Are telcos scared of their customers?

Written by on November 12, 2014 in Opinion with 0 Comments

I think communications providers are scared of asking the right question. You know the feeling when you are a bit scared of asking a question because you think you might not get the answer you want? And maybe that answer will mean that you have to explain yourself, or get embarrassed or do a whole heap of work to put it right?

Recently two colleagues and one wife went to London to attend/speak at a conference. We travelled separately. A two bedroom serviced apartment had been booked at a price that almost matched what a London hotel should cost.

Just as I was about to set off from Scotland an email popped into my inbox. It said that the apartment manager had managed – or mis-managed – to over-book the apartment so we would have to find alternative accommodation. My colleague was already sitting outside the apartment drinking coffee. Calls were made, anger was curbed. The first alternative was rejected since it was just one bedroom and some of us just won’t sleep in the top bunk anymore.

After a few minutes a solution was found three stops away on a tube. My colleague was given keys and all was well. Well, almost well, we would have to pay in cash and it was on the first floor – which was noisy, with trucks and taxis rumbling all night long, so no sleep.

The point, apart from first floor, noisy, trucks, taxis etc was that a couple of emails arrived after the trip asking us for feedback.

Except they didn’t really.

What they asked was whether the apartment was convenient for local attractions. Well, yes, on account of it being on one the busiest, most central streets in London. And the other follow up email asked how [insert name of booking agency] dealt with the difficulty with regard to having to change apartments? Well, actually they were responsive, polite, the phone was answered quickly, can’t fault that part of it.

Yet, nowhere was there that email or phone call that asked just how annoying the fact of being moved from (what looked like) a quiet, convenient apartment into an inconvenient (two changes of tube train from the conference) and noisy one. Or whether we would use [insert name of booking agency] again.

As such, the reviews of the apartment itself remain at 7.7, on account of it being central and convenient to many tourist attractions (you can hear at least three of them) and the reputation of the booking agency remains as high as before because they handled the situation well.

So, the only way of communicating the fact that the experience was appalling was to find their website, find the contact form, formulate a witty and biting letter and frankly life became too short.

And, of course, the booking agency and the nice gentleman in the white Mercedes both think we had a super time. Just super.

Mind you, is this better or worse than my broadband provider ringing me back to ask (electronically) about my experience, before they had rung back to fix my problem. That was, at least, funny.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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