Communicating with Communications Companies is Absurd

Melissa Swartz | No Jitter | December 23, 2015

No-Jitter-Logo-borderMaybe it’s time to remember that communication is critical, even to communications companies.

It’s no secret that some of the largest companies in the communications industry don’t really communicate very well with their customers. Here are a couple of examples that fall under the heading of “You can’t make this stuff up”:

I called XYZ company (names have been changed to protect the guilty) to place an order. After multiple menu selections and entering three different pieces of information in the IVR, I reached a menu that said “To place an order, press 1…”. Once the agent answered, I told her I was calling to place an order. She asked me to repeat the information that I had entered into the IVR, and then asked for additional information, which I provided. After all this, she told me that I could not place an order over the phone and would have to email the request.

And then there’s this chat conversation with a different company, which has been edited for brevity:

ABC Company: Hello, how may I help you today?

Customer: The technician was supposed to be here between 8 a.m. and noon and call 30 minutes in advance. No call, no show — please advise status.

Carl: Thank you for contacting ABC company. My name is Carl. I understand your concern, and I will guide you in the right direction. May I have your name and your email address?

Customer: (provides name and email)

Carl: I see that the email address you’ve provided is associated with Product X.

Carl has left the chat.
You are being transferred, please hold…
Agent Harvey enters chat.

Harvey: Thank you for contacting ABC company. My name is Harvey. How can I help you today?

Customer: I don’t need Product X. I need wireline/landline support.

Harvey: As I understand, you want to know the information for the landline?

Customer: No, I want the status on a move order. (Repeats first question: The technician was supposed to be here between 8 a.m. and noon and call 30 minutes in advance. No call, no show — please advise status.)

Customer: Carl ditched me as soon as he saw the email address.

Harvey: You want the status on the technician?

Customer: Yes, please.

Harvey: (Asks for additional information which customer provides)

Harvey: Sorry, I’m unable to pull up your account.

Customer: Then please get someone who can. This is getting frustrating. I’m staring at the order on your website. I simply want an update on why there was a no-call/ no-show.

Harvey: Sorry, Carl, you’ve reached support for Product X.

Customer: I am not Carl — he is the ABC Company agent who transferred me to you. This is absurd.

Harvey: Sorry, absurd, I’ll help you with your issue. I’ll give you the phone number to a specialist who can assist you further. Would that be OK? The number is…

Customer: So helpful. Thank you. Goodbye.

Harvey: Thank you for choosing ABC Company, Absurd, we appreciate your business.

How many rules of customer service did these two examples break? Let’s see, there’s:

  • Asking customer to repeat information
  • Offering invalid menu options
  • Requiring the customer to change media (call to email, chat to call)
  • Not listening to/ reading the reason for the call
  • Transferring the customer without permission
  • Transferring to the wrong place
  • Calling the customer by the wrong name
  • Thinking that “absurd” is a name
  • Requiring the customer to make another call

While I have to admit that I did laugh when the agent thought the customer’s name was Absurd, the rest is a sad commentary. These companies are known as “service providers.” They are setting the bar in our industry for billing practices, customer service, and so much more. As they lower the bar, competitors follow them down, cutting costs and service levels themselves.

Our customers deserve better. These companies offer technology and advice to organizations but neglect to properly implement and manage their own customer service operations. Mindless adherence to metrics and failure to listen are driving customers away. These “too big to fail” companies are becoming irrelevant as customers find other options. Maybe it’s time to remember that communication is critical, even to communications companies.

This column was originally featured on No Jitter as part of the contributors column “SCTC Perspectives,” a weekly post written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC). The SCTC is an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

No Jitter provides daily commentary and analysis of the enterprise IP telephony, unified communications, and converged networking worlds, with unique access, insights, vigilance, energy, and reputation, which allow it to generate vibrant content daily. No Jitter strives to be the leading online community for the exchange, debate, and incubation of ideas and best practices regarding enterprise communications and collaboration. It is produced by the same people who run Enterprise Connect, the largest conference/exhibition in the U.S. devoted exclusively to enterprise communications.

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