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The use of call centres and
the use of social media for
customer service.
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Executive summary3
Research findings..........................................................8

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Executive summary.
The basis of the research plan was to develop a feasible and useful way of answering the question on
how useful call centres are in the modern day.
To answer this question the group decided three methods should be used to gather public opinion;
the methods are surveys, focus groups and secondary research such as articles and books. This
allows a knowledge base of how and why call centres began to be understood which is key to
understanding the difference between the times and the use of surveys and focus groups allow the
group to understand current public opinion.

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Call centres have been in place for decades and are used in a variety of industries with the majority
being in retail. Over the years the mass opinion of call centres has degraded due to people not
getting the assistance they need or how the centres themselves are run.
This research plan is based upon the question of how useful call centres are in the modern day. It is
also an investigation into what extent the use of modern technology, social media and instant online
chats have modified how call centres are run. The investigation involves the use of focus groups and
surveys to garner the opinion of the masses on the effectiveness of call centres and how relevant
they are to the average person.

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Research Methods and Limitations
Marketing research involves the collection of information using a wide range of sources and
techniques. Information may be acquired from published sources, observing behaviours or through
direct communication with the people being researched. (Wilson 2006)
There are different ways to gather information, from primary or secondary research sources and
different types of information to gather, indeed quantitative and qualitative. The team used a
combination of these research approaches to get the final results. They include:
Focus groups- are set up in order to explore specific topics, and individuals views and experience,
through group interaction. (Litosseliti 2003). Focus groups offer some advantages compared to the
other methods of collecting data. They present a more natural environment, as participants are
influencing and influenced by others- just as they are in real life.
In this particular case, the team experienced time-consuming and cost issues. Another difficulty in
teams focus group research concerned the size and number of groups organise for this purpose, as
well as the coverage of topics, the degree of structure and flexibility in moderating.
Surveys- surveying is the structured questioning of participants and the recordings of responses. The
team used questionnaires as a research method. The great popularity of questionnaires is that they
provide a quick fix for research methodology; no single method has been so much abused.
(Gillham 2000)
The major limitation of the written questionnaire that the team experienced was the low response
rate. This affected and turned out to dramatically lower our confidence in the results. Respondent
literacy problems also occurred as few people could not understand the questions which made the
team obligated to go into details by spending more time with those people in order to simplify the
questions for them.
Secondary research- secondary information consists of sources of data and other information
collected by others and archived in some form. Secondary information offers relatively quick and
inexpensive answers to many questions and is almost always the point of departure for primary
research. (Stewart 1993)
Main fear whilst using secondary data for the team was the lack of control over the framing and
wording of survey items. It means that some questions important to the groups study were not
included in the data.
In addition, another limitation of secondary data is that the information may also fail to be
applicable if it is out of date or does not match the time frame that the team is interested in.

