01 May 1998

A CHRONIC SHORTAGE of skilled staff is hitting the burgeoning call centre industry, according to a study by the Henley Centre and sponsored by Cable & Wireless Communications. The survey alleges that customer dissatisfaction is running at unacceptable levels, with more than one in ten calls leaving customers 'irritated, annoyed or furious'. This is especially rife in the media, utilities and insurance sectors. The Henley Centre argues that some companies running in-house call centres would do better to abandon them, so great is the damage caused to their reputations and business prospects: 'The risks and rewards to companies relying on call centres can be substantial. The effect of ignoring poor service can be dramatic on a company’s revenues and profits.' A specially created financial model based on a notional company with sales of £3.7 billion over a five year period, suggests that customer defections and adverse word-of-mouth due to call centre problems could lose sales of £1.8bn and reduce profits by £330 million.