Why Customers Hate Call Centers?

Why do people hate call centers? Well, there are many influential factors, and we're going to find them out in this article.


Do you remember our article about IVR system optimization? It starts with the statement that most people hate the IVR solution, and there are many reasons for such a general opinion. But if we try to look deeper into the root of the problem, we will understand that not only IVR is hated by customers - the entire call center is hell for many customers, and they are ready to do anything they need to avoid calling it. 

What is the cause of this situation? Call centers are the most popular customer service department in the world, millions of people call these departments every day, but there are still a massive number of clients who would better leave alone with their problems than take the phone and call the support team. 

Is awful customer service the only reason for such disrespect and hate? Or maybe call center reps who look like “I hate customers and I hate customer service, and I hate working in a call center and I hate my call center job” are the ones who destroy the call center image? Why do people keep thinking of each customer service interaction as “call center hell to pass”?

This topic is probably one of the most difficult to describe and resolve. Even people who have ever worked as call center agents say that “call center jobs are the worst”. Anyhow, it is our goal for today and we’re not going to give up - no matter how complicated are the questions to answer. We will discover the main call center complaints examples, find out main customer service complaints examples and each poor business practice that ruins the call center image, discover how call center staff qualification and motivation influence the customer’s opinion of the department and service, and finally, highlight the main ways of resolution for all problems which make people hate your call center. 

Main problems why do people hate your call center

IVR problems

The first and most often problem is poor IVR(Interactive Voice Response) system design and development. In short, almost 61% of people hate IVR and think that it can do nothing but destroy the customer experience. And now, before you’ll start thinking about arguments to prove that the IVR system is useful, client-oriented, and easy to use, try to remember at least one experience when you loved the IVR service. A complicated task, isn’t it? That is a short question about why people hate IVRs - they just have never experienced a really well-designed system. 

What are the most popular problems with the IVR solution? First of all, it’s a poorly compiled menu that functions as a maze, not as an assistant - lengthy prompts, annoying phone menus, or even an issue with phone menus(don’t work, no “call an agent” option, poor voice recognition, etc.). People hate searching through numerous menu sections, and the main problem doesn’t lie in the fact that they can’t find what they need - they just don’t want to use the IVR system. No matter whether is it because hating IVR is a generally accepted prejudice, or because there are too few good IVR designs, the fact remains that people are just looking for that magic button to call an agent. And take into consideration that they are already frustrated with the fact they have to call a customer service representative, and now your IVR system adds more oil to the flame of call center stress. 54% of US customers say that they call the contact center just to reach the human agent, not to be imprisoned in the IVR prison. But if you think that this is the only problem to resolve, we’re going to upset you - to describe all things that make people hate your IVR system we have to write them down as a list:

  1. 63% of clients don’t want to listen to irrelevant options, and such options are included in every IVR menu, you know that as well as we do. 
  2. 65% of consumers in the US said that they don’t find a suitable menu section to meet the purpose of their call.
  3. 46% of customers in the US and around 37% in the United Kingdom mentioned that menu sections are too long. 
  4. 35% of the customers from the UK stated that they feel disrespected by the business that uses the IVR solution - just because the IVR system is time-consuming and offers no benefits, so it causes bad customer service experiences. 

Isn’t that enough to throw IVR away and never remember it? Don’t be that fast, the IVR system is a double-edged sword. The IVR solution can be liked and appreciated by customers, but if you follow some rules during designing it. 

How to resolve: Use the speech recognition option to let people forget about long menus and horrible customer service in the IVR interface. It would also solve the problem of the absence of needed menu sections, so customers will no more complain about it. Another advantage is that people will no more listen to useless options. Additionally, let people skip the IVR menu and go directly to the human call center representative from the early beginning of a call - without any navigation. Callback features should also be added. 

Call transferring

First of all, let’s deal with the definition. Call transfer is the switch of one call from one agent to another, in case of a need to talk with another department or to escalate a call. Thus, each time says “I’m going to transfer you to a more relevant agent”, he creates a call transfer. And, as you could guess, each call transfer consumes time, stops the conversation, and puts the customer into uncomfortable and unpleasant situations. Who’d like to be redirected again and again, and speak to numerous people to have your issue resolved? The customer isn’t a ball to be passed from side to side. It’s clear that people hate call transfers, and the only case, when they ask you to do it, is the call escalation - but in case of call escalation they hate your agent more than call transfer. Nonetheless, call transferring can’t be totally eliminated and you can do nothing but transfer some callers to the relevant department when there’s a need to do so. 

Anyhow, you have to work hard to reduce the number of phone calls transferred. Have you known that there are contact centers where two or three transfers per one call(!) are normal? It’s not only proof that hell really exists, but a good reason to think of optimizing your call routing rules. 

