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Is Customer Service a Luxury?

by Marquette Turner Luxury Homes

in Features, Luxury is...

It’s been a fascinating couple of days in dealing with customer service (or lack of it) from Telstra and TPG. I can’t help but feel that Australian businesses are costing themselves millions of dollars each year by outsourcing their “customer service” and call centres to overseas based companies. Have you experienced a call centre nightmare?

The first problem that exists is the language barrier and the second is the complete lack of authority to make decisions that call centres have. The basic requirement for any “customer service” division is to actually be able to assist customers and make dealing with a company a pleasurable and easy experience.

Not understanding customers due a language barrier is clearly not ideal and nor is transferring a call four times to a different department as no one has the authority to assist with a problem. As a Telco customer I do not call the “customer service” people unless I absolutely have to. It isn’t fun, is generally hard work and almost always leaves me feeling less than satisfied.

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I have discussed this problem with people in the past and have heard comments that questioning the purpose of a call centre based overseas is racist. I personally don’t care where a call centre is based so long as the people there can speak my language, understand me and make decisions which will assist me. If they cannot do these basic things then the call centre is a waste of time and is probably upsetting more customers than it assists.

It seems that “customer service” has become a Luxury. It would appear that companies have made the decisions that upsetting and frustrating people is not a problem and to lose a percentage of their customer base by providing substandard service is ok.

I’m a huge supporter of businesses reducing costs and being more competitive so long as they maintain or improve upon their customer service. This concept has clearly escaped many companies who are run by “number crunchers” disconnected from reality. Numbers tell only part of the story and do not measure the frustration and angst caused by the total lack of true “customer service”.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Miller October 12, 2009 at 10:49 am

Michael–

Hey, you're right about one thing–if the agents aren't empowered to help the customer, then that call center will not be helpful, no matter where it's located. I believe the issue is less with the location of the call center and more to do with the culture of the organization. When an organization rewards excellent service in its employees and gives substantial benefits because of it, service is better. When an organization empowers its employees to solve customer issues, service is better. When an organization focuses on one-call resolution instead of on the length of that call, service is better.

Thanks for a thought-provoking article.

Michael Marquette October 13, 2009 at 2:23 am

Hi Heidi

You are spot on. A little update on Telstra – the problem we had has been escalated to their “complaints” division and they were supposed to have called yesterday, and then today. They haven't bothered to call at all and so the frustration goes on. Our TPG system has come online and so far so good but it has made me think – how much money do they spend on attracting new clients? How much are they spending on keeping their existing customers? The massive amounts of money being spent on attracting new customers is crazy when they lose customers through non-existent customer service. This is an issue that Shareholders should be furious over.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the article. I look forward to speaking to you soon. As a former customer I know I am furious.

Michael

Michael Marquette October 13, 2009 at 9:23 am

Hi Heidi

You are spot on. A little update on Telstra – the problem we had has been escalated to their “complaints” division and they were supposed to have called yesterday, and then today. They haven't bothered to call at all and so the frustration goes on. Our TPG system has come online and so far so good but it has made me think – how much money do they spend on attracting new clients? How much are they spending on keeping their existing customers? The massive amounts of money being spent on attracting new customers is crazy when they lose customers through non-existent customer service. This is an issue that Shareholders should be furious over.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the article. I look forward to speaking to you soon. As a former customer I know I am furious.

Michael

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