Would you pay 50p to skip call centre queues?
A poll conducted by Which? showed that 92% of people would be unwilling to pay the 50p.
Britain’s largest mobile operator, EE, hopes customers will pay an extra 50p to skip the queue when they call customer service.
Convenience Comes at a Price
Personally speaking if I was calling at a typically busy time, the problem was urgent and I couldn’t afford to be on the phone longer than I needed to there is no doubt that I would forfeit 50p for the convenience. In fact I would probably be relieved that I had the option! When you think about it how often do you pay for the convenience of saving time? Convenience meals, taxis, tickets online, it’s a part of everyday life.
For my own sanity skipping the queue is worth 50p, however I worry about the consequences of availing of this service. It’s likely that I might slip into routinely paying 50p for convenience because my impatience for call waiting has increased. The temptation to skip may be too difficult to resist. Consider internet speed; when you get used to a higher speed you cannot accept the old slower pace, your tolerance has increased and you get exasperated waiting… especially when you know it could be quicker.
Paying extra for a standard level of customer service… can that be right?
The other side of the argument is; why should I have to pay extra for a level of customer service that I want and in some cases need? Should a business not have their customer wants and needs met? Are EE cheekily assuming that because it is a need they should charge extra for it, as if it’s a luxury. Customer experience receives huge much media attention; with companies battling it out by showing off customer–centric strategies and case studies. Yet now we see EE coming out with this strategy that says that “If you have a problem and want to complain; call us, but if you don’t’ want to wait all day, pay us!”
This was echoed by Andrew Griffiths told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours:
“I thought it was a bad idea for a company to offer to provide what really ought to be a standard level of customer service for a fee.”
Indeed it was apparent that EE were not looking to improve their service offering but to generate new revenue streams to pay off for investments.
“We've already committed to returning over 1,000 roles to the UK from overseas call centres, and have already opened two new UK centres. To contribute to this and other investments in service we have introduced some small charges for certain customer services.”
Making a Profit from Complaints to the Call Centre
Many of the new jobs were being creating in light of Ofcom stating EE as the mobile provider receiving the highest number complaints, so it would make great financial sense for EE to have a chargeable option for each complainer.
Throughout social media channels customers were unhappy with many claiming that the new service and new fee would discriminate against those who couldn’t afford it. The fee was labelled “diabolical” and “a disgrace” online.
Rob Kerr, mobiles expert at telecoms price comparison website uSwitch.com, said:
“Priority queuing will create a two-tier system. It’s all very well slashing waiting times for those who pay the 50p premium - but EE’s not made it clear if that means non-priority queuers will be left hanging on for longer than usual as a consequence.”
A good point, one that won’t leave customers happy if the latter were true.
The BIG Questions on the price of Quality Customer Service:
- Will EE be the first of many companies to offer fast-tracking for a fee?
- Will those who skip the queue be treated differently?
- Are you just skipping the queue or are you paying for higher quality?
- Will customers who don’t skip be kept waiting longer?
- Will customers become addicted to jumping the queue?
- Will customers become accustomed to paying for fast-tracking?
- How much profit will EE make off their customer service fees?
If you have the answer to any of these let us know on LinkedIn.