How to resolve: There are a few useful and proven tips to use to decrease the number of call transfers. Firstly, pay more attention to agent onboarding and training - most call transfers are needed when the agent is unable to resolve a customer issue, so he asks for the assistance of more experienced agents. Therefore, we have a simple axiom - if the agent is trained enough, he can solve a wider range of problems, and so the possibility of call transfer decreases. Another great idea is to implement the ACD system and smart routing - the only feature to link the call to an appropriate agent from the first attempt. ACD uses data collected from the IVR solution to understand the nature of customer requests and uses this data to choose the best agent to link the call. Also, use CRM base to link VIP callers directly to agents who are responsible for servicing high-net-worth customers. Use also screen pop-ups from the CRM system to let agents see all customer data and prepare for a more customer-oriented conversation. Another feature to help is call monitoring in its three modes. This is the feature that allows supervisors or call center managers to link to the call and be either hidden from both customer and agent (hidden mode), or only the agent will hear you (whispering mode), or both parties will hear you (barging-in mode). Yes, this feature is more about call escalation, but you avoid call transfers by using it, so there are more advantages than disadvantages. 

Request repeating

What can be more frustrating than repeating the same queries over and over again? But most customers have to pass through that at least once in life. People just hate repeating, but if we take into account that most customers call the customer service team to solve their problems, and they don’t have a few hours of free time to do that, we will understand why people are ready to explode from anger when they have to repeat the request. Firstly, customer service is a fast-developing industry, so almost everyone has a positive customer experience of having excellent customer service - without delays, stupid questions, and especially without a need to repeat themselves. Secondly, repeating complex customer inquiries makes people think that you don’t care about their problems. Is that too difficult to track that single request and give it to another operator to avoid unnecessary time spent? No. So why some companies don’t do that? The question is open-ended. The fact is that people want you to provide great service because they pay not only for the product but for assistance too. And when you make the client repeat his issue to several operators, you act as an unfair and careless service provider - it’s enough for customers to leave your brand and find someone more customer-oriented. 

How to resolve: The omnichannel approach is the best way to keep all data linked - even across distinct communication channels. Omnichannel call center differs from multichannel call center by only one characteristic: it doesn’t lose the progress of conversations while switching between channels. It means that if you are processing a chat with a customer and he asks for a call, the agent who still takes the call will know the chat history and such vital things, as the nature of the request, actions of previous agents which were focused on problem resolution, and also customer’s data from CRM system. Thus, when he will be connected to a customer he will say “Hi, Harry. I’m sorry for making you wait but we can process your refund here and now” instead of “Hi! How can I address you?” or “Hi! Say to me what are you having trouble with?”. 

Another great option to eliminate customer requests repeating is a greatly managed CRM system. If each agent fills in the data about customer requests during the call, the next one will see the information and provide the needed service without foolish questions and repeats. Moreover, a great CRM system can easily boost service personalization for current customers as you can welcome them and understand their interaction history from the first seconds of contact. 

Endless on-hold times

As you know, no one loves to wait - especially if someone makes you wait without an exact reason for it, and that is what makes on-hold times a customer nightmare. A person calls you with a problem, and as a customer, he has the privilege to be assisted and get his problem solved. That is the thing that makes customers happy - timely, respectful, and efficient service. But hold times, especially long hold times, are the main reason why angry customers hang up phone calls and hate your call center. Firstly, when contact center agents put the client on hold, he thinks of them as incompetent and poorly qualified specialists. And what would his opinion be of the whole department if agents can’t solve the issue quickly and efficiently? Customer satisfaction decreases with each on-hold case, and superior customer experience is impossible with using on-holds - they’re allowed only in situations where are no other ways to find the resolution. 

There are a few reasons for putting customers on hold. First of all, it happens when customer service reps use call transfer and we have already explained how to eliminate call transferring cases. Secondly, if an agent needs to find some information or contact another unit or specialist to get help, he puts clients on hold. Moreover, each on-hold second is paired with suffering from that awful music - to eliminate the customer anger of your music, just send them a survey of what they would like to listen to during waiting on hold. Additionally, keep in mind that it would be better to change on-hold music at least once a month. 

How to resolve: provide customer service agents with an effective and wide knowledge management system to let them find all potential problems in it in a few seconds. Besides, work on promise management - if agents say that on-hold would last for half a minute, they have to be back in half a minute, not in three or five minutes. 

