Cus­tomer dis­ser­vice

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION -

his call may be mon­i­tored for qual­ity con­trol pur­poses.”

It’s a com­mon, au­to­mated record­ing that cus­tomers of­ten hear as they are trans­ferred (fi­nally) to a live per­son at a tele­com call cen­tre. Cus­tomers feel some­what re­as­sured that the em­ployee will be help­ful since that worker’s re­sponses are be­ing recorded and re­viewed by su­per­vi­sors.

But, in­stead of be­ing as­sessed on the de­gree of help­ful­ness to cus­tomers, the em­ployee is of­ten re­viewed on the de­gree of re­source­ful­ness in stalling and stonewalling — dis­turb­ing pre­req­ui­sites for tele­com call cen­tre work­ers.

Most call cen­tre em­ploy­ees are help­ful and do the best they can; and the com­pa­nies that hire them are re­ally con­cerned about cus­tomer ser­vice. But ap­par­ently, not so much at tele­com call cen­tres, es­pe­cially those en­gaged by Bell, Rogers or Telus — the three sin­gled out in a damn­ing Go Pub­lic in­ves­tiga­tive seg­ment re­cently aired by the CBC.

Hun­dreds of cur­rent and former tele­com work­ers have gone pub­lic with claims of mis­lead­ing and un­eth­i­cal sales prac­tices. Those al­le­ga­tions prompted the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (CRTC) to or­der a pub­lic hear­ing on the sales prac­tices of tele­coms, which was set to get un­der­way Mon­day, Oct. 22. It’s part of an in­quiry or­dered by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment as a re­sult of those nu­mer­ous com­plaints.

Many At­lantic Cana­dian tele­vi­sion, tele­phone and in­ter­net cus­tomers are nod­ding in agree­ment. It’s about time.

As de­tailed by Go Pub­lic, most tele­com sales reps earn points to­wards com­mis­sion for ev­ery prod­uct and ser­vice they sell and lose points ev­ery time they can­cel or re­duce a cus­tomer’s ser­vice.

So, em­ploy­ees are en­cour­aged to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to de­lay the down­grade and frus­trate a cus­tomer.

In de­spair, many cus­tomers re­luc­tantly pay up and keep ser­vices they don’t need. In­ex­orably, monthly fees go up and chang­ing bun­dles is next to im­pos­si­ble. Only as a last re­sort, when an­gry threats are made to can­cel out­right or switch to a com­peti­tor, does the cus­tomer fi­nally re­ceive ser­vice.

When will these big tele­com com­pa­nies clue in that you can only push cus­tomers so far and any lin­ger­ing loy­alty is go­ing out the door and not com­ing back. Tele­coms are their own worst en­emy. They pre­sume that Cana­di­ans will con­tinue to ac­cept get­ting ripped off and ask for more.

An An­gus Reid poll re­leased Oct. 18 sug­gests other­wise. It found that mil­len­ni­als in Canada are in­creas­ingly will­ing to opt out of tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion and phone serve for on­line stream­ing. Many have no need of land­lines; and oth­ers are can­celling cable or satel­lite as too ex­pen­sive. Tele­coms should be of­fer­ing bun­dles that are cheaper and more flex­i­ble to keep cus­tomers and at­tract new ones — not driv­ing them away in droves. In­cred­i­bly, many don’t seem to care.

At­lantic Cana­di­ans have a long list of tele­com hor­ror sto­ries to tell and now is their chance. Don’t waste it. Pass them along to the CRTC and let’s hope that sub­stan­tive changes might fi­nally come.

Oh, yes. This ed­i­to­rial may be mon­i­tored by Bell, Rogers and Telus for ex­ces­sive crit­i­cism pur­poses.

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