On hidden executives and call-centre parrots
I needed to change my mobile connection’s plan and spent about half an hour trying to figure out if it was possible to do that online, on the service provider’s website. Finally when I found the option, it was a three-step method. That too would be okay – just that it took over a month for that three-step method to materialize.
Anyway, I followed the three-step method, post which I was supposed to get a confirmation message as well as a call from the company within a day. Neither of the two happened. This being a low-priority task slipped out of my mind too. Somewhere I believed that the request had been taken and the plan would begin from the next billing cycle.
A month went by and the same bill reached me again. I realized that both the company and I had made a mistake. They did not call to confirm and I did not call to complain. So, I decided to call the customer care on its three-digit number and experienced the ordeal of the average not-really-aware customer (for whom the executive is a madam or a sir) calling the telecom call centre.
I hope somebody from their office reads this.
Annoying Element 1
The three-digit number takes you to the interactive voice response (IVR) menu that starts with the company’s promotional recording trying to sell you an additional service. This is especially irritating for those who are calling to complain about the service. A new service is the last thing on the complainant’s mind.
Annoying Element 2
You simply cannot reach the customer care executive unless you have Googled, especially if you are an existing subscriber. I kept fiddling with all possible options in their IVR menu, but those were pre-recorded messages with no option to reach an executive. Finally, when I Googled, I realized that the best option to reach the executive was to choose the ‘I am not an existing customer’ option and then the ‘interested in subscribing’ option. That takes you to the sales executive pronto.
Annoying Element 3
Once you have found the executive and heard his mechanical greetings, you have to find the supervisor/manager. Yes, in case you do not have routine/oft-repeated questions, you will have to speak to somebody who is marginally more sensible and has some authority. The executives who generally are the first contact point are more like parrots. For example, if you ask them about exact procedure of plan change, they’ll repeat what’s already there on the website. However, if you have any additional query – as in ‘what if I do not get a call back’ – they will have no answer.
Annoying Element 4
They will never remember you or your complaint. So, if you call up for a follow-up on a complaint, you have to repeat the entire story again, whether or not you have a reference number from your previous conversation.
Companies can justify some of these issues citing various challenges. However, these may not go down well with customers. I believe any executive responsible for attending to customers’ call on behalf of a company represents the company’s attitude towards their customers. So, when I faced an apathetic executive, I realized I had made a bad choice.