Blog : BOARD TALK
|Posted on November 28, 2015 at 6:45 PM|
When did telecom companies delivering technology services stop focusing on the customer service element of their offering? Perhaps when we all became so desperate for the latest way to be 'connected' that they saw their opportunity to make a killing.
At any rate, as customers in the UK, we now seem to be in a bad place. We are expected to tbe DIY recipients of what they throw at us, grabbing at the latest offers (new customers only), neglected if loyal, unable to get hold of anyone to explain how things are meant to fit together to work - AND lambasted all the while with a flood of marketing and advertising geared to making us buy more.
I have been a BT customer for a very long time - going back to ISDN and dial-up, among the first on to broadband and then Infinity. I am also lucky enough to be fairly good at IT. So, when problems have arisen, in the end I am the one who has usually sorted them, sometimes with IT help but only after many wasted calls until suddenly coming across a clued-up individual. Now the situation is far, far worse.
The regulator Ofcom is conducting a once-in-a-decade-review of the communications market. As part of that, it is looking at a potential separation of BT's Openreach division, which has provoked a backlash, and doubtless much lobbying. BT has also been slapped on the wrist for governance failures.
And there's that line about rats and sinking ships...
The CEO of Openreach, Joe Garner, who joined less than two years ago, has just found an offer to move to be CEO of building society Nationwide "too good to resist." He will leave in the spring, just after Ofcom is due to publish its proposals.
I think all these factors are playing even more havoc with BT's regard for the customer than normal. In order to grow and grow and hit its self-imposed targets, it seems to be advertising on a grander scale than ever before - witness ads with Ewan Mcgregor,
But is it looking at what it provides customers as a service ? I think not: despite being a long time customer I had to demand a new BT hub- after endlessly being put on hold and given the run around -when the service failed to live up to expectations.
I was recently sent a form letter via the POSTAL service (yes, really) telling me that "as requested" my broadband would be cut off on a certain day - on a number that does not exist which has been disconnected for years, unless I called to ensure otherwise. And I am sure you all know what happens when you try to get through to BT.
The reason that number was disconnected, by the way, is that I sudenly realised BT was making me pay for two landlines: one for the internet, and one for calls. I enquired further and found they could be merged into one number, not that BT intended to tell me that.
The onus for fixing things - ie getting a service I pay for to actually work and do what it says in all those ads - has been on me. The recent letter about disconnection was clearly computer-generated and I am guessing is a likely result of outsourcing bits of the business, but not letting them talk to one another.
The same is true of the very heavy social media presence - a form of marketing only, @BTCare. All these people seem to be employed to do the same thing: direct the consumer to self-help on a website or send them to a chat room which does the same thing. Where are the engineers and IT technicians who can help ?
Well, a lot of them are in India but (I am guessing) they are hired to work at night. So my advice to you is seek help after 9pm.
And today's factor for finally writing this blog? A bit of upgrading at home that has required some complicated IT on my part, changing DNS settings on routers and so on - and also what should have been straightforward: installing My BT and YouView, which arrived more than 10 days ago.
Could I get my YouView remote to connect to my Panasonic TV? I could not. Could I get BT to pay attention? I could note. I am quite determined - so I tried again, and again, and again - rebooting machines, removing batteries, the works. I wasted a lot of time, which is very precious.
After much frustration, it was suggested by someone in a call centre in India thatthe remote was faulty. I was sent a duplicate. The next time I called, it was suggested that I may just have to make do with using my Panasonic remote for some of the tasks. WHAT ?
And then today, dear reader, I Googled the problem. Please, do - have a read of the link: it's a classic.
And yes, thank you JezCaine - it works !
There is far more wisdom in the crowd than there is in our businesses, it seems. What we need to do is find a way to make them acknowledge it in the respect they give us as customers.
I hope Ofcom has thought about that in giving them yet more power.