What’s worse than a call centre agent ringing right at dinner time? A call centre agent ringing right at dinner time and then repeatedly calling you “Angus”. The aim of that approach seems to be enforced familiarity, but it turns out that neither customers nor call centre workers enjoy the experience. Because most call centre staff are trained to use an ultra-social, North American approach, the whole thing quickly goes astray, according to a new Oxford University study. As researcher Dr Katrina Hultgren explained to the Daily Telegraph:
The problem is that agents are under pressure to process customers as quickly as possible, so they are inclined to opt for ways of creating rapport which can be done speedily. This tends to be by using the customer’s name as it’s quicker than engaging them in small talk. As a customer, we then have the impression of our name being overused and feel uncomfortable.
Aside from the intrusion, what gets your goat about call centre interactions? Share your experiences — and tactics for getting rid of them — in the comments. (I’ve sunk to hanging up without a word these days.) To improve your day-to-day interactions, check out our top 10 conversation hacks.