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Original proposal/plan v issues, overcoming and the impact it had on results
Target market was not considered very well at first, so the team went though some undesirable
issues regarding its target market.
Conducting a target market research takes a considerable amount of time to identify a target
audience, as well as analyse research data. That was the main issue that the team had to face.
Spending time on creating the questionnaire with the right questions that the team wants to ask the
audience so they can get the most honest and frank answers.
Afterwards, preparing to meet with different people and hand out the questionnaire to as many as
the team can.
This was achieved by everyone participating and contributing for the final results.
Analysing the collected data was time-consuming, but was also overcome due to the good time
management skills that the teams members applied. The team successfully set up a plan with what
and when the work had to be done in time, hence the members were able to manage their own time
according to the deadlines they had for this work.
One of the benefits and the reason of overcoming problems was the fact that the team had
meetings in which people were able to expose their opinions about research methods and how they
should be done. The team would always come to find solution in all kind of disagreements or
misunderstandings within the team.
Method Advantage Disadvantage. Recommendations.
Focus group Richard A. Krueger,
Mary Anne Casey (2000)
stated that focus groups
are important as they
can enable businesses
to collect information
relating to a product
and service of a
business. Klenke(2008)
it stated that the
information would be
reliable within the focus
group. This is because it
would be face to face
and also more
information would be
gathered, which can be
useful within a business.
The disadvantage would
be that it would be time
consuming and also
expensive in which this
can also be an issue for
the business. The way
this was overcome was
by having a small focus
group, in which the
relevant questions were
asked to the people in
which it was good for
the research.
which would be
made would be
that there could be
more focus groups
as this would give
the group more
information and
also see the
mistakes which
were made in the
first one in order to
make it successful.
With this, it would
make the
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Questionaires From this, it stated that
they are easier to fill
and are quicker
compared to other
The disadvantage would
be that they can be
biased if they are not
filled in by the right
target market. The way
this was overcome, was
by having questions
which related to the
research objectives in
which this helps the
results of the research.
would be that the
group could try to
pilot the
questionaires to
friends and family
in which they
would know if the
questionaires is
correct and any
changes would
make it better and
successful. With
this more people
would fill in the
survey in which it
would make the
Secondary research. Time and Cost effective
in which the
information would be
available to the
business. Another
reason would be Basis
of Primary Research as
this can help the
primary research
questions which is also
The information can be
outdating in which this
can affect the primary
research objectives and
also the business. The
way this was overcome
was by using up to date
data which was also
important within the
would be that to
use better sources
as they would give
better information
and make the
research and the

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Research findings.
With the research findings the way the results were made were by the research objectives.
Strategic objectives.
The strategic objectives were
If the call centre is active.
How social media is used as a customer service technique.
How many people use call centres.
Peoples opinions about call centres.
Research objectives.
The research objectives were
Use of the call centre.
Use of social media.
When they use call centres.
How social media is used as a customer service technique.
Secondary research.
According to call centre helper (roles in a call centre, 2012) it stated, that they had emerged from
the 1950s in order to handle calls within the main telephone companies. From this, it shows that
this was the time which they had started to grow within business.

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Figure 1: call centre growth.
According to call centre helper (history of the call centre, 2011) it stated, that he call centre was still
on the rise. With this, in 2003 the industry consisted of 5,320 call centre operations employing
800,000 people in the UK. 500,000 of these people were working in agent positions. The industry
had grown by 250% since 1995 and was still growing. With this, more companies had transferred
overseas because of labour costs in which this had caused an issue within the UK. From this, it
stated with the recent rise of social media and technology, it could allow call centres to become
virtual networks of homeworkers linked by cloud computing, it appears customer service is swiftly
According to BBC news (Are call centres the factories of the 21st Century, 2011) it stated that there
are over 1 million people employed in the industry. With this, it shows that the industry still employs
more people and there is a demand for call centres in the UK. According to Kelly Services (Careers in
Call and Contact Centre, 2013) it stated that there is strong demand for call centre operatives. With
this, it relates to specialist roles are evolving that require niche skills, such as multi-lingual
proficiency and social media expertise.
According to social media today (Does Social Media Suffice for Customer Service, 2013) it stated that
The search functions of Facebook and Twitter and the use of hash tags, makes it easier than ever for
companies to monitor what customers have to say about them and intervene if not all customers
who are unhappy with a company will ring up but they will more than likely tweet about it as well as
giving you bad word-of-mouth.
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Figure 2: use of the internet in the UK. (Source Office of national statistics, 2012)
According to the office of national statistics (internet access, 2013) it stated that the number of
adults accessing the Internet every day in Great Britain has doubled between 2006 and 2012, from
16 million to 33 million. With this, the he growth in social networking has been one of the most
significant changes to the ways in which individuals communicate over the Internet. In 2012, almost
half of all adults (48%) used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Student ID:21205497, 21201351 ,21211255, 21103738

