Big corporations spend a lot of money marketing their products.But once you are a customer , their support systems are rather pathetic.The perfect example could be of the big network operators in India like Airtel and Vodafone who are often found guilty of providing pathetic customer service.
#AirtelSucks is a very famous hash tag used in the twitter space where in users rant about the poor customer service. This is not a good news for the business.
If we are to analyze the reasons for this poor customer service, in most cases the main culprit can be any one of the two mentioned below:
1.Incompetent Customer Care
This is pretty straight forward.Network operators in many cases outsource the customer care service to agencies who do not have the required skill set to understand customer issues and provide response based on the problem.
Most of the time,the response is not sincere and provide a robotic ‘we are sorry’ at every possible instance.
2.Badly designed IT systems.
This is where bulk of the problem lies in my experience.When you call up the customer care service , there is an application that is being used by them to provide required data or make complaints. If this application is efficient in terms of good features,relevance and performance,there will be a great deal of time and effort reduced on both the customer and customer service team as well.
Recurring issues with IT Systems
- Availability – Application will not be up and running 24X7 and as a customer you will be asked to call back once the application is up and running.
- Call History – No proper ways of maintaining recent interactions and no proper update available to recent interactions thus making way for discussing the whole issue again and again.
- Payment Gateway – Many instances of payment gateway not available during the last few days of payment resulting in customer paying late fee
I will explain few more based on my recent interactions with my service provider ,Vodafone.
As you read through , it will be evident that had there been better systems at place,these issues could have been sorted out quickly.
1.Same issue,multiple different responses
I had a 3G network issue with Vodafone in my office. I mailed the customer care team about this.Nowadays I prefer mailing them since calls are not effective and concerns not recorded properly.After my mail,the team called me and informed that there is an issue with 3G network coverage in my area and they are working towards the solution to fix it as soon as possible.They also informed that a lot of other customers as well are facing the same problem.
So I vented my frustration on Twitter as to how I cannot use 3G at my office in which I spend maximum time every day. It was picked up by Vodafone social media team.After having received my number through Direct Message in Twitter,they did not check my profile to see if I have made any complaints already.They blindly call me up and got the whole information once again that i sent in mail. Again there was another problem record created for this.Next day i got a call to see if I can arrange for allowing the network team to visit the office premise and check the network issue. This is quite weird when i already got a response that the network team is looking towards improving the infrastructure.
And the same problem surfaced once again when i called up customer care for some other query.The executive before ending the call asked if I had any other problem with the service. I told them about the problem once again to see if I’m getting a response that the network team is looking into it.But on contrary, the team again went into investigation getting all the details and came up with an entirely different response.
So basically for a single network issue , because of poor IT systems designed and integrated not properly, the customer care service spent so much of time trying to figure out a response for the issue.
This explains the need for smart IT system that can group all the issues related to an area,keep my complaint either open or update the status of my complaint properly in the system. This could have solved the problem and saved so many hours of our valuable time.
Process Based Solution
It is not that difficult to define it as a process. This is simply Business Process Management
- Record an incident with number if a user reports an issue and keep it open until the problem is fixed. In case of network coverage issue , it will take a lot of time. Hence let the incident record be kept on.
- For every customer reporting the same issue , create a problem record and link it to the incident record. This will easily give the magnitude/impact of the issue as to how many users have reported the same issue. Use the main incident record to update users on the status.
This way it is easier to manage the customers.
2.Sending incorrect alerts for services
Vodafone used to send alerts about 3G data usage once the limit is crossed. But recently a few months back, the tariff was changed.This recent change seems to be not properly reflected in all their systems mostly in the back end.As a result of this,sms alerts were sent everyday that the data usage has exceeded based on my earlier data plan. I used a mobile app to track my data usage and so I was sure there was a problem with sms.
But for people who are not aware about such application may not use the data further assuming they have exhausted their data or in some cases would raise a concern and get it clarified with the customer care.
Ideally this change is tariff plan should have been designed in such a way so that the application that sends alerts can get the dynamic pricing updates based on the changes to tariff and work flawlessly without any change required. But that is not the case here.It is now more than 4 months now and still im still incorrect alerts about data plan.
These alerts are totally confusing – you cannot ignore them.You may be under the impression that the alerts are sent incorrectly but the team could have fixed the problem and you are really exceeding the limits.So you have to be really cautious about such alerts when all that is required is for the system to be designed in a way that can automatically send updates without any change to the system.
These are two examples that I have witnessed in the recent past that made me think about the importance of IT to companies. An efficient system in place could have easily saved many hours of work.
We are in a world where in we have to wait for several minutes before being attended by the customer care. Building an efficient application that works flawlessly and is capable of adopting to any new changes with greater deal of flexibility will go a long way in making customers really happy.
But sadly, the importance and budgets given to IT and infrastructure are often paltry. What is the use of spending a lot of money to gain new customers when you cannot satisfy your customers and retain them with the service.
Food for thought?