Top call centre complaints – older people affected most by poor service

Banks continue to shut branches forcing people to use call centres, here are the top annoyances of telephone banking.
top call centre complaints
Call centre complaints: Older people unwilling to tolerate poor customer service.

A new survey shows that companies still aren’t answering their phones, messages aren’t being passed on, phone numbers aren’t being listed on websites, and annoying ‘on hold’ music continues to drive people round the bend.

With the news that NatWest is shutting another 200 branches across the UK, more people will be pushed into managing their bank accounts through call centres and online. This might work well for younger age groups, but for older people who prefer to have face to face engagement this is another step in the wrong direction and will increase their sense of isolation and feelings of being ignored by service providers.

The survey* conducted by global communications company Moneypenny, showed that the top gripe from consumers trying to call businesses, at 43%, was phone calls not being answered, followed by annoying hold music at 35%.

An additional survey showed that classical music was the most annoying type of music to listen to while on hold. Further call centre complaints revealed by the survey were:

  • Complex automated phone messages 30%
  • Being told to check the website 30%
  • Having to leave a voicemail 23%
  • Feeling rushed and not listened to 21%
  • Background call centre noise 19%

The degree of irritation experienced by the caller seems to increase with age, as the survey showed that calls not being answered is the most annoying factor for older people: more than 52% of all over 56 years reported this, compared with 30% of 16-24s, and 36% of 25-40 year olds. Older people are also most irritated by annoying hold music – reported by 44% of over 66 year olds, compared with 39% of 57-66 year olds and only 26% of 16-24 year olds.

No contact numbers among call centre complaints

Another huge bugbear revealed by the survey is that 89% of those surveyed said they get frustrated when businesses don’t include a phone number on their website.
However, despite poor call experience being a chief ingredient of call centre complaints, the phone is still king when it comes to the preferred method of communicating with a business, voted for by 28% of those surveyed.

While the phone remains the most popular communication method, the survey showed the number of calls to companies is declining, but the calls themselves are lasting longer. Almost 30% of those surveyed said they are making fewer calls to businesses than they did three years ago, yet 44% said their calls are longer.

Businesses ignore the importance of good call handling at their peril, and managing calls properly is more important than ever, as the survey suggests consumers call up when it’s really important:

  • 38% if it was an urgent matter
  • 33% if it was a complicated matter
  • 17% if it was sensitive
  • 15% if short on time

Perhaps not surprisingly, older people are more likely to call a company than younger: 43% of Baby Boomers (57-66 years) and 48% of over 66 year olds, compared to 21% of 16-24 year olds and 25% of 25-40 year olds.

In contrast, younger people are more likely to use social media to contact a company: 15% of 16-24s compared to 2% of 57-66 year olds.

Poor service has an impact

The survey suggests women are more likely to call a company if it’s important, with 46% saying they’d call if they need to discuss an urgent matter, compared to 36% of men who would do so.

The power of a phone call in delivering excellent customer service is also shown in the fact that 77% of those surveyed said a great call experience is a positive differentiator for a company.

Similarly, a bad call experience could have repercussions on customer loyalty:

  • 36% would take their business elsewhere
  • 35% would complain to the business
  • 26% would spread the word to friends and family
  • 22% would call again and ask to speak to someone else
  • 24% would write a negative review

Older generations seem to be far more likely to take their business elsewhere as a result of poor call handling: 44% of over 66 year olds and over 42% of 57-66 year olds, compared with 27% of 16-24 year olds.

Businesses seem willing to accept delivering a poor customer service to older consumers provided there is a cost saving to themselves. The move of NatWest and other banks to close more local branches risks isolating and disempowering older people at a time of increased worry caused by the government’s cost of living crises.

For those that cannot or will not deliver the level of service that older people require, the consequence will be that thousands of the UK’s most wealthy age cohort will vote with their feet and shift to brands that values them more highly.

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Read the full Moneypenny call trends report.

Tags: , Last modified: October 14, 2022

Written by 11:23 am News & Views