# 4 (2014) Replaced
How does it make you feel when the company you work for is too tight to pay minimum wage to a 17 hour per week receptionist and instead hires a company to pick up its calls?
And when that company is customer facing but would rather have a vacant seat front of house and its calls answered by a business 170 miles away it doesn’t fill you with hope.
Overseas call centres were one way companies cut down on UK staff. Now even their reception desks are virtual. I’m not sure how that’ll help the next customer who comes through the door and heads for the reception desk. But to the company it doesn’t seem to be a concern. And the bigger the company the more distant that relationship between customer and corporation becomes.
As well as that, there’s the issue of employment. That local receptionist is now out of a job but part time staff are holding many companies together. Keeping them afloat whilst leaving the company free from income tax, national insurance and contractual obligations. One week notices and zero hours contracts are common and often the only work people can find.
Virtual offices and telephone answering services are not an uncommon replacement for in-house administration, once a lucrative employment option for many people. But it lacks personalisation. What if someone calls up and says ‘Can you see if Bob is back at his desk yet’ or ‘Can you see if Kerri has gone out on that test drive?’
Customers want to know the people they are talking to are relevant to the company, not hundreds of miles away. And that is the frustration of customers everywhere.