Why are big call centres so useless?

Mar 17th, 2005   10:08 am

In my experience, I don’t find I need to ring the call centres of large companies too often. When I do, it’s either for a mundane task such as a change of address, or it’s for something very technical that I can’t figure out or fix. With my background, the latter types of calls are usually spent trying to prove to someone there is a problem!!!

I rang o2 the other day to downgrade my Options tariff (thanks to Skype!!). The pleasant (but obviously stressed) lady answered my call, and a very short while later was banging on her keyboard to effect my request. When downgrading she asked me if I wanted to keep my Free Voicemail as a free extra, to which I said yes. She confirmed the new tariff, and the chosen free extra twice and asked me to stay on the line while that went through. Less than 15 seconds later she confirms it has, and asks is there anything more she can do. Off I go, having had a rare pleasant experience from a call centre (and o2 do always seem to be pleasant, for some reason.. every tried ringing eircom or ntl? I’ve never felt I’ve been anything other than grossly inconveniencing them).

But wait! The free voicemail extra doesn’t make the downgrade process. I had it, I’m still entitled to it under my new tarrif, she confirms the selection twice, she waits to confirm it has gone through, and yet still it hasn’t.

I’ve only had to ring eircom DSL support 3 times. I kid you not when I say each of those 3 times I’ve had to educate the representative on some basic internet concepts. eircom’s DNS servers disappear for more than an hour so I call. After the initial reaction that they couldn’t possibly be unavailable, I explain that I’m an experience systems administrator, and that I can explain how to check, if he doesn’t believe me. He’s game or, in other words, he still doesn’t believe me, nor does he have the technical ability to check. So we go through a brief tracert (yes, he was using Windows, *sigh*!!) and nslookup tutorial and he openly admits that he’s in way over his head here, but does see the point I’m making. Is he appreciative of me taking the time to explain it to him? No, he’s very stand-off-ish. Am I surprised? No.

It’s like the staff in Peats (and some still, to this day, are the very same). If you ask for something they’re not technically comfortable with, they won’t ask anyone else or, for a second, admit they don’t know. Try “Hi, do you have PCI graphics cards?” the next time you’re in there.. the reaction I got was hilariously misleading.

I’ve noticed that ignorance as in manners and ignorance as in lack of knowledge go hand in hand for some reason, there should be a research project in there somewhere!!! Why is it though, that I can’t remember a single experience where I got off the phone satisfied of the response, and comfortable in the knowledge that my request was been dealt with.. ever?

(It’s Paddy’s Day, sorry Saint Patrick’s Day, so I have no intention of ringing o2 until tomorrow!!)