Figure 3; social media use in businesses.( Source
uk-businesses/2012/sty-ecom-2012.html, 2012)
According to the Office of National Statistics (, 2014) it stated Businesses also used social
media for different reasons and these also differed by the size of the business. With this Social
media has also opened up new ways for businesses to engage with customers in which 23% of
businesses responded to customer opinions, reviews or questions. With this it relates to public secor
call centres (see appendix 5) in the UK.
From this, it shows that the call centres are still being used by different people. With this it also
shows that social media is being used for customer service in which people are using both call
centres and social media for customer service and information. From this secondary research it
shows that businesses use information from social media about their products and services such as
complaints to improve their business in which social media is helping businesses provide better
customer service within their business.
Focus groups.
With this a focus group was done. The purpose of the focus group was to understand, known
different views, get a range of ideas and perception from people (see appendix 2). This related to the
focus group discussion guide (see appendix 4) which was used within the focus group in order to get
Student ID:21205497, 21201351 ,21211255, 21103738

information. The team goal with the focus group was to see the preferences, experiences people
have regarding call centres.
The team run two focus groups one first session with Bucks University students contained 5 males
and two female students group age 21 to 24. The second session runs with 6 female ages from 27 to
59, employees from St John Trust, Townsend House, and Oxford.
The result of the second group participants age 27 to 59 feels that the UK call centres are an
important consideration when is coming to choose an insurance provider, especially when
participants are using a well-known company, brand. One of the participants female age 37 who is
hard of hearing, the individual find difficulty of using the service through call centres. The person
with disability speaks slowly and was many times ignored by the service. The Disability
discrimination Act makes illegal such behaviour discriminate the individual in the provision of goods
and services.
Based on the research objectives the questions for the questionnaire (see appendix 1) were
developed in order to find information from people relating to the call centres. With this 15 people
were interviews and the sample was a target market of 18-60 year old male and female. This is
because more 18- 40 year olds use calls centres in which this would allow more information. Based
on the research more people found that call centres are popular in which people still use call
centres. With the graphs (see appendix 3) show the results to the survey

With this it shows that 57% of the people asked used a call centre in the last 6 months. This shows
that the call centres are still popular in the UK.

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This graph shows that more people use call centres for general enquiry in which it shows people still
use call centres for enquiries.

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With this graph it shows that more people use Facebook in which this is the most suitable social
media site for the people asked in this assignment.

This shows that people use social media every day for different reasons which can also be used for
call centres.

With the use of the internet this shows that people do use the internet for customer service.
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With this companies should use social media and online for customer service.

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With this it shows that call centres are still popular which shows that people are still using call
centres as customer service in the UK?

Objectives Findings
Use of the call centre.

From this, the results had shown
that all the people interviewed used
call centres. With this they had used
them for product information,
enquires and complaints. This shows
that people use call centres.
Use of social media. From the results, it shows that all the
people interviewed use social media.
This relates to all the main social
media sites.
How social media is used as a
customer service technique.
From this, it shows that most people
use social media for customer
service but they would still use the
call centres for customer service
relating to products and services.

From this the research objectives were achieved. This is because the information from the
questionaires and focus group shows the use of call centres, use of social media and also if social
media is used as a customer service technique in the UK. With this there would be more changes
made within the survey if the task was to be done again. One task would be that more questions
would be added to the survey. This is because this would allow more information which could give
insight and would be reliable data. Another change would be that more people would be asked. This
is because 12 people were asked in which if more people were asked then it would give more data
which would be good for the business. By making these changes, it would mean that the techniques
would be different in which this would allow better information which would be useful to the client.

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From the primary and secondary research, it shows that call centres are still being used for customer
service in the UK. With this, it shows that more people use call centres for product information
which means that they are popular and being used. With this, it also shows that people use social
media in which they might not be using it for customer service in which people would use call
centres. Overall this shows that people would still be using call centres for many reasons in which
social media would not replace call centres.
With the research findings, the question has been answered in which call centres are being used for
customer service and social media is also being used for customer service methods. With this it
shows that people are still using call centres for customer service and will use call centres. With the
growth of social media people use social media but the call centres can be still considered for
customer service.

