Customer Service Stories : Villain… Gas Utility
When a gas company needs to upgrade their products in your home, I would assume it's a reluctant process on their part. Besides the physical upgrade (whether that involves fixing or replacing) there's also the hassle of having to book appointments to get into people's homes.
The standard appointment setting method normally involves a three to four hour window of opportunity. This is bearable when you are waiting for the delivery of your large screen TV, but frustrating when the appointment is something you didn't even want or request in the first place.
The easiest time frame for the customer is an evening appointment but this complicates matters for the gas company as they will probably find a majority of their customers looking for the same thing.
Calls to re-book find me talking to an overly honest agent who tells me that the company's policy is to cancel all evening appointments, thus forcing people book a day-time appointment to ensure their service workers are busy during the 9-to-5 hours – leaving them free for emergencies only.
If this is the case why would they let me book an evening appointment in the first place? The gas company expects me take time off work and lose up to four hours of pay so they can arrange for the work to be done under their terms. What if they cancel on me next time when I've taken time off work? Due to just one cancellation, my faith in them has been is greatly reduced.
To assist in the process, I agree to allow the company to complete the work in my absence during the day, but am told that I will need to contact the service department to fire up all my appliances when I get home at 5pm. This worries me but I am assured that a service rep would be on site within an hour to complete the job. Three hours later I call back and I'm told that it may be another day for them to come back out (expecting me to take time off work… again). Well, that's just not acceptable. No heating, no cooking appliances, no hot water – I don't think so. My next step was to make an emergency call and I was surprised to find someone at my door within 15 minutes. Now that's service! He lets it slip that he's been at home watching TV for the past three hours and this was his first evening call. Mmm… interesting.
To be honest, the conversations with most of the agents were friendly enough but I was given different information from most of the agents I spoke to. Considering how much I pay for their service throughout the year, I would expect a better level of service from them. I guess with no real competition for their services in the area, improving customer services isn't a top priority.
Today's Tip of the Day - Customer Contact Points
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Published: Friday, April 22, 2005