November 24, 2009 / 3:15 PM / 10 years ago

Revealed: the perfect telephone call center accent

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Regional accents may be more prominent on radio and television in today’s Britain, but the “Queen’s English” remains the preferred accent for call centres and promoting products to consumers, a new survey shows.

Over half the respondents were more inclined to listen to a sales promotion if it came from a voice they found “appealing.”

Two-thirds also admitted they could not understand non-British accents when talking to a call center.

The poll of 2,072 British adults revealed that 52 percent find the “Queen’s English” most appealing when speaking to a call center.

The Scottish accent came second at 34 percent and the northeastern Geordie twang third at 26 percent, followed by accents from Yorkshire and Wales.

The least popular accents were those from Liverpool or Birmingham, which tied at nine percent.

The poll was carried by YouGov for business speech consultants Nuance Communications

It said organizations which use off-shore customer call centres in the belief that they are more cost-effective, should note that the poll revealed that 65 percent of Britons who have rung a call center find non-British accents hard to understand.

Amongst those over 45 years of age, this figure rises to over 70 percent.

“Some of the world’s biggest companies invest millions of pounds each year ensuring that the way their brands look’ and feel’ reflect the values and beliefs of the brand,” said Nuance’s Northern European General Manager Ian Turner.

“Yet very few organizations actually think about how their brand speaks’, despite the fact that the vast majority of customer service communication and advertising is based on listening.”

The survey also showed that voice gender played a role in brand appeal to consumers.

Only eight percent of women who have rung a call center believe a female voice inspires confidence when they are making a complaint.

Men in the same position have more confidence in women’s voices than women themselves, at 15 percent.

Reporting by Paul Casciato, editing by Steve Addison

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