Follow Spanish ban on call centre bots, says Tees Business Leader

Martin Anderson, CEO of Stockton-based Lemon Contact Centre has written to consumers minister, Paul Scully MP, urging him to do more to tackle shoddy customer service from companies using robots to address complaints.

In his letter, Mr Anderson referred to legislation emerging in Spain where Mr Scully’s counterpart, Alberto Garzón, has proposed legislation to give consumers a legal right to speak to a human rather than a robot on customer service calls. The Customer Attention Bill, which is expected to become law in 2022, will apply to companies with more than 250 employees or £42million in annual turnover and automatically to those providing water, energy, transport, delivery, telecommunications and financial products.

Mr Anderson stopped short of calling for the same approach in the UK, instead urging the minister to consider establishing a code of best practice for customer service, especially for organisations providing critical services.

Martin Anderson, CEO of Lemon Contact Centre, said: “The pandemic has been used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card for many frontline, customer-facing, organisations which have blamed increased response times on COVID-19 restrictions. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Organisations, especially those providing key services and utilities, must be held to account for poor customer service and over-reliance on chatbots. There is, of course, a double incentive for them to do so: they save costs on staffing; and customers find it more difficult to access refunds or change providers.

“I look forward to receiving the minister’s response to my plea, on behalf of consumers everywhere, who have fallen foul of shoddy customer service by organisations cutting corners at the public’s expense!”

Lemon Contact Centre provides outsourced multi-channel contact services to a range of customers and sectors across the UK from its base at Preston Farm, Stockton on Tees.

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