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BBC News. 2011. Are call centres the factories of the 21st Century?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014]. 2014. The history of the call centre. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014]. 2014. Typical roles in a call centre. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014].
Communication Department (n.d) The cost of customer contact. [online] available from: contact cost [Accessed 23 January 2014]
Gillham, B. 2000. Developing a questionnaire. London [u.a.] Continuum Pub. 2014. Careers in Call Centre | Kelly Services. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014].
Klenke, K. 2008. Qualitative research in the study of leadership. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Pub.
Krueger, R. A. and Casey, M. A. 2000. Focus groups. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Litosseliti, L. 2003. Using focus groups in research. London ; New York : Continuum Pub. 2014. Business use of social media, 2012 - ONS. [Online] Available at:
[Accessed: 20 Jan 2014]. 2014. Internet Access - Households and Individuals, 2013 - ONS. [Online] Available at:
2013.html [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014].
Read S. (2013) Time for the Government to step in? The dark side of The Call Centre [online]
Available from: [Accessed 16 January 2014] 2014. Social Media Customer Service | Social Media Today. [Online]
Available at:
customer-service [Accessed: 20 Jan 2014].
Stewart, D and Kamins, M. 1993. Secondary research : information sources and methods. Newbury
Park u.a.: Sage Publ.

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Appendix 1 the questionnaire.

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Appendix 2 the focus group transcript.
The results and transcript of the focus group.
General employees at call centres speak to quickly, are not keen to slow down even if they are
request to do. Very often they not let customer give the time to explain fully, in same services the
shows impatient if a person have disability with speaking or is not native speaker. Complex details
over the phone become frustrated when is pass too many information should be posted or email for
confirmation from the client. The caller could have chance the option of repeating menu; call centre
staff should be given training about disability awareness. Overseas location, where people have
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different life reality, and the same with language and accent problems. Participants in focus group 2
had concern about how safe the call centres organizations keep and from where comes their data.
Mature customers are worry when comes to sharing personal or payment data verbally over the
phone. This group is aware that they need be protected from fraud but they feel the organizations
should take more responsibility to protect the customer. Participants were bombarded with
hundreds of unwanted calls in inconvenient time. The majority of interviews people view is that calls
from such organizations become a weapon trying to sell unwanted service or product.
Problem with silence calls from call centres when a worker in blended centre are not receiving calls
they are expected to make them, the computer is constantly dealing out (Read, 2013)if a worker
becomes free, there is a call waiting, if the employee is busy in time silent calls are made.(Read,
2013) One individual in focus group signed up to the Telephone Preference Service expected to not
receiving nuisance calls any more but does not work.
Inbound call centre
There is criticism of any call centre with a number of the same common themes for example
Inbound call centre when the customers make calls. In many call centres participants in focus group
complained excessive waiting time to be connected to an operator, departments of companies are
not engage enough in communication with one another department what cause waiting long time to
speak with the correct department.
Outbound call centre
Where call centre agents make calls to customers sales leads operators are working from script and
often they are not expert operators. These companies might make money on vulnerable people who
is been unprotected by lack of policies and regulations.
Customers satisfaction
Today customer dialogue is very important and organizations call centres are listening and speaking
with their clients, they need to recognize the importance of listening to the customers.
The second focus group stated that one time bad experience with call centre might cause individuals
to not use a companys product and service any more. These organizations who represent well-
known brands should deliver on behave these brands service promise all the time if they want to
avoid losing customers. Group 1 said they rate quality of call centres more higher than contact in
person face to face.

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Appendix 3. The graphs.

