Crazy contact center facts you didn’t know you needed in your life

August 04, 2023

You never know when you’re going to be in need of an interesting fact regarding customer service or contact centers in general.

Whether it’s for a game of trivia with your agents or for an icebreaker before a big presentation, having a few surprising numbers or stories might come in handy.

Luckily, we prepared for these scenarios, and gathered some fun facts we bet you didn’t know about call centers.

1. The longest customer service call might be a 10hr 43min call to Zappos

This American online shoe and clothing retailer’s first core value is great customer service. According to their protocol, agents are encouraged to stay on the phone with callers as long as they need to show the company’s dedication to their valued customers. Representatives are available 24/7 to assist callers, no matter how long the conversations may get.

This might be the reason why some of their most talked about calls lasted 9 hours and 37 minutes, 10 hours and 29 minutes, or even 10 hours and 43 minutes.

With such call lengths, the question arises: what on Earth can you talk about for 10 hours?

Diane (10hr, 29min) discussed what it’s like to live in LA with her caller (who ended up buying a pair of boots). Steven (10hr, 43min) helped a customer with an order then chatted for long hours about vacations and restaurants with her.

As Shaea (9hr, 37min) puts:

“We talked about life, movies and favorite foods. (…) Sometimes people just need to call and talk. We don’t judge, we just want to help.” source: Yahoo Finance

2. The largest fine for robocall spamming may be $225 million

According to CNBC, two telemarketers were fined 225 million dollars in 2019 for robocall spamming. The spam callers used automated phone calls to falsely advertise and sell short-term health insurance plans.

As per the Federal Communications Commission (who fined the two Texas-based marketers), they made approximately one billion robocalls.

3. The oldest written customer complaint is 3767 years old

What would you do if you had a bad experience buying a product or using a service? Maybe you’d call the company’s customer service representative or write a letter of complaint. Perhaps you’d even leave a negative review to warn others.

The process wasn’t much different thousands of years ago, either – at least based on the oldest written customer complaint. The relic (most commonly known as the complaint tablet to Ea-nasir) provides an interesting insight into an unsatisfied 18th century BC customer’s story.

Merchant Ea-nasir supposedly delivered the wrong grade of copper to customer Nanni. In response, Nanni wrote his complaints on the famous tablet, listing several other issues he had with Ea-nasir – from treating his servant rudely to handling a past delivery poorly.

Image source: The British Museum

A short passage of the heated complaint reads:

“How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full. Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.” source: Guinness World Records

4. The largest telephone conference call had 16 972 participants

This Guinness World Record was set on 12 December 2012 in an event by Broadnet Teleservices, an American software company in the telecommunications industry. In the event, all 16 972 participants were on the call for at least 10 seconds.

Interestingly, there were more people in the conference call at the beginning of the event – the number of attendees had to be reduced because of two electronic checks during the setting of the record.

5. The longest time being put on hold is 15 hours and 40 minutes

According to surveys, 44% of customers are unsatisfied with a wait time between 5-15 minutes. How about being put on hold for almost 16 hours?

This is what happened to Andrew Kahn, who initially called Qantas Airways to confirm a flight. After being put on hold, he wanted to find out how long it’d take for the airline’s customer service system to actually transfer him to an agent. Andrew’s simple inquiry turned into 15 hours and 40 minutes of waiting – at the end, he abandoned the call without speaking to anyone.

According to Qantas Airways, they don’t have a record of the call in their system – their longest hold time on record is only 17 minutes. However, if Andrew can provide sufficient proof with his telephone log, they’re willing to reimburse him for the prolonged call.

6. The first electrical speech synthesizer is considered to be the Voder

The Voder (Voice Operation DEmonstratoR) was first demonstrated in 1939. Developed by research physicist Homer Dudley, this machine was the first step towards today’s machine-generated speech.

The machine produced two types of sounds electrically: one resembling taking a breath, and one resembling the vocal cords. Handling the Voder’s keys and pedals to produce human-like speech was similar to playing a musical instrument.

Although it was difficult to use and had its limitations, the Voder inspired the German electronic music movement and paved the way for more advanced technologies in the field.

7. The first ever telemarketing firm is 66 years old this year

In 1957, DialAmerica started its operations with one inbound and one outbound calling station. In the 1960s, they launched a sales campaign for local sports teams and non-profit organizations. Since the 1970s, their services have expanded to areas like banking, internet services and magazine publications as well.

The firm is still in business – today, they operate with over 5000 contact center agents in more than 20 call centers across the U.S. According to their LinkedIn, they make 200 million calls annually and hit an average of 100 000 hours of talk time a week.

8. The global call center capital is considered to be the Philippines

Hundreds of companies worldwide (including large companies like Jetstar from Australia or Citibank from the U.S) have decided to outsource their call center services to the Philippines, and over 1 million locals work in call centers across the country.

There are various factors that make the Philippines such an attractive destination for an outsourced call center. With the cost of living in the Philippines being roughly three times less than in the U.S, labor costs are much lower (even compared to other Asian countries like China or India). Moreover, agents in the Philippines are known for their great work ethic, kind behavior and cultural affinity to Western countries. On top of all this, as English is used as a second language in their country, many locals in the Philippines are proficient in English.

Had fun?

We hope you enjoyed these fun facts as much as we did. Feel free to use them whenever you’re in need of one.

Care to read some more blog posts about contact centers? Check out these pages:

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