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I am the "IBM Collaboration & Productivity Advisor" for IBM Asia Pacific. I'm based in Singapore.
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Customer Disservice

What is the last thing you want to hear when calling the customer service? "Sorry sir, but I will not help you!". Happened to me just now, here is my story:
I pay big bucks to SingTel every month for Broadband, Phone and Blackberry service. Especially the data roaming service is a huge item on my phone bill. In their own words SingTel describe themselves as world class telecom company. Seems that self perception doesn't reach to their customer service hotline (and I'm not talking about their recent refusal to reveal how to configure a SIP phone to use the Mio phone service). 2 days ago I got new SIM cards for my blackberry and my phone. The friendly sales guy told me, just to wait until the old card stops working and to swap them then. So far so good. When I swapped the Blackberry card (at the airport in Frankfurt on my way to Cambridge/MA) everything seemed to work fine. The usual swash of emails populates my inbox and SWMBO gets duly informed via SMS that the flight was all enventless. The trouble starts when I reply to a message. Message status is "Service blocked" instead of "Sent". Very nice, failing communication technology is very suitable to send the average traveller into distress. Also standing in the middle of an airport cuts you off from the usual selfhelp. Luckily foreign telecoms have the (apparently not so) annoying habit of sending a welcome SMS (to remind you whom your provider is now teaming up to rip you off) that states the numbers you can dial for mailbox and helpdesk. So I called the SingTel helpline. The gentleman told me, that he won't help me. To be fair: he said that he can't help me, but for a traveller in distress that amounts to the same result. I would need to call the Blackberry helpdesk (which is actually not in charge for corporate Blackberry) and that is all he could do. I feel a little sorry, because I expressed my dissatisfaction with the help provided in very clear words. He tried his best in the constraints of his possibilities. What is broken is SingTel's customer service.
I don't care what product segmentation or specialization SingTel has internally. I'm one customer, I get one bill and I expect one service. Asking a customer to write down a number and call that one is a joke. Bad Service. A few bullet points how that could be fixed:
  • Put a voice hell menu at the central service number, so customers can select what service they need. Keep the direct lines. So if one is clueless like me, the central number will read the options, while the expert help seeker can benefit from direct access.
  • Equip your helpdesk operators with a decent integrated telephony system, so they can say: "Sorry, you need someone else to help you, do you want the number or should I put you through?"
  • Let the customer know that the problem has been recognized (read back the problem description, pull the other questions out of your CRM) and offer a call back by the respective expert. This way you can put the solution into a task queue improving the utilization of your help staff
  • Offer (self)help and help requests via SMS. You know your customers, so you know who did send the message. A lot of issues can be fixed without a direct 2 way conversation. And hey SMS is a money printer
Unfortunately the alternative doesn't look very attractive either.
I send one SMS to SWMBO and she fixed it for me. Took the right guy less then 30 sec. SWMBO is the best.


Gravatar Image1 - That's why I stick to M1 for mobile, cust svc is top class (as good as it gets in S'pore, at least). Rumour has it that the person who revolutionised M1's entire cust svc experience was an ex-Starbucks trainer :)


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