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Appendix 4 the focus group discussion guides.
The aim of this research is to get insight into call centres and how many people would use call
centres relating to customer services as well. With this it will focus on social media and how it is
being used as a customer service tool in different sectors.
With this the first thing which would be discussed is when the last time you had used a call centre
was. This can relate to anything. With this how long was the call and was the service good. With this
did you get anything relating to the call and was the information useful.
With this has the person used a call centre relating to customer service. With this when did they use
the call centre and why. From the call was the customer service better than face to face. Was the
service reliable and were any issues resolved on the phone relating to customer service of a product
and service.
From this what are your views about call centres. Are they increasing and declining. Are people
offering good customer service.
Do you know people who use call centres regularly.
Do they have social media accounts. This can include any social media. How often do they use it and
why they use it.
Is social media reliable. Do you trust the information for customer service issues relating to a
Do you follow a particular business using social media.
From this have you used social media for customer service reasons. What was the experience from
it. With this people would have different views on customer service online and the usage of it which
is important.
If a company chooses to have customer service online. What would your views about that. Will it be
Do you think that more people are using the internet for customer service reasons. With this it could
relate to product help and also customer service issues with the business.

Thank you.

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Appendix 5 public secort call centres.
Public call centres
Everyone in the UK has access to a telephone and every individual is able access public services
through call centres. In opinion UK residents Government call centres in general provide good
service which is seen as good value for money, over three quarters of customers are satisfied
with the services in the last decade.

Recent public sector survey found the average cost per one contact was 15 face to face, by post
12, phone enquiries cost 5 and online 6p. 120 000 contacts cost face to face 1.8 million, cost of
1.44 million for postal enquiries, phone enquiries cost 600 thousands and 7.200 manages online
self-service enquiries. (Communication Department)

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Appendix 6. The group log.
Date. Who Attended. What happened.
30/09/13. Robbie
In this meeting the group had
formed. With this the
assignment was discussed.
With this there was some
confusion relating to the
assignment and there were
different questions about the
07/10/13. Robbie
With this different aspects of
the assignment were discussed.
Things such as different types
of research methods were
discussed. The main issue was
the assignment as there was
confusion about the
assignment which was causing
an issue within the team.
14/10/13. Robbie
With this the group had met to
discuss the assignment as the
brief had changed. The group
knew that the assignment was
based on call centres and
therefore planned to do some
research relating to the call
centre in the UK.
21/10/13. Kris
With this the group discussed
different research methods and
also the focus group which
needed to be done. From this
the group had decided to
research different research
methods and also do some
secondary research. With this
the discussion guide for the
focus group needed to be
researched within the group.
nasir had made the focus group
discussion guide in which it
stated what needed to be done
within the focus group and
what information would be
28/10/13 Nasir. With this the group had
decided on when the focus
group would need to be done.
With this Kris had decided that
he would do the focus group.
From this the secondary
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research needed to be done I
which nasir had decided that he
would do the secondary
research. With this the
secondary research was
4/11/13 Robbie
With this the group had
discussed the assignment and
the roles within the group.
Overall not many roles were
decided. With this nasir had
decided to make the
questionnaire. With this nasir
had decided to do the group
11/11/13 Robbie
With this the secondary
research was done and the
focus group discussion guide.
With this the group had
planned the focus group and
also discussed the assignment
and the roles.
18/11/13 Robbie
With this the questionaires was
made and discussed within the
group and any changes to it.
With this the group had
decided how to hand it out in
which the members had
decided that it would be done
by hand rather than online
25/11/13. nasir The group had made changes
to the survey and also had
made changes to the roles
within the group as this was
important. This was based on
feedback by Vic Davies in which
the group was on track relating
to the assignment.
2/12/13. Robbie
The group had decided on
when the questionaires and the
focus group would be
complete. The roles of the
assignment were confirmed
and the group knew what they
needed to do for the

It was decided that
Robbie- executive summary.
Mikel- methodology.
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Kris- findings
Nasir-secondary research
20/01/14 Robbie
With this the group had met to
see the assignment and any
questions. The introduction
was not complete. The
methodology was partial but
the research findings were
complete. With this the group
had decided that the tasks
would be completed.

24/01/2014 Robbie
With this the main parts of the
report were ready and the
report was ready to be
submitted. The group had
worked well and done their
part of the assignment to make
it successful.

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