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Limits to waiting time during telephone customer service: the Spanish case as a response to a need  

The eternal waiting time during telephone calls is one of the main causes of annoyance among users. Far from finding quick solutions, in many cases customers of different companies face a phone call as a tedious moment, in which the delay appears as a constant variable. Of course, this generates a bad predisposition that later translates into an uncomfortable link with the operator, if one is lucky enough to find a human voice on the other end.

Spain has taken an important step on this issue by announcing a draft law that sets a three-minute limit to the waiting time for general information, complaint and after-sales services.

Also, when the regulation is approved, a 15-day time limit will be set for companies to respond to customer complaints, while the Iberian country's consumer affairs minister, Alberto Garzón, confirmed the decision to also move forward on another important measure: that consumers will have to be attended by a physical person and not by an answering machine.

In case of non-compliance, companies could face financial penalties of up to 100,000 euros for the most serious infringements.

What causes delays in customer service?

Poor customer service, as well as excessive delays, can have real negative effects on a brand's image and performance.

In a world where immediacy has become the rule, slowness has become the main enemy. If a manager does not respond simply and immediately to a customer's request, it is likely to create an impression of poor service quality. This may lead the consumer to opt for competing offers.

Another aspect to take into account is the attitude of those working in the so-called "call centres". When faced with a problem, a customer expects to hear from the other side a person - as a first instance, and not a robot - with a friendly attitude and willing to help. When this does not happen, the experience becomes unpleasant and misunderstandings can arise. This is not in the interest of either party.

On the other hand, the inability to understand users' needs is a problem for companies, especially if they are "old and loyal" customers. Therefore, knowing your audience is essential to offer the solutions they are looking for, and this requires training for those who must offer solutions, or at least demonstrate a willingness to reach out to them.

The consequences of poor customer service can also be financial; if customers disappear, it will be necessary to spend a lot of money chasing new customers to replace those who have left, who, in turn, are likely to tell their friends, family and neighbours about their bad experience, thus creating a problem in attracting potential customers.

The bad mood generated by talking to a machine and the need to go to another model.

There are two main reasons for customers' anger: one of them is to be able to talk to a physical person, to a similar person, and not to a machine. Indeed, the Spanish draft law establishes the option of requesting at any time during the call or telematic communication to be heard by a person with specialised training, regardless of whether the communication is initiated through robotic means.

Likewise, to ensure that the elderly are not left out of the system, financial services will have to enable face-to-face channels, whether permanent or intermittent, by telephone or telematically. The main parameters to be taken into account will be the age of the person, where they live and their level of digital skills to avoid situations of financial exclusion.

The other, undoubtedly, is linked to long waiting times in which pleasant music tries to make up for a moment, often for the customer, of tension. In Argentina, there are many companies that provide a slow customer service, and the response to this is simple: the possibility of being put on hold for several minutes is enough to inspire unease in even the most optimistic person.

Against this backdrop, the draft law that is being advanced in Spain undoubtedly sets a precedent that should be taken into account in other parts of the world. Evidently, the measure is not a coincidence, but is the result of a large number of complaints about a situation that generates discomfort for the population.

Along these lines, it will be an increasing challenge for companies to combine an efficient, sustainable service that is not slow and has the capacity to offer empathetic service. At the end of the day, as the saying goes, the customer is right.

AddACCION as an example of immediate and effective care

AddACCION is a software development company that, through its single screen that generates a complete integration, facilitates service in precisely three minutes by eliminating the need for the operator to search for information in different systems.

The processing of information at considerable speed is one of the pillars that distinguish AddACCION. Although it is not a typical "call centre", data about a user - age, date of birth, likes and dislikes, previous complaints - are documented at the user's fingertips. As a result, problems are solved quickly. It is a distinctive mark.

In view of the enormous difficulties that many companies face in relation to a subject that affects customer mood and loyalty, cases such as AddACCION show the value of uniting all sales channels on a single platform, and above all, of being able to adapt to what the market requires.

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