How ‘not’ to retain customers and win new friends

Even though it has been a busy month I am reminded this evening just how much a bad customer experience can negatively affect an individuals’ view of an organisation or business. Recently I had to champion an issue for a close personal friend. They had a relatively simple issue which required a relatively simple solution. However after days of getting nowhere they asked for my help.

As patient as I am I found it very difficult to maintain a sense of calmness when it took over 50 minutes and 4 attempts of another department to actually get me through to the correct department, by phone, in order to actually speak to someone that could help. Another five painful days of the same thing followed, and after three unsuccessful house calls where the company kept sending out the wrong “repair person”, things were looking grim.

Seven days later and I was still pleading to be able to just speak to a manager who could take ownership of this very simple issue but to no avail. The promised call-backs to me did not happen. Meanwhile my friend who was affected was still being billed for a full service even though they were receiving no service at all! The mind boggles until I am reminded that such behemoths (utility companies) have, as the saying goes, “a neck like a jockey’s preverbal”.

Eventually the complaint that I had logged via their web site (10 days later) finally lead to call back by a complaints handler. Ironically a different complaints manager called me on the same day to follow up as well. Never a bus when you need one then two turn up at once.

Twelve days later and after eight full hours (a billable day) of my time lost and three days for my friend (who had to wait in all day for the wrong engineer to be sent out on three different occasions) the issue was finally resolved by the correct engineer within 15 minutes.

What does all this mean?

1) What was the cost to the company of inefficiently and incompetently dealing with, what was effectively a simple issue, in the end?

2) My view of this company which I buy services from has been negatively affected. Other than a lack of completion in the market place my friend and I would have switched to another service provider.

3) Do service providers (utilities in this case) get the right balance between quality versus cost when dealing with issues, complaints, request  or even in service provision?

4) Busses will always come in two’s.

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