Phoning Call Centres? Get through their menus quickly

What’s the True Cost?

It's been a couple of years since the recession ended, but people are still maintaining the good money-saving habits that they picked up during the credit crunch - turning the heating down a notch, making homemade meals instead of getting take outs and shopping round for the best deals on everything from white goods to the annual fortnight abroad.

One of the most popular ways to get a deal these days is to use comparison websites, which claim to help you save up to hundreds of pounds on your car insurance, energy bills and mobile phone tariffs.

But - while you may get an initial good price, is it really the bargain it seems?

This all depends on how likely you will require any follow-up service contact with the company, shop or supplier that you've purchased from.

Nobody buys car insurance planning on having an accident, but should the worst happen do you really want the stress to be made worse by using a poorly designed voice recognition system when you call to register your claim?

When your brand new washing machine is leaking soapy suds all over your kitchen floor, do you need the hassle of navigating through a confusing phone menu?

Complaining to your energy supplier about your outrageously high gas bill is only going to be more frustrating by constantly getting through to the wrong department.

Luckily these days you shouldn't have to use a premium rate number to call customer service departments, however the cost that we're concerned about here at is the one thing that is truly priceless, and once spent can never be got back - your time.

What is your time worth?  We're not talking just an hourly rate here - what's the price you put on missing time playing with your children? Spending a few intimate moments with a loved one? Taking a few minutes to chill out on your own in peace and quiet?

Burning timeWhen companies are badly organised and have poor systems in place (often designed to save them money), the resultant delays in their service to you can make it feel as if they are stealing your time.

Once you call a company (most likely reluctantly, according to our survey, you will need to hunt for their telephone number, navigate the phone menus (which in the worst cases can take up to 4 minutes alone), sit in a virtual queue for an untold length of time and have your fingers crossed that you're lined up to speak to the department you actually need to talk to!

If you're lucky this will all take just a couple of minutes and you will get your matter resolved without losing too much of your day and with a minimum amount of bother.

But we know that all too often this isn't the case - we regularly hear horror stories of customers who time and time again have got lost and confused in a maze of phone menus, had to wait so long in a queue that they simply gave up and who have been deliberately being cut off by the company they were trying to contact. The company with whom they have already spent money.

Quite often these companies will try to divert their customers to methods of contact which are cheaper for them to maintain - for example e-mail or webchat - but these channels are not necessarily suitable or convenient for many people.

So, when you consider your purchase as a whole, including your overall experience with the supplier you bought from, does it still seem so inexpensive? In hindsight would you have paid a bit more for better service?

The true price of any purchase is the total cost of all these things added up: the price of the product, the quality of the product and the impact that your dealings with the vendor have on your time and stress levels.Phone Tied Up think that it is possible to have the best of both worlds - by looking at a company's service reputation before you buy you can ensure that a low price truly is the good deal that it's advertising to be.

To us, the design of a company's phone menu is an interesting indicator of how much a company cares about their customers - how hard will they make you work just to talk to them?

Companies that make it easy to contact them and provide a positive and effective customer service experience are proving that they value their customer's money and time.

So, the next time you find a great deal online have a think about the likelihood of needing to contact the company who is selling to you, and before you buy take a minute to look at their phone menus and star rating on first - it might not turn out to be such a bargain after all!!

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