As my experience today with EE has shown, organisations can learn a lot from their customers if they are prepared to listen. One of the dangers for any organisation that uses Social Media is that if you get it wrong when you are dealing with your customers the story gets told far and wide. You lose control of the story you want to tell and then you let others create the impression that your customers and potential customers have of your organisation.
If you want to get it right then training for your social media staff is essential – including responding to the questions the customer asks and not simply ignoring them when they are clearly unhappy. But equally important is the training and support you give your support/back office staff and that’s where I am going to focus in this post.
Let me share some of the poor experience I had with EE and as the good Learning & Development Professional that I am(!) I will also share my thoughts on where there are learning points for them to improve their customer service:
Placing The Order
I did something last night that I thought would be fairly straightforward. Having been a loyal customer of EE in its’ various incarnations for many years I decided that I would upgrade and recontract with them for my mobile broadband and also my partner’s mobile ‘phone. I have two mobiles with them as well as my mobile broadband service so they earn a not unreasonable sum from me each and every month.
I decided to do the upgrades through their online chat facility as it seemed the easiest and most straightforward approach. Initially it was and the Online Chat Advisor appeared to be helpful. But that’s where it ended!
Having placed an order for both the new mobile ‘phone device and the new mobile broadband device I was advised by the Online Chat Advisor that I would receive a text message to my mobile “that gives you your 1h delivery time slot, if you want to change the delivery day or time you can respond to the text directly, (not the address though, just the day or time).”
Feeling Let Down
This morning I did receive a text message which gave me a link to the couriers website. No mention of a 1 hour delivery slot. I then clicked through to the website only to find that if I wanted a one and a half hour delivery slot I would need to pay £10! So in order to ensure delivery when we would be available I reluctantly paid £10 and assumed that this related to both devices.
Sadly that transpired not to be the case and an hour later I received another text with the delivery information for the second device. Again I was expected to pay £10 to get a guaranteed delivery slot. So two separate parcels from EE, both being delivered by the same couriers no doubt at the same time and a charge of £10 for each. During a tortorous telephone conversation with their Customer Service Centre and having been passed through 5 different individuals I was advised that the message wasn’t correct because it assumed that I was buying during the week and then it would be right!
#LearningPoint for EE – ensure that your systems work, the information your advisors give out is correct and that your advisors are aware of differences in your operating procedures if they are different at various times of the week/day.
Feeling Like A Hot Potato
The telephone call I made this morning was painful in the extreme. As I mentioned in the comments above I was passed through 5 different individuals before I got something even vaguely resembling a resolution – although I have to say I wait to be convinced:
When I spoke to the first individual (having paid their fee to be put to the front of the queue!) I started by explaining calmly and politely that I was an unhappy customer and would like to explain why. I started to do this but he kept interrupting me mid-sentence. I asked him if he would listen to what I had to say and was met with “well when you have done!” #LearningPoint – this is basic customer service stuff – if a customer tells you they are unhappy let them talk – get their story and then summarise back to them what you understand are their issues. Never, respond to them in a way which is bound to aggravate them even further!
I eventually managed to finish advising this individual that I was unhappy, felt I had been misled, had not received any confirmation emails about my order and was being charged twice for the delivery of both parts of my order. Their response was frankly amazing given that they are effectively a technology company. It appears that any dealing via the internet are not updated onto their systems for at least 7 days. So if you place an order online the people who answer the calls to their Contact Centres will have no information about it. Frankly if that is the case then I am staggered. However, if it is the case then there is a very clear #LearningPoint – get your systems joined up so that the people who are dealing with your customers have instant access to the information about those customers.
After this initial discussion I was then passed through 4 further individuals. Each of whom I had to repeat my complaint to because there was no handover of the call from the previous person. Indeed it felt like my call was being treated like the proverbial “hot potato” made all the more obvious by the fact that each time I was placed back in a queue to be dealt with. #LearningPoint equip your staff with the skills to handle calls, give them access to the information they need to ensure a first time fix in the majority of cases and ensure that your staff tell the customer what is happening.
In an ideal world I wouldn’t deal with an organisation that treats their customers in the way I have been dealt with today. But it’s not an ideal world because invariably with an organisation like EE we are tied into contracts which they would make us pay for to get out of. But these organisations need to change their attitudes because treating people badly when you think you have them tied into contracts is just storing up lost business for the future and leads to loss of new business right now from people who hear about how others have been treated.
If there is one overall #LearningPoint it would be treat your customers like you would want to be treated and ensure your systems, processes and procedures enable your staff to do that.
Simple really isn’t it! Are these Learning Points that the Leadership Team at EE are prepared to take on board and action? Only time will tell!