Oh Really?

New independent research, commissioned by fifty of the UK’s leading call centres, shows that 93% of their customers get through to the call centre on their first attempt. This figure rose to 98% in the retail sector, followed by 95% in the financial services and entertainment, leisure and travel sectors. The public sector performed least well at 87%, lagging behind the telecoms and utilities sector at 90%.

Even more impressive, a staggering 96% of customer enquiries were resolved by the initial call. The retail sector performed best in this area, achieving a 98% first call resolution rate, closely followed by the financial services and telecoms & utilities sectors at 97%. The figure fell to 92% in the Public Sector, four per cent below the entertainment, travel and leisure sector in fourth place.

The findings are taken from the largest ever mystery shopper exercise in the call centre industry, conducted by independent Market Research Company GfK NOP. Full findings will be published in October 2008. Twenty thousand calls were made to the fifty call centres who have signed up to the Top 50 Call Centre initiative, which aims to recognise good practice and raise customer service standards across the industry.

The survey showed it takes on average just 1.3 minutes for customers of the Top 50 Call Centres to get through to speak to an actual person. The figure includes time waiting to get through, as well as time spent selecting IVR or touch-tone options, before getting through to a customer service representative.

On an encouraging note, 58% of callers in the survey got through to a Customer Service Representative in less than one minute. The retail sector provided the fastest time to get through for customers, with 74% of callers getting through within 60 seconds, closely followed by the financial services sector at 60%. The telecoms and utilities sector was the lowest performing, at 52%, just ahead of the entertainment, leisure and travel and public sectors, both at 53%.

A small percentage of customers, at 5% had to wait over five minutes to get through to a call centre representative. However, interestingly, over one in four of these callers said they are extremely satisfied by their experience. This finding suggests that UK consumers can still be won over by good service, even if they have to wait in a call centre queue.

Organisations who have signed up to the Top 50 Call Centre initiative include: Boots, BUPA, Cambridgeshire County Council, Comet, Co-operative Financial Services, Direct Line, DVLA, EDF Energy, Eurostar, First Direct, Holiday Extras, ING Direct, John Lewis Direct, Kent County Council, Laithwaites, LEGO, Lloyds TSB Insurance, M&S Direct, Nationwide Direct, O2 UK, P&O Ferries, Prudential, Specsavers Optical Superstores, Surrey County Council, Tesco Personal Finance, Thomas Cook, United Utilities, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Vodafone.

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