciating queues. True, we may be renowned in the UK for our queueing etiquette – but that doesn’t mean we like it.


Smooth operators

Platform technology, rather than siloed software, is what can gift businesses this knowledge sharing and operational alignment across divisions, so that each station can handle tasks wherever demand is highest – whether in account review, security checks or new account enquiries.

In the outdated model, customers who select “option 3” could be done and dusted while customers who select “option 4” are listening to a loop of Mozart’s Symphony No.4. But with a platform of centralised expert knowledge made accessible across each call centre department, the Mozart-on-hold music can be canned altogether.

If the customer experience is “the new battleground”, as is so often acknowledged, then call centre agents are the troops on the frontline – and they need to be properly armed with the right information, at the right time. Providing best-in-class customer service while keeping operational costs low is a big ask. But when call centre managers fail to fully utilise quantitative models or workflow management to optimise their operation, it becomes an impossible ask.


We still need a human touch

Many have trialled automated online messaging systems, but with mixed results. Consumers love the convenience of messaging, but struggle with its experience silo, according to a study conducted by YouGov on behalf of eGain, based on responses from 1,777 consumers in the US and UK.

43% hated repeating information across agents or when escalating to other channels; 28% struggled with the speed of response; and 23% were stumped by the relevance of response.

Ultimately, a well-informed and timely assistant with a human touch, rather than underdeveloped chatbots, remains an unbeatable formula.


Unite competing truths with centralised knowledge and cross-functional workflows

Too often, call centre agents work in silos with a criminal lack of communication across departments, and end up either repeating or – even worse – contradicting each other. This is especially troublesome when a wrong decision early on impacts the rest of the customer journey and leads to increased operational costs. For example, decisions on whether an agent should work a file – which incurs additional costs – or wait for other parties to provide additional information are often made on a merely arbitrary basis.

These are decisions that should be backed-up by best-practise company logic, which employees can’t all be expected to possess – particularly when churn rates are high. Like binding glue, cross-functional, integrated workflows and centralised knowledge can turn a siloed call centre into an agile and cohesive operation. Most importantly of all, customers can begin to say goodbye to the phrase: we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes”.