Friday, May 25, 2007

Normal Service Resumed

OK, I'm back on broadband. The engineer came today and sorted the problem - after replacing the modem and internal cabling, the fault was traced to an external cable connector. All relatively straightforward. If only getting an engineer round hadn't been so bloody traumatic! After several fruitless phone calls and e-mails, I finally decided enough was enough, and yesterday spent nearly an hour on the phone to my cable provider's customer service line and eventually got a half-promise that an engineer might be available in my area on Friday. Now, the lady I spoke to who managed to arrange this for me was incredibly professional, from the outset she did what none of the people I had previously spoken to had - she established my name and account number. Something that simple makes a huge difference - it at least gives the impression that someone is actually interested in your problem. Furthermore, if somebody actually appears to be trying to resolve he issue, even if they are unsuccessful, the customer at least feels that somebody has made an attempt to help them. Ntl-Telewest Ltd T/A Virgin Media, please take note.

However, to get to this lady, I had to run the gamut of various other operatives, the first of whom appeared to be some kind of company zealot. His role seemed to be to defend the company and convince me that I was wrong and being unreasonable. All the time, he kept telling me how unfair I was being and saying that me not being able to drop everything at work and be in all day for an engineer to call on Thursday was 'a missed opportunity'. In other words, it was my all my own fault. It really was like having some religious nut trying to brainwash you into joining their cult. He also told me that I couldn't expect customer services to arrange an engineer to come sooner than next week if I'd already been told by the broadband 'help' line that one wasn't available. I simply responded that he'd better put me through to someone who could in that case, as I had no intention of letting the matter drop. He then petulantly put me through to what he claimed was the 'engineers' department'. I found myself talking to the installations department, who obviously couldn't help me. I was then put through to help desk in India which dealt with analogue TV problems. Again, no help at all. At this point I rang off, redialled and was kept in a queue for several minutes before finally being put through to the extremely helpful lady with proper customer service skills, who was actually able to sort my problem out.

So, my advice to anyone out there experiencing similar problems, whether with cable providers or other service industries, is to stick to your guns when dealing with the call centres and refuse to back down. No matter what they say to try and convince you that you are wrong, just keep reiterating the fact that you are the customer, and that the level of service you have received is simply not acceptable. As customers I do think that we are entitled to expect a certain minimum standard of service from suppliers, not just in terms of response times for maintenance calls, but also in terms of the way in which we are treated by call centres. When dealing with somebody with the right skills and properly trained, like the lady who eventually sorted my problems, you feel much happier. However, when confronted by script-reading automatons, or pro-company zealots, I, for one, simply get extremely annoyed as I feel that the company concerned is simply taking the piss.

Anyway, having finally got my broadband back on again, posting can get back to normal. What should have been this week's posts will doubtless turn up over the days to come, and I'll start writing the next story for The Sleaze tomorrow. Having said all that, I've got some time off work and everything will undoubtedly be disrupted by other activities, such as laying laminate flooring, getting my TV antenna sorted out and generally lounging around with beer. Such is life!



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