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Customer Service thru Call Centers - Are They Making Lives of Indian Customers any Easier?

Aug 18, 2007
We all have to fall back on call centers these days whenever we need some help or information for our bank accounts, mobile services or tour itineraries as we don't have the time to visit the relevant department. But the experience is seldom satisfactory and many people believe that customer service over telephone simply does not work in this country. Of course we cannot ignore the convenience of 24/7 but how far can we expect to get our queries resolved by the call center agents?

My personal experience is that simple queries like the balance of a savings account or payment due date of a mobile telephone bill can be handled by a call center. In fact most of the call centers had IVR facility and you even need not interact with an agent as the machine will read out the balance or due bill amount. But when it comes to taking a decision the efficiency level of call centers drop drastically and most of the time the outcome is very frustrating.

Usually a phone banking customer has access to internet and so to me the IVR is not so much of a value addition as one can check the same information in the web. So what is really expected of a call center are the queries which an automated system cannot resolve and needs human intervention. For example why my credit card was charged twice or my phone bill is not being mailed to me and in these kinds of cases the call centers are not really meeting the customer expectation.

I have a very bad experience with the country's leading mobile services provider; I used to get my mobile bill to my email and since last few months the bills are not mailed to me when I had to take the initiative and report to the call center. I am still struggling to get this resolved despite repeated calls and emails, and for the past 3 months I am paying them in spite of not getting the bill just because I cannot afford to have my phone disconnected. Every time I call them I have to tell my problem from scratch and they assure me of sending all my bills and provide me with a token number but nothing has happened yet.

Nothing can be more frustrating than this and I have discovered after searching some product review sites that I am probably not alone. There are hundreds of customers suffering miserably at the hands of these call center agents as the agents cannot offer any solution to their woes and matters even get more complicated and confusing. In most of the cases it seems that the call center agents have no clue about the business processes and they just give misleading information and false assurances without understanding or studying the problems or cases.

The companies are heavily investing on the call centers but the investment so far is concentrated on infrastructure whereas the need clearly lies in the area of training and development of staff members. What is required for the call center staff is a good understanding of the business process and adequate supervision but that is unfortunately completely ignored. The BPOs have failed to provide process training to agents so that they can help customers and are simply providing some computers, network, CRM software and an accent training which is definitely not adequate for setting up a customer help line.

My experience with India's No. 1 travel portal help desk was even more pathetic. I made an internet booking about 6 months back thru their website and when after 24 hours I was not mailed the e-ticket I was desperate to speak to a call center agent. I had to wait for more than 3 hours to finally get hold of one agent as either the numbers were busy or I was put on hold and finally disconnected. I was almost missing my flight and after that I promised myself never again with last minute tickets online.

There are numerous bad experiences like this with call centers and I think people are learning to avoid them and depend more on physical presence to get their queries answered and problem solved. It is no doubt a great concept that can make the life of the companies and customers better but unfortunately the companies have a long way to go before being able to really help their customers thru help desks. Right now the call centers are nothing but a bunch of unsupervised fresh college pass outs who have no idea of what they are doing and in some way struggling to answer customer queries using their imagination and some limited information in the computer databases.
About the Author
Jaydeep Bhattacharjee writes on consumer issues concerning the Indian consumers. He is the founder of http://www.admanya.com - India's leading C2C portal. Admanya is free and it completely depends on consumer participation for its content. Join Admanya and be an empowered consumer. You can read or write a review about almost any product or service.
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