You may have heard about the outrage caused in the past week when a mobile phone company introduced a new charge for contacting its call centre. Basically it’s offering customers the choice of paying an extra 50p to skip the queue when calling customer service.

An automated message invites customers on ‘pay monthly on Sim-only’ plans to pay the fee to get answered quicker. However, many say it’s not acceptable for this company to offer to provide for a fee what really should be a standard level of customer service. The company argues that all calls will still be answered as quickly as possible but the 50p tier would be priority customers.

What is your view on this?

No business can afford to have unhappy customers and it has to be geared up to provide excellent customer service to all. But it’s often not what you do – it’s how you do it. It’ll be interesting to watch how the story rolls out for this mobile phone company going forward – other businesses might take up the idea; after all it’s done at theme parks and airports.

There are fundamental considerations here though. For example, if your customers are stuck in massive queues trying to get answers from you:

  • Have you got the right contact centre technology? Is it correctly set up to reduce queues and keep customers informed?
  • Have you got services which offer the customer the chance to leave their number and receive a call back or ‘hang up’ but maintain their position in the queue?
  • Have you tried blending advisors between inbound and outbound during peak times to optimise resources?
  • If you use multichannel, are all the channels joined up so that advisors have access to the full customer history and can work efficiently?
  • Are all agent desktops streamlined with apps to reduce the amount of screens they need to use, reducing queues and making them more effective?

These are just some key items to ensure you’ve got a tight ship – plan for all eventualities and invest in both your people and your technology if you don’t want mutiny.