“If operators cannot get the basics of customer service and coverage right, then – regardless of the generosity of their data allowances and the speed of their networks – they will have difficulty holding onto their customers.”
That’s one of the key findings of a mobile customer satisfaction survey carried out across Europe, South Korea and the USA by Analysys Mason. And it is interesting that they list customer service first. Good customer service demands joined up thinking across the network operator’s organisation, and joined up customer view across the continuously increasing number of communication channels – it demands an omni-channel approach.
So, with the name removed to spare the operator’s blushes, I thought I would share a colleague’s story of an omni-channel failure. Which is a shame because this story actually begins with some great, personal, customer service.
At contract renewal time, our colleague made a list of what he wanted from his business phone accounts and took the challenge into three operator stores one morning. The existing operator was first to respond, and that same day, March 10, a very helpful store assistant went through the options and closed the deal.
Three mobile numbers were renewed, and new handsets purchased. In addition, two new data-only SIM contracts were signed, sharing a much larger data bundle with the handsets. The existing SIM in an iPad was removed and replaced with one of the new data SIMs and the other went into a new MiFi device. Our colleague was now paying a larger monthly fee, but was very happy with the deal and the service – even writing an email of thanks to the store team, and giving them top marks in the text survey that followed.
However, the April monthly bill contained a surprise – there was still a charge for the iPad SIM the store staff had removed and replaced. The same helpful store staff said this was a mistake and they would get it corrected. Nevertheless, the May bill arrived with no refund and the same mistake. Our colleague wrote to the support service online; spent a long time on a helpline and took to Twitter.
At every turn, and with every group, they had to go through the story again from the beginning as there appeared to be no centralised record. Finally, the social media team emailed to say they had sorted the problem and the May bill had been credited to remove the charge. However, the April charge could not be refunded as “usage was made that month”. Apparently, in April, our colleague “used” the SIM that the store staff removed on March 10 and threw away.
However, the final evidence that this operator’s systems are not properly aligned came this last weekend. Our colleague received the standard disconnect letter asking whether he would like to reconsider leaving the network – after all, the letter reads, there are some very attractive offers available to save money if you stay. But our colleague has not left the network, and has already increased their monthly commitment – as any look at their customer records should show.
A true omni-channel CRM system would allow the operator to associate a store presence, with a business account enquiry, with all the account numbers, and with the social media profile. And it would remove the need to have to keep going through the same story. It’s the system we were showing at the TM Forum’s event in Nice this month, and at MWC earlier this year.
And it certainly wouldn’t trigger the standard “don’t leave the network” letter to a customer who has just increased their commitment to your service – in the process turning a happy advocate of the network into a disgruntled customer who feels let down by his provider.