When was the last time recorded customer phone calls were really used for training and monitoring customer services?

My teenage son calls me weird. I talk to random strangers on the train, tube, bus stops etc. I rarely text or whatsapp – preferring instead to have a phone conversation and I leave voicemail messages, which my son tells me is an ancient thing to do. I am fascinated to learn about people, their dreams, fears, values and motivations and I always make a point of remembering something really interesting about people  –  which makes up for my embarrassing inability to remember names.

As a customer, I understand the lure of automated systems and processes which are designed to make customer service quicker, especially for every day mundane activities. On occasions when my customer query/request is slightly more complicated than pressing a combination of buttons, I enjoy an intelligent conversation with a human rep in service / operations/ call centres and almost always get an excellent customer service…which I appreciate a lot. Yesterday, my run of good luck ran out and after waiting in the phone queue for 5 minutes to be put through to a UK advisor of a major organisation, I had the misfortune of being allocated a person  (let’s call him ‘Mr Grumpy’)  who clearly didn’t want to be there, and clearly hadn’t heard the great quotation :  “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

After a frustrating 23 minute dialogue battle (where I had to ask Mr Grumpy, at least 3 times, to allow me to finish my sentence before he jumped in),  I requested to speak to another advisor and he put me on hold for another 6 minutes before someone else ( more courteous but less experienced) came and we started the process from scratch. I enjoyed the 2nd experience with ‘Mr Courteous’ much more. He made up in attitude for his lack of experience and was open and honest enough to admit that one of my requests was new to him and that he needed to consult. He put me on hold a couple of times as he conferred with his supervisor. I didn’t mind at all. I appreciated that he was taking the time to understand where I was coming from instead of fobbing me off with an attitude designed to make me feel stupid.

I remembered that whilst I was in the queue before being assigned Mr Grumpy,  a recorded  message had advised, “Please note, calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes”, so I decided to do my own monitoring. I decided to ask for a copy of the entire recorded conversation with both Mr Grumpy and Mr Courteous . I wanted to firstly see if I could learn something myself about how I had approached both conversations and secondly to see how I could use this evidence to nominate Mr Grumpy for a customer service refresher training. I was informed that the process for getting  this transcript would take a further few minutes whilst Mr Courteous searched for, and completed, the requisite form. Apparently, no-one has ever requested for this before. By the time we finished,  I had been on the phone for a total of 53 mins 31 secs –  end to end!!! I was grateful that  my teenage son wasn’t around. He would have smugly rebranded my patience as a damning confirmation of my weirdness.

I asked Mr Courteous how long it would take to receive the transcript and  was told 7 working days!

I would be interested in hearing from:

  • Any customer who has ever asked for a copy of a recorded phone conversation. Was your customer experience smooth? What did you learn?
  • Any staff member or Manager of a service centre or operation which records customer phone conversations with staff. How often, if ever, have recorded calls been used for “training or monitoring” customer service processes? What were the outcomes of these? Were any changes made as a result?
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