The Offline Swear Jar

Our journey commenced on March 5th and was completed on April 24th – installing internet for our new office. That’s a massive 45 days. The Telco guaranteed this process would take no more than 10 days. Even the mention of 10 days at the beginning of our mission sent me into a wobble but I reassured myself – they do this all the time – right? We’re not the first small business to have the internet connected. It may sound simple but alas, the journey was long, frustrating, time-consuming and the swear jar took a pounding.

The 18 phone calls made took me around the world, never chatting to the same person twice. Repeating and identifying myself EVERY phone call nearly gave me RSI from holding my phone (note to self: must invest in headphones). The customer service people did not always “speak my language” – not clearly anyway.

Staff productivity was impacted – we are a small business who relies heavily on the internet. The Interpreters are big fans of the net. We can handle a few seconds of the “spinning rainbow of death” while a page loads, but any longer and frustrations sets in.

While tapping into our local banks free Wifi, I was able to Google and see how others went with their internet installation. It wasn’t a pleasant read. So many dissatisfied people who were promised the world (or at least a connection date) and left hanging. With quotes like “Worst Telecom company I have dealt with” or “An atrocious waste of time – waiting for paint to dry actually would be faster”, I knew I was not alone.

What was I expecting on my journey, apart from internet installation? Basically, great customer service and transparency. Great customer service should focus on treating customers well, answering questions and exceeding their expectations. Customer service provides value to its customers and helps build strong relationships. Mastering this means businesses will retain customers and keeps them loyal. And there’s the big bonus – hopefully attracting new customers. Good customer service means meeting expectations – but excellent customer service means exceeding them.

For me, transparency means honest communication which builds trust. Keeping in mind it takes anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expense to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. And 64% of people find the customer service experience more important than price – It’s a crowded marketplace out there, you need to step up.

My contacts were purely a voice at the other end of the phone. I wanted honest answers from them, not to be handballed from department to department, each blaming the previous “voice”.

What have I taken away from this experience: it’s very difficult to trust a company that makes promises but can’t back this up with action.  If you stuff up, at least be honest. Don’t say ‘yes’ when you keep delivering ‘no’.  The emotional experience a customer has during an interaction with a company has lasting implications.

Unfortunately, our internet is moving as slow as a geriatric snail. I’m about to pick up my phone and speak to another “voice”.  It’s now 167 days on and we still don’t have full speed internet.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but my swear jar is.


By Kellie Jones

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