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Not enough being done to reduce call waiting times ‘due to Covid’ finds survey

UK businesses that attribute long call waiting times to ‘unprecedented demand due to Covid’ are leaving customers unimpressed, according to new research.

The survey of 1000 people by outsourced comms company Moneypenny reveals that 85 per cent of people believe UK businesses are blaming long call and live chat wait times on Covid, despite being almost a year into the pandemic.

The survey indicates the average length of time customers have to wait for calls and live chat requests to be answered – 18 per cent said they have to wait 1-5 minutes and 23 per cent have to wait 5-10 minutes, while 6 per cent have to wait 45-60 minutes and 19 per cent typically give up waiting altogether.

While 55 per cent of people believe some phone delays are acceptable due to Covid – there were some notable sector, age and regional differences.

  • Utility companies were most frequently mentioned as being the worst at answering calls (33 per cent) – followed by doctors (27 per cent), banks (25 per cent) and phone companies (21 per cent).  Those mentioned least were legal firms (6 per cent) and estate and letting agents (5 per cent).
  • 73 per cent of 16-24 year olds said phone answering delays are acceptable, compared with 45 per cent of over 55 year olds.
  • 61 per cent of those in Greater London said phone answering delays are acceptable, compared with 42 per cent in the North East and 48 per cent in the South East.
  • Welsh customers are most likely to give up waiting for their call to be answered (22 per cent), compared with those least likely to in Yorkshire (12 per cent) and the South East (14 per cent).

Group CEO of Moneypenny, Joanna Swash, believes companies are not doing enough to resolve waiting times.  She said: “Saying that unprecedented demand due to Covid  is the reason for long wait times is the same as telling customers they are not important – and our data shows that customers recognise this too.  Meeting demand is imperative to business survival, now more than ever.

“It’s interesting that legal and property companies were least likely to be mentioned for poor answering times and we know from our clients in these sectors that they prioritise good customer service. However, the survey shows that the pandemic is being used as a scapegoat for poor customer care.”

She added: “Even with reduced staff through redundancies and furloughing, there are so many cost effective solutions available to ensure customer calls and live chat can continue, it’s not good enough for companies to reduce service levels an expect customers to be happy.  As businesses open up there is a real danger that customers will vote with their feet and move to a competitor if poor service levels continue.”


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