How to beat the call centre queues
Stuck on hold for ages? Don't stand for it - follow these tips and beat the call centre queues!
I’ve just wasted forty minutes of my life within Vodafone’s labyrinth of call centre queues. My nightmare involved the usual shuffling back and forth between departments. With each minute there was the increasing fear that if the line got cut off I'd be back to square one and have to start all over again
In this day and age of social media and increased technology there must be ways to get beat the call centre queues and get in touch?
Don’t dial the ‘call centre’ number
Calling the advertised ‘call centre’ number means you’re automatically herded into the ‘queue’ but this can bring on a financial headache too as lots of call centres still use ‘0845’ and ‘0870’ prefix numbers.
While these numbers may be included ‘free’ in your home phone package, if you’re calling from a mobile you’ll probably pay to call them which can boost your bill as well as your blood pressure if you’re left on hold.
But they can be beaten. Check out How to call 0845 and 0870 numbers for free!
Pretend you’re a new customer
When a company wants your business it tends to answer the phone a lot quicker than when you’re an existing customer. And it often flags up a nice free number to use too; although these ‘0800’ numbers may be chargeable when calling from mobiles. I used to find Sky always answered its ‘new customer’ line much quicker than the call centre version and regularly called in this way to boycott the queue.
Lots of companies like Scottish Power, More Than and Halifax advertise different numbers for both existing and new customers, keeping ‘0844’ numbers for existing customers compared with the free ‘0800’ numbers for new customers.
Make them call you back
Some call centres have automated systems that offer a ‘call back’ rather than leaving you holding. Or you can try www.weQ4U.co.uk which keeps your place in the queue while you hang up.
This service works for ‘01’, ‘02’, ‘03’, ‘05’, ‘0800’ and ‘0870’ prefixes as well as some others within its database. There’s two ways to use the service. You can download the free app (for both Android and iPhones) and once connected pop in the call centre number you want. If you hit a queue just press ‘9*’ and the app waits in the queue for you until an agent’s free and you can be connected.
Or you can call 0333 5432111, put in the call centre number you want and press ‘9*’ if the line’s busy. Hang up and when you’re next, your phone rings twice, just press ‘last number redial’ and you’re through.
However you do need a phone which has ‘caller ID’ on it and it won’t work for every number as when I tried to get through to Sky’s call centre using this service it told me the ‘08442’ prefix wasn’t in its database.
Best time of day to call?
"If you want the best chance of avoiding queues, don’t call first thing in the morning", is the advice from Ashley Williamson from the Top 50 Companies for Customer Service benchmarking programme.
Williamson suggests post lunchtime, but before 4pm for the strongest chance of getting through without the wait time.
Email instead of calling
I’ve resorted to email with both Tesco and Asda when their home shopping deliveries have gone awry. With both I’ve found it frustrating trying to get through to their call centres if items were missing or damaged, so I now tend to fire off a quick email. It’s usually answered within 24 hours and a refund processed.
Go online for a webchat
Lots of companies offer this option and Ashley Williamson says it’s much quicker for customers as "agents can chat to three to five people at once; whereas they can’t talk to more than one at a time on the phone". So you may be able to get the answer you want far quicker this way.
And don’t forget about chat forums where you can often find the answers to technical problems, say with mobile phones, which would otherwise mean ringing a call centre helpline.
Take to Twitter
If it’s a complaint you’ve got then social media can be a great platform for getting a fast turnaround. Ring a call centre and it’s just you and the person taking your call who know you’re unhappy, but take your complaint to Twitter or Facebook and thousands of people will get to hear about it.
I tweeted about my dissatisfaction with Yodel home delivery once and almost instantly got messages back from its Twitter team offering to sort the problem.