It's Good To Talk To Honda

Honda has topped a national survey of the best customer contact centres – for the fourth month running. Honda’s Contact Centre has been consistently rated best in Britain, ahead of similar operations representing companies like Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Virgin.

Carried out by the monthly publication Call Centre Focus under the banner ‘Top 25 Barometer’, the survey rates call centres according to four criteria – quality of welcome, handling of the enquiry, quality of response and quality of relationship. During the last three month period the Honda Contact Centre (HCC) has consistently ranked best for 'quality of welcome' and has been placed in the top six for the other three attributes.

"We’re very proud of our performance in this survey," says Honda (UK)’s Head of Customer Department, Steve Oliver. "The Contact Centre is often the first point of contact for a new customer and is frequently ‘the voice of Honda’ for existing ones. In line with our founding philosophies, we pride ourselves on being a friendly approachable company, focused on total customer satisfaction. We’ve spent a lot of effort to ensure that we have the right people working for us, that they are knowledgeable about the company and its products and that they are well trained in the task.

"One recent change we’ve made is to abandon the recorded voice greeting used initially in favour of a real person’s voice during office hours. We value our customers – and one of the best ways of showing our appreciation is to give them a personal greeting when they have taken the trouble to call us," he adds.

HCC deals with cars, motorcycles and power equipment products. Typically it handles over a thousand calls per week generally split 70% cars, 20% bikes and 10% power products. The frequency of calls is heavily influenced by events (like Motor Shows, new model launches, product recalls etc) and seasonalisation, which affects motorcycle and power equipment customers. Right now for example the Centre is currently receiving around three thousand calls per week off the back of the new Accord TV ‘Cog’ advertising.

As well as receiving phone calls, HCC answers around 300 to 400 e-mails per week on a wide range of topics. Dealer locations, brochure requests, test drives and product enquiries probably top the list - but there are all sorts of weird and wonderful questions. These include servicing questions, queries on parts for imported vehicles, what music is used on a particular TV advert, warranty queries and even ‘how do I start my mower?’

Published 1 June 2003 Melanie Carter

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