Customer Service Stories : Villain...Wireless Provider With No Response
Most people speak with agents in contact centers. Whenever you call your bank, insurance company, mortgage lender, retail catalog company, etc., you are most likely going to be connected with a contact center agent. Most people dread calling because they feel that they're going to speak with an uneducated agent, someone who transfers them continuously or is rude and unhelpful. I had this exact experience with a wireless provider.
Because I have an office in Europe, I needed to activate international calling on my cellular phone. Seems simple enough, but I soon found out it wasn't going to be an easy task. I proceeded to call customer service and then was told that the service was turned on and working properly. The catch is that it didn't work. I called back seven more times and got the same response. Not one of the eight customer service representatives tried to help me resolve my problem.
I basically kept getting told that the service was working, when in reality I still didn't have any international calling service. Finally, on my ninth call, I ended up getting a gentleman in Portland who took the time to get a technical expert on the phone to get to the bottom of my problem. It took nine calls to get an agent who was well-trained and knowledgeable enough to help me.
This wireless provider almost lost my business because of the incident. I was looking to spend more money with them, but if it wasn't for the customer service agent in Portland who finally helped me, I would have taken my business elsewhere. Unfortunately, for many people this is a common experience. The problem is that while most agents really want to succeed and are very capable of doing so, contact centers struggle to provide the level of training and coaching necessary to help agents succeed, as well as suffer from high turnover rates.
With increasingly dynamic environments and the rapid adoption of new technologies, contact centers need to provide customer service agents with more training in more areas than ever before: soft skills, e-mail writing, new applications, etc. In my example, the agent in Portland knew that he couldn't fix the problem and had the information, training and resources he needed to understand that it was time to get a technician involved to help solve my issue. This is a case where better quality monitoring and coaching could have helped a company do a better job at retaining a valuable customer that they almost lost, while also reducing their call volume by eight calls alone.
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Published: Monday, July 7, 2003
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