We all have ‘bad customer service’ stories. My Learned Colleague Ed Finegold has an excellent story about getting a refund from an airline. In the end, the CSR had to work with Ed to trick his own processes.
My story comes from telecoms and involves a White Box.
I do not get mobile coverage where I work. Parts of the UK are wonderfully remote. Salvation came in the form of a White Box. One of the three big mobile companies has a device that you plug into your router and, after it has simmered for a couple of hours, presumably talking to different networks and shaking hands with various bits of equipment, hey presto, you have full, 3G mobile coverage where before their was none.
We moved everyone over to the new mobile company, one at a time, to avoid early termination fees. My own phone was the last to move and I treated myself to one of those new smartphones at the same time. All was well. Then lightning struck. Literally.
It took out the router and the White Box. We had a replacement router on hand and I ordered a new White Box. It didn’t work, nor did its replacement.
Over the course of three days I talked to the Mobile Company, the Broadband Company and the Router Company. They all employ nice, patient people. However, after call number 14, patience was wearing thin and the Blame Game was in full swing. The Router Company said I had to have an IP address for the White Box but would not tell me how to find it. The Mobile Company said they didn’t know and I should talk to the Broadband Company. Which I did, at length and even agreed to pay them to help me solve the issue. Which they couldn’t. The White Box is still just a White Box. 3G is, again, a distant dream.
Overall, the experience of talking to the actual people was pretty good but one thing really began to irritate me.
When you call the Mobile Company, you enter your mobile number before you get through. Then the first thing they ask you is your mobile number, followed by three security questions. OK, so asking for your number and then asking for your number again is absurd in this day and age – but this is what really gets me: when they realize that they cannot help and pass you on to Technical (with just the one ‘on hold’ tune in total – “Gimme Shelter” – my version: “Gimme Strength”) you have to give them your number and answer the security questions all over again.
Surely, the process should be better than that. Once the Mobile Company knows that you are who you say you are you should not have to prove you are who you say you are to other people in the company – particularly if it means listening to awful music in the meantime.
The conclusion – please, Mobile Company (and anyone else who doesn’t do this) make the links between Support Desks a little bit slicker, a little bit less like a company whose processes are not joined up.
Oh, and don’t call my mobile. It still doesn’t work.