So, for my first guest post on COMNIO’s Customer Service Blog, came about, as fate would have it, through a series of tweets…
I had been asked to share my point-of-view on various customer service topics, as I have been and continue to be working at the cutting edge of customer service and support in Ireland in management and consultancy.
When talking about the topic in question, “inside customer service tips for every consumer from an industry executive in telecom,” I had to pause and think about what I wanted to share. I think it’s easy to delivery great customer service, but for some reason most companies keep getting it wrong.
During my time working with, what was (at the time) a new, leading ISP in Ireland, I had a big falling out with the CEO. Our disagreement was over the delivery of customer support. The company wanted to keep pace with Ireland’s leading broadband providers and services. I, along with other managers, had numerous meetings with the CEO wherein I explained how we were ill-equipped to keep pace with our larger competitors for one good reason: we could not handle the volume of internet traffic, so our back-end services would fail leading to a massive rise in service outages and customer complaints due to the outages.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. My customer support team was already stretched thin handling the increased call volume, because almost overnight the volume went from 20 calls waiting to over 300 calls waiting at any single moment. It was a nightmare. The worst part is that I was instructed to tell customers the connection issues were happening on their end (separating us from the fault, even though it was our fault).
No matter the issue, we were told to push back and blame the customer. Say anything, but do not admit the issue is our fault and in the background we will work as quickly as possible to resolve it.
This was (and still is) something that goes against every fiber of my being. Outright lying to customers, our customers, and blaming them for the issues we had knowingly caused.
Sadly, some companies have nothing but contempt for their customers, and any company that would mistreat and lie to its customers is a company with which I did not want to be associated. I left. The CEO and I had our discussion and I left the company. Little did I know, I would run up against a similar situation several more times in my career. Each time, I decided to leave the company because they were driven by money, not driven to provide customers with a quality product, service, and/or customer service experience.
Working in these companies taught me a lot about the telecom industry (and about providing good customer service). And with that, here are my expert tips for getting better customer service from telecom companies.
- Before you contact the company, have your facts, figures, and account information handy. You’ll need to reference it in order to get what you want. It also helps to know what you want (and what your options are). If you don’t know your options, then it helps to have read your contract.
- No matter what, remain calm. Never get on the phone and raise your voice or make threats. Simply and calmly explain to the customer service agent the issue(s) you are having. You must remember, it is not the fault of the person to whom you’re talking. They are (believe it or not) there to help you and will do their best, but only if you stay calm and treat them with a little respect.
- Find out if others around you have experienced the same service issues – either by asking your neighbors, friends, and colleagues, or by asking the customer service agent. Just politely ask, “is this problem isolated, or have you heard of others experiencing the same issues?” If, through speaking to your friends and neighbors, you find they are having problems, too, encourage them to complain (but reference this blog post first). There is strength in numbers, but you need to be organized in order to be effective.
- Document everything – times and dates for outages, the name and (if applicable) employee ID of the people you speak with, and specifically the problem(s) you’re having (mention if others are also having the same problems), and specifically what you were told and when. This information is very helpful for the support teams and will make it easy to hand off your case to a company like COMNIO, in the event you decide to seek third-party help.
- Check speed issues with an independent third-party like the Ookla internet speed testing service and compare with the service providers own service checks. Again keep records and know your plan’s details (specifically, what your speeds are supposed to be vs. what they are).
- If you’re going to call, make sure you have a strong phone signal. It can be infuriating (as a customer) when your call is dropped and you have to call back in and wait on hold (again).
- Don’t be afraid to escalate your issue – all you have to do is ask. It helps if you look up and find the name of a person at the top. It doesn’t hurt to Google “company name CEO” or replace “CEO” with “head of support,” “head of CRM,” “customer service director,” etc. You can also lookup their name (and sometimes email address) through search engines or on LinkedIn.
- Even better than asking to be escalated, try contacting the person at the top yourself. Explain your situation, why you’re unhappy, and tell them what you want. It’s unreal how often this works for me. Again, be polite and detailed.
- If everything else fails, and you are making no progress, or you are simply getting ignored and the situation is spiraling out of control, try reaching out to consumer advocacy organizations. If the issue affects more than just you, contact your local news and share the story. If you have a solid social media following, it sometimes helps to try sharing your disappointment (in a classy manner) online or using Twitter. I have had cases where within hours of going on my blog and Twitter, the company had sent me an email or reached out by phone, and my issues were resolved to my satisfaction. Again, I can’t stress this enough – be polite and do not post anything in anger as this will not result in a positive outcome. Just stick to the facts and be professional (not only in your word choice, but in the tone of voice).
- Lastly, if all of this sounds overwhelming and extremely time consuming, that’s because it is. Lucky for you, there are companies like COMNIO, designed to help consumers get better customer service everywhere – use COMNIO and save yourself the time, trouble, and frustration of dealing with bad customer service!
I hope you find my insights useful, and if you decide to go at it alone, I hope they help you achieve the outcome you want. You can reach out to me on COMNIO, or on my blog at Diary of a Working Dad with any questions.
A big thanks to COMNIO for the opportunity to share my insider customer service tips with their audience.
The Working Dad