Posts Tagged ‘Bad Customer Service’
Customer service is one of the most important parts of maintaining your company’s reputation. It seems though that there are still some companies who don’t actually believe in maintaining a positive relationship with their customer base.
Orange launched its brand as a soft fuzzy, the future is orange. Well, not with me after spending a morning on the phone trying to understand a bill that includes charges for phones lost two years ago, “orange care” for a handset that does not exist and payments made that have been lost… it is apparent that if the future is orange then it is pretty bleak.
What is clear from 90 minutes on the phone is that the Orange experience has changed substantially from those early optmistic days when they promised to look after you to becoming a large corporation with set in stone processes that we the customer have to follow. The experience got me thinking about how a brand and a reputation interact and how the one can affect the other.
Trying to work out the meaning of an eight page statement is the first problem. The second problem I encountered is that I get phoned by Orange to try to upsell me, but they did nothing to save me money or warn me about charges being incurred that made absolutely no sense – for example having an insurance package for a handset that does not exist. I also realised that I had to follow their processes if I wanted to get things done. In other words they break the central tenet of being customer-centric: instead of folding their processes around me, I have to work around them. When you have been charged for two years for a phone that does not exist you would expect them to have documentation, but no they dont…. but this is my fault and not theirs. In other words I had to prove that I did not want the phone as they could not prove that I did want it.
Most reputation issues start with failing processes in a company and those processes most frequently fail as a company’s internal processes get structured around internal efficiencies and cost savings and increasingly not around the customer. Some times it can more malicious than that as company’s deliberately processes to confuse customers (known in business theory as “confusion pricing”) such as when a company sends you an eight page statement which is difficult to understand or follow. So I could be malevolent and say that Orange is running a business scam (aka headline Orange Mobile Phone Scam) but it is not that. It is simply a growing culture where customers as a group matter, but as an individual you don’t matter any more. Of course as individuals we matter much more than the group, since it is not the group who complains but the individual as I am doing right now.
Few consumers believe brand advertising anymore and we rely on friends for advice. It is to our tech friends that we turn for advice on what we should buy or not buy. As one of those early adopter types, I often get asked what I think. Well, Orange does not get my vote now.
These experiences are wake up calls, so now I am studying my account online and also thinking about how I want to use mobiles in future. Of course like a lot of mobile users in the UK, I am signed into a long account (in my case 18 months!) which severely limits my leverage over the company.
What did Orange do wrong? They simply treated an issue as my problem and not theirs. Junior members of the team were responsible for managing the account and I had not way of speaking to anybody more senior ( an increasingly common problem with telecoms and contact centre based companies) and so there is no easy way for me to resolve the problem. Solution is to scale back my account and then actually close it at the first opportunity. So in a few months time, it is is bye bye Orange and I will choose my new supplier carefully.
It’s funny how the simplest lack of customers service or badly run service can get round the Internet. There are some people you just want to avoid offering bad service to like Matt Cutts, check out his U.S Airways Frequent Flyers Programme post.
In todays world of instant communication, it does not take long to get word out and if you have a massive following like Matt Cutts or Stephen Fry even quicker!!!
Hopefully U.S Airways will pick up on Matt’s post and respond accordingly. The airlines seem to really suffer when it comes to customer service, British Airways is great at loosing bags, Delta Airways serves pizza and lands at the scruffiest terminal in JFK. I think the airlines need to work harder on their reputation both on and off-line.
Reputation management and customer service run hand in hand, It’s simply because customers are turning their backs to businesses that do not deliver value and good customer service adds value. There’s no way around it. It’s not about being cheap or their would not be business and first class, it’s about looking after your customer.
Here are some Do’s
- If you promise something to a customer make sure you come through, if you can’t take the time and effort to explain why and offer an alternative or full refund.
- Keep customers informed and make it personal
Here are some don’t s
- Avoid not communicating with customers, even if just to say sorry no update
- Don’t give bogus reasons, be honest
- If a refund is due, don’t drag it out, just pay it
By no means is this an exhaustive list of costumer service points, just the ones that really annoy me.