Israeli telcos ordered to cut call center waiting

Call center Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative

The Ministry of Communications believes that phone companies' service representatives should not keep callers waiting longer than six minutes.

The Ministry of Communications believes that phone companies' service representatives should not keep callers waiting longer than six minutes. The average answer for 85% of callers is defined as three minutes.

The Ministry of Communications is also dictating the answer menu for callers according to defined measures with an emphasis on a personal and professional answer, while barring the phone companies from using an answering service to record messages from callers seeking service.

The purpose of the measures published today by the Ministry of Communications is to shorten waiting times. "Communications companies will be obligated to provide a rapid, professional, and effective response within the short times defined by the ministry," the announcement read.

These measures reflect a more stringent policy than the 3-minute waiting time law, which is also binding on communications companies. While the law allows companies to offer callers the option of leaving a message to which the companies' representatives are obligated to respond within a defined time, the new measures now mandate a human response to a call with a relevant professional without recording a message and responding later.

It can be assumed that the communications companies will have to prepare personnel accordingly. The question is whether they will also impose the cost of the improvement in service mandated by the Ministry of Communications on the consumer through the prices of their services and products, or whether competition will prove decisive in keeping prices down.

The measures are valid for waiting times for a human response at the customer service centers of Bezeq, Hot Telecom, the mobile phone companies, holders of a unified communications license, and providers of Internet access having over 20,000 private subscribers.

The measures determined refer to the times for providing responses by a professional to telephone inquiries in three main categories: bill clarifications, ending an agreement, and repairing a malfunction. The measures state that the voice answer to the caller will first present a choice of all three of these matters in an order chosen by the company. The headings to be given to the caller after these three headings will be at the company's discretion.

The Ministry of Communications will test the responses at two-week intervals. The ministry will require 85% of callers to receive a response to their calls within three minutes on the average.

The following rules were also established:

* The company will provide a human and professional response to each caller of any type who dials either a telephone number or an identity card number.

* The recorded response menu for routing calls will consist solely of the routing options, without playing any recorded advertisements or offers to join any plans or bargains or any other information not directly related to the routing menu.

* If the caller selects the option of terminating his or her agreement, the company representative answering the call is not entitled to transfer the caller to another representative or any other party whatsoever for handling the caller's request to terminate his or her agreement.

* If the caller selects the option of clarifying his or her bill, the company representative answering the call is not entitled to transfer the call to any other representative or party whatsoever except at the caller's explicit request.

* The companies are given up to 10 months to implement the new regulation.

Ministry of Communications director general Netanel (Nati) Cohen said, "These measures were stipulated after accumulated experience found that the waiting times were too long. We expect waiting times to be shortened even beyond the stipulated measures. The ministry will closely monitor implementation of the directives in order to make sure that the public also receives better treatment from the companies in this matter."

Minister of Communications Ayoob Kara stated, "This measure will facilitate a response to an acute problem with which every one of us is very familiar - prolonged waiting for a human professional response for getting service from the communications companies. With the implementation of the measures, it is expected that the response will be rapid, professional, and effective, and will put an end to the feelings of helplessness and disappointment felt by many consumers."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 21, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Call center Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
Call center Photo: Shutterstock ASAP Creative
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