Why don't companies phone you back?

  superhoops 16:43 27 Jul 08
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Is it just me? Practically every time when I phone a company about something and it can't be resolved there and then, they say "I will ring you back later". They then don't ring and you have to ring them back yet again and often go through the whole story again.
Latest occurrence was on Thursday when I had to ring Samsung about my new F400 mobile. It is advertised as supporting streaming video (BBC news site etc). Every site I have tried doesn't work and I get the error message that my phone isn't supported. First of all the girl tells me that if thats what the error messages say then the phone doesn't support streaming video. I said would you like to check your advertising for this phone. Two minutes later she admitted that it should work. "Don't worry, I will test a F400 on a website and ring you back asap". That was Thursday lunchtime.

I have also had it recently with BT and the Gas Board. Surely if you promise a customer you will phone back then you should do it????

  oresome 16:57 27 Jul 08

There is no ownership of a problem with call centres. Each time you ring, it's a different operator.

  interzone55 17:07 27 Jul 08

Call centres are usually inbound only, ie the operators cannot make out-going calls.

If a problem demands a call-back then this is handled by a second line operative, and there are a lot less of these than there are front line operatives, and often there are so many calls to make some get dropped.

A lot of my job involves talking to customers and I get a lot of message slips requesting call backs and often I just can't manage to call everyone. Generally I'll try once and if I get an answering machine I'll leave a message and if I don't get a call back the message slip goes in the bin.

  spuds 20:29 27 Jul 08

Have you ever noticed how a company 'can' phone you, when the are trying to sell something. Once you are a customer??.

I remember a few years ago,there was a similar discussion, and someone on this forum was saying "once their company reached the daily quota of emails, the rest were deleted". Apparently, this was a daily occurrence.

  bluto1 22:02 27 Jul 08

They just don't care.

  Forum Editor 23:44 27 Jul 08

for corporate clients, at which I talk to customer-facing staff about this very thing - communicating via the phone.

In an ideal world all enquiries would be dealt with on the first call - what I refer to as 'opening and closing' - and the customer would go away happy. The person taking the call gets a little flood of relief as he/she realises that this is an easy one, and is able to offer an immediate resolution - the call ends with both parties having a little glow of satisfaction.

Often that can't happen, the person receiving the call realises that this is something that can't be resolved without reference to a colleague, a superior, or without some further investigation - the decision is made to offer a call-back, even before the caller has finished speaking.

What happens then is of crucial importance - the call receiver must act before taking another call. If that doesn't happen the outcome is almost a self-fulfilling prophesy; the call will be forgotten as the call receiver moves on to another caller, and another problem - and so it goes on. It's absolutely essential to ensure that staff do not leave an unresolved problem on one side, because the chances are it will be forgotten, or even worse - deliberately ditched.

That's why call-logging is so helpful to business managers - they can monitor problem resolution, and they have an audit trail if something goes wrong. They know who took the call, and who did nothing about it.

The value of returning calls cannot be overstated, and I advise clients to make a rule that call receivers must phone customers back within 30 minutes at most, even if it's to say 'I don't have the answer yet, but I'm calling to reassure you that I haven't forgotten'. You can create an enormous amount of goodwill in that way, and once people get used to the fact that they must speak to the customer in half an hour anyway they are additionally motivated to make sure they have something to say. It works, but sometimes it's an uphill battle to get everyone on board.

  birdface 06:51 28 Jul 08

Probably they make money when you phone them.A good example is British Gas they will pass you from department to department and you finish back where you started from.Most of those companies use high rate or premium rate phone numbers so actually make money on phone calls.It would be nice if they did phone you back occasionally to tell you that they have acknowledged and sorted your problem.But it does not happen very often.

  interzone55 08:42 28 Jul 08

Hopefully this will stop with the wider adoption of 03 numbers, these number generate no revenue for the company.

A point FE made about organising the call back before another call comes in is very important, but not always possible.

I'll give you an example of the volumes of calls I sometimes have to deal with...

My main role is pre-sales advice & quoting, so I handle a lot of calls both in & out, but I also need some downtime for typing up quotes.

A couple of months back, whilst my colleague was away I handled a shade over 40 hours of calls in a single week, which isn't bad, especially as I only work 37.5 hours. Whilst I had some many calls coming in there was no chance of making outgoing calls because I never had a free line...

  spuds 11:47 28 Jul 08

Regarding what the FE said about communicating with the customer is very true, and it should be a basic standard business practise.

Recently I was virtually in daily contact with Tiscali (the ISP I use). I wasn't phoning them, but they were contacting me about resolving a service problem. That simple gesture went a very long way, with me thinking in terms of cancelling my service agreement, to one of " They are worth another chance".

The only downside, was some of the return calls were pre-arranged others were not, which made it slightly inconvenient on the odd occasion that it happened. But having said that, even when the main person I was dealing with reported in sick, one of their colleagues stepped in and took over the case file for that day, another colleague took over the next day.All this made me feel that I was more than just a customer, and I think that it paid dividends, both for the company and myself.

  Forum Editor 18:30 28 Jul 08

Pre-sales and quoting is a good example of the kind of area where the calling dialogue can go wrong, and for the reasons you've given - pre-sales enquiries are prioritised, and often there are so many inbound calls that people say 'I don't have time' to make all my call-backs.

My answer to that is usually 'you can only sell something once' and if you miss a sale because you're busy taking the next call you're simply deferring the sales opportunity. Taken to an extreme it would mean that you only made sales that could be closed on the first call.

I tell clients that pre-sales calls should not come so fast that their staff can't make call-backs. If it happens regularly there's something wrong with the staffing level, or with the marketing strategy - why are so many call-backs necessary?

  Forum Editor 18:46 28 Jul 08

With large organisations call-filtering is a constant problem. When do you stop adding menu options and start training people to have a wider ranging skill-set, so callers can stay with the same person and resolve a range of problems?

Smaller companies have an advantage here - I regularly do business with a company that has only three customer-facing staff on the phone. You dial in and select from three options - each of which is dealt with by one person. Deal with them for a year and you know each individual by name - a personal relationship develops and it's a pleasure to talk to them; they're fast, efficient and friendly, it's the perfect way to communicate.

You can be that way with three people and a thousand callers a month, but you can't do the same thing when you're inbound call rate is running at a thousand a day - something has to give. What gives is all too often the friendliness, and that's perfectly OK as long as the other two (speed and efficiency) are in place. Drop one of those however, and you're in immediate trouble. People will put up with a fair amount of "I'm really sorry, I know how irritating this is for you, but I can't give you a result right now". What they won't put up with is "No, I can't do anything - talk to someone else".

I could go on, but you get the picture - it's all about 'I'm going to try to sort this - it'll take a little while, so I'm going to call you back. My name is Sue, and I'll call you within half an hour.'

Deal with people like that (and make the call, even if it's to say that you have nothing to report), and you'll have them where you want them to be - on your side, and willing to compromise. Mr. Angry customer will become a pussy cat.

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