I am starting to make a list of all the new technologies that make life worse. Take car park machines, for instance. They used to be simple: you put in some coins, pressed a button and out popped a ticket. Not any more. You now need an app – no, not that one, a different one! – with all your car and payment information pre-loaded. What used to take seconds now takes several minutes.

I have other contenders, including coffee pods, e-scooters and e-cigarettes.

There is one clear winner, however: call centres. Call centre technology should have enabled organisations to dramatically improve levels of customer service. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. According to research by Bain Consulting, over 70% of call centre executives said that their companies fail to meet their customers’ expectations.

Do customers who are dissatisfied with call centres call the call centres to complain? Perhaps that’s the reason why every call centre I contact is “experiencing significantly higher call volumes,” and telling me to expect a longer than average hold time!

I can only think that executives are far happier using call centres to lower costs rather than improve their customers’ experience. The really depressing thing is that, over time, this cost-first approach seems to have won. Our expectations have fallen so far that we now all expect to be hanging on the phone for 30 minutes or more, listening to all four sections of Nigel Kennedy’s rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Concerto, before someone in the call centre answers.

I also feel sorry for the folk that work in these centres. Rather than being seen as a mission-critical ambassadors of the brand, they work in centres that are both figuratively and geographically at the edge of the organisation. Under-staffed, under-resourced and under-loved, the opportunity for these people to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and spending is repeatedly squandered.

I’m sure that some businesses do a better job, but it doesn’t seem to be any of the organisations that I or my family use.

How does your organisation rate on customer service, and does your call centre service add to or detract from your customers’ experience?

Of course, you may not agree with me on this matter. If so, please feel free to call me on 01636-526111. Don’t worry if I don’t pick up on the first ring, I will get back to you. After all, your call is important to me, please hold!

Off The Record: Your Call’s Very Important To Us, Please Hold by Sparks

At first she said, “Your call is very important to us,”

And then she said, “Please hold, please hold.”

I’m getting mixed signals, mixed signals!