Lengthy call queue waiting times

Call queues…the worst place on Earth, isn’t it? And some people have to spend over twelve minutes in a queue to get their issue resolved. Let us imagine a situation where you are a client of a car dealership and you have just bought a new costly crossover. Unfortunately, after the first few weeks of exploitation, you have noticed some technical issues with the transmission and the car fell down in emergency mode, so you can drive it no more. You try to call the dealer and ask him to replace the transmission under warranty, but you have to pass through call queues. Now summarize all factors: broken new car, frustration from the fact you can’t even drive to the dealership, and now the call queue that seems endless. Isn’t that enough to hate that dealership? And these are the feelings that visit many call center customers who come for assistance but are put into a call queue.

Most customers just don’t understand why they need to wait in queues, especially if they face this trouble repetitively. Doesn’t the business owner see that there are long queues? So why doesn’t he take any action to fix that? Such questions visit customers when they are in a queue, and to say the truth, most call centers really don’t care about queues - as well as they don’t care about their reputation and such “unimportant” things as customer loyalty, customer retention, customer churn, and customer engagement. 

How to resolve: implement a thoughtful and effective call queue management strategy. Offer callbacks, remind customers of their queue position and estimated wait times, and use a blended call center model to have the option to add agents to the inbound call queue if needed. Also, review your scheduling to find out when are the peak hours and highest call volumes and schedule more operators for these periods instead of keeping too many agents in the office during downtimes. Moreover, the implementation of some self-service options like chatbots or knowledge bases can greatly reduce the number of callers - as well as great IVR design will also let people solve their issues via the IVR itself without contacting an operator - a great and cost-efficient path to customer happiness. 

Horrible dial tone at the most important moment

Have you ever faced an issue when you call the contact center, get connected to customer service reps, and when everything is going to the resolution of an issue…call hangs up. Really? Is that possible in 2022? Unfortunately, yes. There are occasions when due to bad connection, software issues, miss-clicks, and other reasons calls are lost at the most inappropriate moments. And do you know what is the worst about this issue? Most call center agents just don’t have a right to initiate an outbound call to you, so they just delete the support ticket and you have to call again. Yes, there are call center managers who don’t see any connection between customer satisfaction and such issues. The way they think is something like: it’s your problem, and you need the resolution, so call again for it. The brand initiative is the greatest aspect of customer service, and when businesses act like that, you would better complete the customer journey with them and look for another company with better customer care techniques and approaches. 

How to resolve: create comprehensive customer profiles and add an option for agents to call those customers who have lost connection during the previous call for some reason. 

What should you do to make people love your call center?

Let’s now move to a more pleasant part of this story - how can you improve your call center, boost operational efficiency, eliminate negative experiences, and provide amazing customer service? 

Set up the ACD system for better routing

Uses the ACD system to link callers directly with relevant, skillful, and experienced agents. This solution gathers the data from the IVR system to understand what is the nature of customer inquiries and, based on it, connects the call to appropriate agents or departments. 

Invest in agent training

Invest more in reality-based agent training. Use real call recordings, implement gamification, let agents get full access to the knowledge base, and make more qualified operators mentors, and coaches for younger reps. 

Use CRM system wisely

CRM system integration offers many benefits for any call center. You will no more have to reanswer customers’ names, the history of previous customer interactions will be available in a few clicks, as well as customer service personalization will be much deeper and easier. 

Implement omnichannel call center

Never make customers repeat themselves with an omnichannel contact center - the solution that can gather contact channels in it in accordance with customer channel preferences and provide customer service across contact channels without the loss of progress of conversations. 

Offer self-service features

Let people relax from those noisy agents - offer a wide range of self-service options, such as chatbots, live chats, FAQs, knowledge bases, and well-designed IVR. What can be better than fast issue resolution without a need to spend more money on agent involvement? 

Provide customer surveys

You think that your call center is perfect? Ask your customers, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by some of their thoughts. Though, it is the best way to find out improvement areas, imperfections, and other vital information and show customers your care for their opinion. 

Review call scripts

Who wants to talk to a robot? Call any small call center, there is a great chance to have small talk with the real robot - despite the fact that it would be a human agent, you wouldn't see the difference. Too static and obvious call scripts can cause only bad experiences and bad customer service, and nothing else. Train agents to be empathetic, improve their sense of humor, and at least help them gain the skill to have a small-talk conversation with any customer. It is not only a pleasant experience for clients, but a great trick to gather more personal information from callers. 

Purchase the universal contact center solution

Do you know which fundamental thing creates customer success, improves call center infrastructure, and resolves most challenges contact center leaders face each day? It is a cloud-based contact center platform that gathers communication channels, offers customer self-service tools, integrates third-party software, provides deep insights and reports, and offers a wide range of workforce management and control features. 

Interested in ultimate call center software?

Contact us to discuss your needs and see Voiptime Contact Center in action!

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyse site traffic, personalize content, and serve targeted advertisements. Read about how we use cookies in our Privacy Notice.

Customer Contact Central