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The tiresome inconvenience of loyal inert paying customers

The tiresome inconvenience of loyal inert paying customers

Spoiler alert – one middle aged man was harmed in the authoring of this blog post – but he’s a big boy and he’ll be OK.  The following true story is based on a sample size of one – but it’s instructive of what happens when decision–makers are abstracted from the customer coal–face.

I have just switched mobile providers after fifteen years with my previous supplier.  I had no particular desire to leave my previous network, we had a customer relationship guy who was very responsive, they weren’t the cheapest but they were competitive enough, and I would probably have stuck with them semi–indefinitely if it wasn’t for a recent encounter.

I wanted to change the direct debit details on my profile to pay my bills from a different account and logged in to the online portal to do this.

The portal didn’t work so I thought I would take my chances with the web chat.

And that’s where things started to go downhill.  Here is an exact transcription of the conversation, with just some personal information redacted.

GD: Can I change my DD details?

Webchat: I understand that you want to change your account details. Do you want to change:

  • Your Password
  • Your Home Address
  • Your Username
  • Your email address

GD: DD

Webchat: Sorry, I didn’t understand the question. Can you please try rephrasing?

GD: Talk to person

Webchat: Could you tell me your full name please?

GD: Gareth Dunlop (I was logged into the portal with my unique credentials when I answered this)

Webchat: To help save you some time when speaking to an adviser, I’ll complete some quick security checks with you first.

For this security check, I’ll need to take your phone number to send you a security code by text. I’ll launch a secure pop–up for you to enter your number now.

Computer: [ 404 page pops up ]

Webchat: Doesn’t look like we were able to complete the security check. Would you like to try again?

GD: Secure pop–up showed a 404 page

Webchat: No problem, I can still check if an agent is available.

Could you please tell me your phone number?

GD: 077 xx xxx xxx

Actual human: Hello Gareth. Hope you are well

GD: Yes thank you.

Can I change my DD details please?

AH: Glad to know you are well. :)

Sure

Your number is 077 xx xxx xxx?

GD: Yes indeed.

AH: Thank you. A minute please

Thank you so much for your patience.

I can see your account is with xxxx–xxxxxxxxx

It is not a direct contract with [ network name ] please.

Team that have access to the account works till 6pm only on this chat window

They are offline at the moment

GD: What does “xxxx–xxxxxxxxx” mean?

AH: They are separate entity.

[ network name ] helps them with the network coverage only

Your account is a partner account please

Is it possible to connect during opening hours between 9am to 6pm?

GD: Yes I can do that.

AH: Thank you so much. Truly appreciate your patience.

[  next day ]

GD: Hello – could I talk to a person please?

Webchat: I’m here to help you 24/7! What do you need help with today?

By the way, here’s just a few things I can help with.

  • Help with my upgrade
  • Question about billing
  • Device support
  • My Account

GD: My Account

Webchat: Here’s what I can help with!

  • I can’t login to my account
  • I’m leaving [ network name ]
  • Change my password
  • Manage my data allowance

GD: I want to change my Direct Debit details

Webchat: You can change your direct debit online, simply log in or register to manage your Direct Debit online. Make sure you have your sort code and account number to hand, and that you have an account which allows Direct Debits. After logging in, follow these steps:

 

  1. Choose Billing from the menu on the left.
  2. Choose Payment methods and click on the Change Direct Debit button.

We’ll send you a confirmation message once the change is complete, but please keep an eye out to make sure the payment comes out as expected. If you’re a business customer, please get in touch with your account manager.Want to change the date of your Direct Debit?  Click here for help with that

GD: It’s not working I’ve tried it – it gives me a technical error.

Webchat: I’m so sorry, I must have misunderstood your question! Can you please try rephrasing and I’ll do my best to answer.

GD: It doesn’t work.

Webchat: I’m so sorry, I must have misunderstood your question! Can you please try rephrasing and I’ll do my best to answer.

GD: Can I speak to a human please?

Webchat: Could you tell me your full name please?

GD: Gareth Dunlop

Webchat: To help save you some time when speaking to an adviser, I’ll complete some quick security checks with you first.

For this security check, I’ll need to take your phone number to send you a security code by text. I’ll launch a secure pop–up for you to enter your number now.

[ waits for security code by text ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

[ waits ]

Webchat: Hi my name is xxxx. I am [ network name ] virtual agent. I’m the quickest way to get answers to many problems, and if I can’t help I’ll connect you to the best person quickly. Can you tell me in a few words how I can help?

I’m sorry that our chat today has been frustrating. Would you like me to hand you over to an adviser?

  • Yes
  • No

[ still waiting ]

I went to a different part of the portal, requested a PAC code, went to another network and ordered a SIM.  The SIM arrived the following day and the day after that I was a member of a new network

Meanwhile, 50 miles behind enemy lines, middle managers in that network are using dry data in presentations to senior managers about churn and trying to work out how to reduce it. And while they all sup cappuccinos in comfortable board rooms watching presentations with pie charts and bar graphs, their customers – you know those human beings who are paying their salaries and who have choice in an open marketplace – are voting with their feet.

The reintroduction of the human into human–centred design can’t come quickly enough.

By Gareth Dunlop

Gareth formed Fathom in 2011 and has been in the business of design performance for over two decades.

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