Tagged With call centres

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When you're looking for support about the NBN, your download speeds, centrelink, bill payments - basically any situation where you have to physically call somebody for help - the worst thing that can happen is that you end up speaking to an automated call centre. You get stuck in an endless loop of 'yes' and 'no', gradually infuriating yourself more and more.

But there is a way to get through to a real person much quicker.

Swear.

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Senior staff from the Department of Human Services told Senate estimates on March 2 that the average wait time to speak to a Centrelink operator is 14 minutes and 10 seconds. But this doesn’t match with most people’s experiences of calling Centrelink.

As it turns out, what’s not included in the reported wait time is probably more important than what is.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Telstra has had a rough week. First, the company pulled back its support for same sex-marriage after pressure from the Catholic Church; one of its biggest clients. Then, a Telstra customer service representative identified homosexuality as an "ideology" and not a sexuality during online correspondence with a customer. It wasn’t the best choice of words, but it’s likely the Telstra representative did not understand the sensitivity of the issue at hand because he worked in an overseas call centre. Simply put, there are some things you can't train for.

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According to new research commissioned by cloud software provider Zendesk, customer-facing self-service technologies are all the rage. This infographic explains how more and more consumers are ditching call centres in favour of servicing themselves. After all, who needs the human touch when your hands can get the job done by themselves? (We mean on a keyboard, you grots.)

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We have all had at least one bad experience with dialling through to an Australian firm's call centre. A long wait. Finally an operator. Answering lots of questions the firm already has in their database. Getting disconnected as they transfer you to another division, and then having to start all over again.

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Dear Lifehacker, I have desperately been trying to contact Adobe over a problem with my Creative Cloud account. I figured support would be local (I thought that was a justification for the higher price). However, the call centre is in India. I have had excellent service from Indian call centres before, but here I'm stuck : no matter how hard I try to spell it out they cannot understand my email address. They tell me to hang up and try again. What can I do? I can't find anybody local to talk to. Thanks, Can't Get Through

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Automation in call centres can be an efficient way to route a call, but it can equally be incredibly frustrating when you have a problem that falls outside the usual boundaries. Here's how to get to talk to a real person for a variety of Australian financial institutions.

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Dear Lifehacker, It seems like every large company I have to deal with these days is more interested in getting me off the phone and telling me that there's no one who can help me than they are in keeping their customers. When I call my phone company or my bank, they run me around for even the simplest questions. I've all but given up hope. How do I find someone who will actually listen? Thanks, The Little Guy

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Nobody is likely to list ringing a call centre in their favourite life activities, but it's not a particularly joyous occupation for the 200,000-odd Australians who work in them either. Here's 10 facts that might give you pause the next time you're about to let fly during a call.

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Talking to a bank call centre is even less fun than root canal work, so I think National Australia Bank might be onto something with its trial of a completely automated online chat support service. Simon Sharwood at the Smart Call podcast chatted with NAB's head of direct channels Tim Cullen, and Cullen revealed that the bank has been trialling computer-based chat support. The IM agent has a growing knowledge base of common queries, but can hand over to a human support agent if it can't work out what's going on.