Monday, March 10, 2008

70% want to talk to BPO agents of opposite sex: Study

If you dial a call centre, whose voice do you want to hear at the other end? Amitabh Bachchan’s baritone was the overwhelming answer in a recent survey on call centres.

While Bachchan was voted favourite-celebrity-to-answer-a-call by both men and women, there were gender differences when it came to the other questions. To start with, the men said they preferred talking to women and the women customers said they preferred talking to men. The survey thus confirmed what has long been an open secret.

The study was conducted by Avaya GlobalConnect and the Sydney-based research firm Questionnaires were emailed to 300 respondents in India who had recently used the services of a call centre. They were from various income groups.

Exactly 70% said that they preferred talking to an agent of the opposite sex. And almost one-third were more demanding—they wanted the agents to be both of the opposite sex and younger than them.

The study comes at a time when a number of banks and telecom companies have begun diverting their customer-query traffic to their call centres rather than have people visiting their outlets.

Even government monoliths like the Indian Railways and state-owned telecom companies, which have a less-than-shining record of customer service, are setting up call centres to address queries. The customers don’t seem to mind with 58% saying that interacting with call centres made life easy.

More than gender, it was the age groups that responded in different ways. The youngsters or Generation Y (16 to 30 years) had the most complaints and said it was usually a problematic process.

They also had the lowest service expectations from the men and women at the other end of the phone. Middle-aged customers or the Baby Boomers (46 to 61 years) had the highest expectations about service quality.

The Silent Generation (62 to 82 years), surprisingly, found the least problems with call centres. They were more than happy to speak to a number of different people on the same call, as long as it helped resolve their problem.

What did customers look for in an agent? Once again there was a gender difference: for males it was being helpful, while for females, intelligence was most sought after.


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