Call Centre Woes, But Still Preferred

Smiling formal male with laptop chatting via phone

A recent survey has found that 60 per cent of Malaysians were angry, frustrated, and annoyed when being put on hold by call centres with 56 per cent of respondents waiting more than 30 minutes to get a response.

The survey which was commissioned by Uniphore, a global leader in Conversational Service Automation (CSA) made the revelations from its latest COVID-era highlighting significant challenges faced by both consumers and customer service centres.

This includes consumer frustrations and missed opportunities for brands to deliver a better experience while building trust and loyalty across Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Malaysia.

Consumers are said to have high expectations when it comes to customer experience and were more comfortable with new technology and human delivery, the survey revealed.

“Call centres and customer experiences are a bellwether for consumer confidence and have become increasingly critical during the pandemic as an opportunity to build customer connections.

“Twenty-one per cent of consumers said they did not get their questions solved the first time when reaching out to a call centre.

“Contact centres are a lifeline for support on critical issues from healthcare to travel to commerce and one of the most powerful ways brands build customer loyalty.

“However, many consumers today still feel undervalued at the same time as call centre agents feel overwhelmed and under-resourced,” Uniphore Co-Founder & President (APAC) Ravi Saraogi said in a statement.

This survey commissioned by Uniphore was completed this January and was administered online.

It included a random sampling of 1,210 adults from across Japan and Asia-Pacific with representation across all age groups between 18 to 65-year-olds.

Almost a year into the pandemic, organisations across Asia-Pacific have transitioned to remote working.

This has led to businesses turning to the use of chatbots, interactive voice recording (IVR) and social media channels to communicate with consumers.

However, the survey data reveals that there is still a strong preference from local consumers (57 per cent) to speak to a live agent when reaching a company’s call centre about an issue.

Only 20 per cent of local consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot as their first interaction, with about 10 per cent of consumers indicating that they would reach out to a company via social media.

The two countries that trust remote agents the most are India (74.5 per cent) and Vietnam (75. per cent), with Singaporeans trusting remote agents the least at 37 per cent.

With the massive and rapid shift to remote work, 59 per cent claimed they trust contact centre agents with their personal information while working remotely.

“We can change this and empower call centre agents with technology and support that enables them to truly hear the voice of the customer and deliver personalised and impactful answers and support.

“It is clear that contact centre interactions present an opportunity for brands to build trust, loyalty and increase their customer base, but this is not happening for many brands.

“There is a disconnect between consumer frustrations with call centres and the solutions companies are offering can be solved by automation technologies,” Ravi added.

The survey results also showed that a growing number of consumers are open to trusting automation to improve their experiences with a company.

Fifty per cent of local respondents who contacted a call centre expect some type of post-call follow up, while 58 per cent would prefer an email.

With an increase in customers calling and a desire for more information from companies, agents will be overwhelmed by the amount of post-call work if they do not work hand-in-hand with their Artificial Intelligence (AI) co-workers.

Malaysia is moving in the right direction, 43 per cent of consumers already feel comfortable if companies use AI technologies to help the customer experience, especially if the technology is assisting a human agent.

Although when compared to India (78 per cent), and Vietnam (72.5 per cent), there is still much work to be done in Malaysia to better blend the human touch with machines working behind the scenes.

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