I left Orange in December and crossed into civilian life as a mobile customer for the first time in my life - I now know the pain of selecting a tariff and handset when you’re on the outside, I’ve spend 4 hours on various support lines today arguing swearing, sweet-talking and finally plotting murder. Let me tell you my story…
- I decided to purchase a Nokia N73 with an O2 tariff from Dial-a-phone. They told me I could port my 7-year old number after ordering. Now they tell me ’sorry, we could only have ported your number at the point of purchase’. Their solution is to sell me another package and for me to return the current one…which they’re trying not to accept because I opened the box?!? Rather than trying to solve my problem, their agents keep quoting terms and conditions, and how I’m a bad, bad customer for not understanding their processes. Incidentally, their sales line is people and their support line is 100% automated. That’s an indication of how much they value customer experience - sales over service. I had to get various sales agents to walk relunctantly over to customer care people, just so I could speak to a real person.
- I called O2 in the hope that they could start the port of my number from my previous carrier, Orange. O2 pointed the finger at Dial-A-Phone… ‘I’m sorry, we can’t port your number even though you’re our customer, however we promise to bill you every month - really it’s the other guy’s fault, nothing to do with us, we just bill. Oh, did I mention billing?’.
- I call Orange’s Number Portability Team who explain that as I requested a number port, they’ve removed me from the free employee tariff and that I now have to pay each month because the porting process couldn’t be started by Dial-A-Phone. Mike Hughes, VP of Customer Services, must be proud ;)
Today, I also had to call my credit card company to change my mailing address. They were great, the agent’s computer seized up and he transferred me to another guy who quickly picked up my details and carried on the call. Also, I received some badly printed business cards from VistaPrint, I called up their customer line - within a few minutes they refunded my order, let me keep the cards and also sent me a couple confirmation emails. A few weeks ago, my car insurer emailed me to say they’d assigned an agent to handle my account and gave me a direct number and email address to reach them.
Three telephony companies were oriented to separating me from my money and my sanity - they treated me like I made the mistakes, I didn’t understand their business and that I was an idiot - and none solved my problem. I wonder what would’ve happened if I could get the three of them on a conference call?
A credit card company and a printer made me feel like I was the most important customer they ever had and fixed things for me within minutes. When things went wrong, they helped me out.
Technology, regulation, services and open source are often the things we speculate about in the ETel community, but I imagine customer care and the user experience of support are the most frustrating issues for millions of customers. We need to re-frame what customer support and customer service means - I proposed carriers need a Customer Love department - that bend over backwards to make sure every interaction is a pleasure, not a vesactomy with a rusty knife.
The gold sponsor for next week’s ETel 2007 is Orange - I hope they won’t bill me for looking at them funny ;)