Ever try to call a company’s customer service number only to find there isn’t any digits to dial? Or if you do find a number on the website, you’re lost in the proverbial “phone tree”, bouncing from one department to the next…or worse, staying on hold. And holding. And holding. Well Brenda Priddy and Thomas Anderson of Number Direct hate that too, so they decided to do something about it. In the UK anyway, but it has to start somewhere. I had a few questions for Brenda to better understand how they were helping company’s provide better customer service.
What problem(s) are you addressing with number-direct.co.uk?
Brenda: Well, Number Direct was created to try and cut out the pain of ringing customer helplines and having to run the gauntlet of automated switchboards. Where possible we’ve put direct numbers to the right departments to help speed up everyone’s day. Some of these numbers weren’t even listed when they should have been, so we think we’re doing a public service. Robin Hood style!
What incident(s) inspired you to start this website?
Who doesn’t hate automated switchboards?!? We were inspired by www.pleasepress1.com, who has mapped hundreds of switchboard options to get you to the right place faster. We wanted to build on that and give the direct number where possible. We’re still working on it, some of our numbers still go to switchboards, but deeper in the options than you would be from ringing the main helpline numbers.
Why do you think companies make it so hard for their customers to connect with them?
Simple, they don’t want to deal with customers, statistics and numbers are all what matters now at executive level as less complaints means they can massage ratings, reviews etc in their favour. Make it harder for customers to complain the less likely negative reviews are going to get through. Not to mention it saves a fortune for companies.
What does your website offer? And what’s next?
Primarily our website provides direct numbers to the right departments without the hassle. Along with blogging and reviewing customer service department and helplines in the UK. Not to mention always trying to keep our number database up to date and improve on it. We’re planning to expand our services to provide customers with the right information and tools on their rights in the future, so stay tuned for that!
Have you encountered any challenges/friction from the companies you are highlighting?
We’ve been contacted by companies asking to take down some numbers and about image rights. One company that contacted us asked for the number to be taken down because they are trying to change consumer behavior to use online chat services instead of ringing their helpline. They never said why but no doubt it’s an exercise in saving money.
How do you feel your site helps customer service?
We want to highlight the failings and bugbears we all have with customer service and push these into the limelight. Which? the UK’s leading consumer watchdog does a fantastic job of the big stuff, revealing the big scandals etc. We want to eventually focus on the small stuff that they ignore, such as bad call holding music (designed to irritate you and make you hang up) and why this happens. So enlighten the public and reveal the tricks of the trade a bit more.
I hate that it’s come to the point where companies feel they need to hide their customer service number to direct their customers. Is it about saving money? Probably. Is it more about prioritizing the organization over the customer? Absolutely. And Number Direct is hoping you’ll like their solution. Thanks again Brenda for talking with me.