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123 posts

Master Geek

#12963 16-Apr-2007 12:43
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Three events have made me ponder the way that big businesses operate:

1. I am currently trying to get an 'issue' resolved with Telecom. I wanted to change my mobile data plan. I won't bore you with the details except to say that I was put on the wrong one and charged accordingly. Needless to say, I wasn't undercharged!

What it seems to have boiled down to is the call centre person didn't know the procedure properly and/or gave me the wrong information.

2. Over the last 18 months, I have been dealing with my British bank, Abbey, who made a series of mistakes relating to my change of address within NZ in 2005, which led to my account being blocked. This made it impossible to retrieve money paid in by my British clients, which had knock-on effects on my financial situation, etc. I finally got an apology, compensation of £210, and everything was sorted out, but it took 18 months!

Again, this all arose because the first call centre person I spoke to didn't know the procedure for expat changes of address but pretended he did and gave me the wrong information. This resulted in the change of address not happening, mail being returned to Abbey, my account being blocked, and cheques bouncing, all due to a single blunder by someone at a call centre who got something wrong.

I won't bore you with the details of the sorry story ...

3. The Telstra/Clear fiasco that I have talked about on here.

It seems that almost everyone can tell similar stories which usually involve the following features:

* A call centre person making an initial blunder.

* The blunder has certain knock-on effects that come to seriously affect some important aspect of the person's life.

* Many failed attempts to contact someone with the authority, intelligence, time and willingness to deal with it.

* Hopes rising and then being dashed, as you manage to speak to someone who has to qualities above ... but who then fails to do what was promised and can't be contacted again.

* Many, many hours on the phone being bounced from person to person.

It seems that the problem is endemic to the way that big organisations do business. There are several faultlines:

1. The educational level/ability of the staff employed for frontline customer service.

2. The rigidity of business processes, requiring staff to be trained in a monkey-like fashion, rather than encouraged to use genuine problem-solving skills.

3. Ever-increasing 'performance' requirements for frontline staff.

4. Lack of adequate documentation by staff of key aspects of contacts with customers.

5. Lack of a clear 'issue escalation' hierarchy that is transparent to customers.

6. No one individual takes responsibility for particular customer relationships, thus requiring customers seeking issue resolution to explain their problem repeatedly to different people.

7. Inadequate resources for staff/departments devoted to issue resolution.

Now ... my point is this ... it seems clear that this way of doing business fails too many customers and is highly fault-intolerant. But it seems to be the dominant business model of many, many organisations, and nobody seems to be doing anything differently.

It seems to me that a company that can operate in a way that is more fault-tolerant would ultimately be more successful ...

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BDFL - Memuneh
67753 posts

Uber Geek

Lifetime subscriber

#67208 16-Apr-2007 12:55
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You just distiled what most people perceive as the "evil" in large organisations... They don't provide proper training, they employ individuals with no sense of responsibility and the customer/client/consumer/end user is penalised. It happens too many times, but it seems they don't give a damn to complains.

I am sure you will find the same with other companies. How many times my wife said I am a pesssimist when I call a service centre and an agent tells me such and such will be done in this and that date, and I say "I doubt it will work". Most of the times I am right, and things don't work without a second or third calls. There are some rare exceptions, but those are in so small numbers compared with the bad experience provided by most companies...



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489 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #67213 16-Apr-2007 13:08
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Yip, you couldn't have summed that up better for my experiences with Telecom, Studylink and WINZ.

Every time I have had an issue promises to take care of the problem have lead to nothing. Generally after a couple of calls with out resolution it's time to step up the the first line of managers, unfortunately they seem even better at promising but even worse at delivering.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason that they are first level managers is that they know how to sweet talk a customer rather then any problem solving ability

pɐǝɥ sıɥ uo ƃuıpuɐʇs


298 posts

Ultimate Geek
Inactive user

  #67219 16-Apr-2007 13:28
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I just got some interesting tech support from Sky TV a few nights ago, I'm still confussed about it, I was told to unplug my tv and wait 30seccons then plug it back in to fix the sky decoder changing to the preview (0) channel 1min after changing to a booked program.  I tried asking her how that would help but was told that is the procedure. Hmmmm - Sky decoder still does this by the way.

3363 posts

Uber Geek


  #67224 16-Apr-2007 13:40
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Unplug the TV or unplug the decoder?

Banks usually record call centre conversations but probably to safeguard themselves rather than the customer. Telecom in the past seemed to rely on some discretionary limit that the CSR could writeoff. This worked for some but not others.

489 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #67316 17-Apr-2007 08:17
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I have resolved that whenever I am dealing with a large organization to write the time/date/CSR spoken to and what the promises made were into a little notebook. I always wish that I had started one at about the 10th call to fix the same problem

pɐǝɥ sıɥ uo ƃuıpuɐʇs

460 posts

Ultimate Geek
Inactive user

  #67642 19-Apr-2007 01:03
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Yeah totally.

You basically have to insist on getting reference numbers & the name of the person who you're talking to aye because when you call a second time, who knows who will answer.

There was one crucial bullet point missed out on the first post. Language and accent of the telephone rep.

Who here has had to call up a company (power/phone/winz/whatever) and heard on the other end of the line 'Hurro!!' ?

Now don't get me wrong I dont care for whatever ethnicity a person is but damn I really wish companies would encourage good english speaking skills for their customer-facing staff.

McDonalds is horrid for this. I have had the person behind the counter not know what the word 'delay' was when I asked if there was a delay on some burger I wanted. It really stops you from wanting to ask questions when you can't understand the person behind the counter / on the phone.


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