Please hold . . . The death of customer service
The Communications Alliance and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association got one thing right in their recent assessment of Australian “customer management”; there are a significant number of “problem areas” in their industry but they’ve got nothing to do with our collective inability as customers to understand “how things work”. Customer service dropped dead in this country a long time ago, we just took too long to see the warning signs.
Consumer affairs writer, Natasha Bita reported in yesterday’s Australian that although they admit to having a problem with keeping their customers happy, Australia’s telcos are refusing to agree to legislation that would bind them to “minimum levels of customer service” for fear it would make them “inefficient, confusing and undesirable”.
That’s an interesting choice of words for an industry that received 215,154 complaints to the Ombudsman from consumers last financial year. Not to mention a fairly apt description of the current status quo.
Let’s start with inefficient. Think about the last time you had to ring and follow up a utility bill or make a banking complaint. Did you get through to the person you needed straight away or was there a seemingly endless “options” menu?
Note to all service providers, if we’ve put aside the necessary 40 minutes (minimum) required to talk to you at all, we don’t need ten selections, three would suffice: press one if you’re ringing because you’re angry that we’ve over charged you; press two if you’re ringing because you’re angry that we’ve charged you a late fee on a bill you’ve already paid and press three if you’re angry because the first two things have happened to you more than once.
They could also lose the “feedback” option because we’re never calling to say that we care.
Confusing: why do itemised bills need to be so long and complicated? Is it a ploy to hide the “mysterious” charges that so often crop up on page ten, eleven or twelve? Some people still read them you know.
A friend recently told me that she rang one particular company to complain after discovering a call she’d made from South Australia, a state she’d never even been to. While another was sent a debt collectors notice after their internet toggle was sent to one address while the bills went to a residence they hadn’t occupied for several years.
Undesirable: there are few things more frustrating than having to call every week to follow up a problem for any kind of service only to have to explain the very same scenario to a different person each time. Why is it so hard to take notes so that next time we call a service provider, they’re already one step ahead of the problem?
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