How would you define seamless service?
Oct 23, 2013
Contact Strategies
Poor communication breeds contempt and increases costs. Earlier this week I contacted our Internet service provider because we were having speed and access issues.  Apparently the solution was to ‘upgrade.’ I was reluctant to do this as in the past making these simple service changes invariably resulted in unscheduled down time and much angst.
After being reassured that this time it “would positively be seamless” I took a deep breath and agreed to proceed. For the next 35 minutes or so I waited on hold while my order was processed before I was advised that I was “good to go!” I had to prompt to determine when the technician would be coming out to complete the installation and was advised “sometime Friday” and he would take care of “everything.” My antennae went up but being the eternal optimist I convinced myself that I had made the right decision. 
Today is Wednesday.  When I went to log on this morning to retrieve my emails I was greeted with: “Congratulations on your purchase of … Internet service. This step will set up your … Internet access and will activate your modem. Complete this process in a few minutes and start surfing the web!”
I was then asked to “enter the User ID and password that was included in your introductory kit to activate your new modem.”  Well there are a couple of problems with this scenario. 
First of all I’m not a new customer.  I’ve been with this company for more than 17 years though again after this experience I question why?  Maybe because we’re under a contract that automatically renews when I’m not paying attention!
Secondly, my new modem has yet to be installed and from the way the message was worded I assumed that I needed a new user ID and password so I steeled myself to deal with ‘Joyce the Voice’ in my quest to find someone to help me get my day started.
Fortunately, it’s before 6 am so my IVR choices are limited and I actually got through to technical support after three rings. I can tell that I have reached their outsource partner by the scripted “I understand and I can help” and I’m sure she can because from the tone of her voice it’s easy to tell that this is not the first or last time that she’ll have to deal with a call of this nature.
The verification process is painful even though I have a ticket number that is never requested but the representative is well trained and leads me through a series of steps to regain access to the Internet. As it turns out all I had to do was punch in my existing user ID and password and unplug the modem for 30 seconds to allow for a reset and we were back in business. I was informed that this was required for ‘security purposes’ before the company could set up the installation appointment.  In total this call took almost 9 minutes.
I’m glad “calls are recorded for training and quality assurance purposes” but too often we put the onus on our representatives to ensure that the customer has a good experience when the company has actually dropped the ball by issuing poor communiques and implementing processes that are any thing but customer friendly. This is a classic example of a big company’s ‘inside-out’ perspective that frustrates customers, stresses employees and causes unnecessary and redundant calls which negatively impacts not only customer loyalty but also the company’s bottom line.
Now to add insult to injury, yesterday I received a personalized letter from this same company that if I signed up for their Enhanced Business Bundle I could realize savings up to 40% and simplify my billing but when I had inquired about this earlier in the week I was advised that “we were not eligible.” So guess what, I’ll be making another call today because to quote the letter “you deserve every opportunity to get the best services and savings”.
I’ll keep you posted on and invite your comments.