One of New Zealand’s biggest internet service providers had an outage the other day. Big-time. Their answer? They posted a message on their website.
You know – the internet’s broken, so to tell people they put a notice on the internet.
My own dealings with that company were so bad – so execrably awful – that I won’t ever deal with them again, not ever – not even after the universe has expired of heat death. When the ISP I was using was taken over by that company, I found another ISP. Fast.
But I wonder. Customers judge companies by the front-end experience. Throwing robots and overseas call-centres into a mix of endless wait times, to me, says these companies consider their life-blood – the customer – as an expendable and worthless nuisance. But it’s pretty much par for the course these days.
That’s certainly true of the company whose phone services I ditched a few months back. They were the most complained about company in New Zealand in 2015. Their answer to customer service is to hire robots, starting with a recording and word-recognition system which you can’t get through if you use the wrong word (certain Anglo Saxon ones especially). If you want to talk to a human (all of whom speak curiously idiosyncratic English and are manifestly not in New Zealand) you have to wait hours.
Oh, they’ll put you in a queue to talk to a human and ring you back if you push the right buttons. But that, alas, isn’t the answer. I tried that once. Some hours after their advertised time, my phone went. Was it the promised human, ringing me back? Noooooo. It was another robot.
I let it go to the answer machine and let the two robots duke it out, unimpeded.
Then I found out I was going to have to pay an extra month’s rental as penalty to get them to relinquish the service. I did, just to get rid of them, but it’s something the Commerce Commission has since considered dubious. Obviously my custom meant nothing to them.
There was a report the other day that one of their customers spent three days trying to get through their robots, call centres, call-backs and the rest, after his internet broke. In the end he took out a newspaper advertisement inviting them to contact him. The fault was fixed in 15 minutes.
Still, it could be worse. The ISP I went to were great. You could get through to humans first off, they were helpful, and they did everything.
There was just one tiny problem. Their system was inept. Chokingly so. They lost track of the package deal I was on and began auto-billing me at the default single-purchase rates.
To their credit, when I tackled them about it they were up front. They happily credited me the over-charge and said it was an issue with their IT systems. Alas, they hadn’t been able to track down the problem and couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again.
Full marks for honesty, and I have no complaints on that score. Their connection is faster than the one I ditched. It’s all good. But what sort of company can run for long when its IT system is out of control and nobody knows why?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015