I purchased a video-conferencing unit to connect my office visually with clients all over the world. To use the equipment I need a high-speed telephone line. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just call the telephone company.” I was expecting decent customer service quality.
The telephone company referred me to the ISDN Department for high-speed access. The ISDN Department referred me to an outside vendor who faxed me an application form from the telephone company! Not exactly the customer service quality I anticipated!
I filled out the forms and faxed them back to the vendor. He faxed them back to the ISDN Department, who then called me to arrange an appointment. But the appointment is only to “lay the line.” A second appointment is needed after that to “commission the line.” In between these two appointments, the vendor must come once again to install special “terminator” equipment. Phew!
As I was ordering high-speed access for video-conferencing, I considered using the same line for high-speed access to the Internet. The vendor faxed me another form from a different department of the telephone company (the Internet Access Department), which I filled out and returned to the vendor. The vendor faxed the form to the Internet Access Department.
The Internet Access Department called me to clarify my decision. Was I aware of the extra charges? Did I know the line was not toll-free like my current analog line? Had the vendor explained that I needed yet another piece of special equipment. Phew!
I asked whether it was better to use ISDN for high-speed Internet access, or should I use ADSL or cable. The person from the Internet Access Department said I had to speak to the people in the ISDN Department for a comparison, but the lady at the ISDN Department didn’t know anything about ADSL. In fact, she said, the ADSL Department was “a different company.” When I reached the ADSL Department (which is very much part of the same telephone company), I became quite overwhelmed trying to compare installation charges, monthly charges, toll vs. toll-free charges, monthly plans with hourly rates, and per minute charges above the monthly plans. Clearly, there was an issue with customer service quality.
“And do you realize,” she asked, “that you can use ISDN for videoconferencing and Internet access, but cannot use ADSL for Internet and video-conferencing without installation of another special server?” Phew!
No one at the telephone company could help me compare. The most helpful person was the outside vendor. This was not the customer service quality I’d hoped for.
Finally, I gave up.
Key learning point about customer service quality
This telephone company desperately needs one point of contact to educate and serve customers in a user-friendly way. This single point of contact should be connected and empowered (internally and externally) to make all necessary arrangements for sales, installation, commissioning, selection of new equipment, scheduling of appointments, questions about billing…even customer training after installation, if required. This will improve customer service quality.
The critical issue is not cost. People are willing to pay for value-added services. The critical issue is convenience and customer service quality.
PS: This telephone company is about to get a major new competitor. Watch out!
Action steps to improve customer service quality
Now look at your procedures and processes from your customers’ point of view. If your system is disjointed, unclear or confusing, your customers are going to have a problem. Which means you have a problem, too! Fix them to improve customer service quality.
Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “UP! Your Service” books and founder of UP! Your Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpYourService.com.