Just say no
Open letter to [insert service provider here]
Hello. I thought you could use some feedback on my recent experience with your company.
Ultimately, when it came down to the installers actually doing the work, your technicians were knowledgeable, affable, and expert. If only the same could be said for the rest of your operations.
I spoke to 8 different people in various levels of Customer Care yesterday, and it seemed that each had different information. From the first contact at 8 AM, when I confirmed that all was on track and that I should expect my technician to show up between 9 and 12, to the 2nd, at 1 PM, who told me that my order was cancelled and proceeded to create a new order for me, to the last - who was the most competent and tenacious, and stayed with me on my mobile phone until the technicians actually arrived, not one could see the record of my most recent contacts in sequence, or could explain to me exactly why my order was in limbo.
Overall, there is an overriding sense that, particularly at the lower levels of customer care management, representatives are trained to limit customers' expectations, and to explain and apologize for what they cannot do rather than act on what they can do.
Clearly, [insert service provider]'s CMS must be incredibly complicated and managing customer care for an organization as large as yours is a daunting proposition. Nevertheless, when a company is in a position where so much power and control resides in one set of systems, the responsibility to attend to customer needs is magnified, rather than diminished. Look at Google. Look at Amazon. Other large 'monopolistic' corporations are succeeding by starting with the customer experience and building backward from there. If you don't know about it, go read up on how Zappo's dealt with their recent systems breach and ended up making better customers rather than losing any.
Low level representatives generally want to help, but cannot because they are not properly supported by training and systems - this must lead to feelings of uselessness and powerlessness, which cannot be good for morale or employee retention
The experience of being on hold with your company is excruciating because of the extremely poor sound quality of the hold music employed - I was much happier when agents put my call on mute, rather than sending me to 'hold hell'
transfers from one group to another are very poorly supported - there is degradation of the signal from one transfer to the next, and CSRs inevitably failed to provide a direct number in case the call was disconnected
there is no way to call back and pick up a conversation with the same agent one has dealt with earlier or to bypass the annoying IVR when one is calling for the seventh or eighth time
Speaking of IVR, I have no philosophical objection if it improves the quality and speed of service, but to force someone through a phone tree, then collect information that does not result in connecting with an informed agent is a demeaning waste of time for both customer and agent. If your system is going to ask me for account number or incident number or trouble ticket number, then the agent I connect with had better have my account on screen when she picks up.
I have taken the time to provide detailed feedback because I know that those of you at the top of the food chain at [insert service provider] would not accept the poor quality of interaction that I experienced when you are the customer. I hope my frustration can translate into better care on the front lines.