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The internet has made it much easier to communicate with businesses and to get things done. Like email has replaced letter writing, websites and online chat services have reduced the number of calls that we make to businesses.

Despite this reduction, there are times when we either have to make a call or just want to speak to a person. These calls are sometimes more difficult than they used to be. This may be partly because we are out of practice, but mostly because the routeing of calls has changed over time.

These changes can cause frustration. Dialling a number no longer connects us to a receptionist who listens to what we have to say, before transferring us to the best person to handle our call. Understanding the basics of why and how the call handling process has changed may help us to deal with our business calls more efficiently.

What sort of calls do we make?

Reasons for calling a company are diverse. Some reasons are
Data on the website is ambiguous and we need to know more.
The situation we are dealing with doesn’t fit into a category. We want to talk to a person. This type of call would normally be prompted by the need for more details or to confirm information. Call types range from education, delivery methods, warranty, insurance, services or travel to anything that requires information to be provided or confirmed as being current.
We need an answer now. Some things cannot wait. urgency covers breakdowns, illness, accident and any type of emergency need an immediate response.
We want to discuss options with a person. An item is delivered but damaged, a new appliance doesn’t work, we agreed to terms but our circumstances have changed and we need to talk to the company to find a way forward. Discussion calls can be prompted by the need to discuss specific situations.
We need to cancel a bank card or a direct debit. We might need reassurance or to check whether anything unexpected has happened on a bank account. There are many reasons why we need to talk to a person about a transaction. These conversations should be private, and many banks no longer have branches to visit. Calling is the next best thing. These calls may be made to other companies about payments or credit notes.
To choose a product, solve a problem or start a process. Even if we see a product online, we often need more information. This could be about dimensions, after sales service, credit terms or to check that any aspect of a deal or product makes is suitable for us.

Preparing for a Call

Have a pen and paper to hand to take down notes
Reduce any background noise
Have any reference, policy or invoice numbers to hand
Call when the account holder is available (to meet Data Protection requirements)
Obtain the best possible telephone number. This could be from a letter or the website.
Check if there is a direct dial number for the person or department you require.
Check opening times if possible (try the website)
Check if best calling times are available (try the website)

Making a Call

Dial the number and expect to be answered by an automatic router
Choose the correct number for the type of call
Choose the correct number for the type of call
Repeat if there are a few layers of choices
When the agent answers, take their name.Check you are through to the right department
Summarise and state the reason for the call or query
Be polite
After you have the information, thank the agent and end the call
If you cannot get the information you need, ask the agent how you can get it
Make notes
Ask to speak to a supervisor if you have not resolved the reason for your call
Expect to wait for a callback or reply
Complain when things go Wrong

If you are unhappy, make it clear that you want to complain
Ask for the company complaints process
Follow the steps that are given
Note time, dates, names and nature of any contacts

When a Complaint is not Resolved

Ensure any process has been followed. Check the company has been given enough time to consider and answer the complaint. If resolution cannot be reached, take advice

Free advice is available for consumers. The Citizens Advice are a reliable resource. Certain sectors have their own overseers. Details for escalating complaints should be provided in the company Complaints Process. These exist to protect the public and are there to act on your behalf and ensure that complaints are fairly dealt with.