How to really louse up customer services

Our kids have pay as you go Android phones, on T-mobile, and love them.  It was (and remains) by far the best offer … but we are starting to think there might be reasons for that; ones that would make us move even if it was more expensive.

Kat was in London with a friend for a couple of days, and realised that her phone credit was low – not (usually) a problem since we can top it up from the web.  Sadly, it appears it wasn’t possible to top-up Kat’s phone on-line – the payments interface seemed to be dead (aka payment gets authorised by 3-D secure, but then fails to complete with an unhelpful error message)

It isn’t possible to get out of the IVR on the customer services number on any option except ‘leave t-mobile’.  That included lost and stolen, which just went to a dead line

When we got through to a person on the ‘leave t-mobile’ line, the name registered to the account was not the name on the account (that I was looking at online at the time) – who knows what it was, but not anything we had ever used

It took over 20 minutes to get a supervisor who had the authority to do anything.  He said that there were issues with the IVR, implying it was design not a fault … but there is no notice on the website asking anyone to bear with t-mobile while they fix the IVR (or the payments gateway for that matter).  There is a twitter message on what to text to get internet on your phone, which seems less important!

We also tried to top up Alan’s whilst we were at it – a £10 top-up was confirmed, but didn’t happen.  And a text message trial afterwards also failed – maybe that is the payments gateway issue again, or the link to the airtime database – whatever it is, clearly no-one on the customer services line knew about it.

Issue with Kat’s phone was finally resolved after 45 mins on that call, on top of the 1-2 hours of faffing about before (that is assuming that the payment got to her airtime account that is).  End result – deeply pissed off customers … and with absolutely no reason for it at all.

It would have been so easy to get right with a little thought :-

  • Make the telephone IVR as useful as you can .. but not so that you can’t get out of it.  The customer should be the judge of what is useful and what is not
  • We careful not to optimise so far that you can’t handle unusual events … there are companies that can supply support resource only when you need it, but you have to think of it early enough
  • Use media like twitter and blogs by all means, but get the basics right first.  If you have an issue with customer service then PUT IT ON YOUR WEB SITE.  You have a chance of sympathy at least that way.  And don’t put pompous things on your web-site if you can’t even get the basics right … it is adding insult to injury
  • And, most of all, don’t assume your customers will put up with any old shit.  In the end you will loose.
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2 Responses to How to really louse up customer services

  1. James says:

    Like your rant, but I think you stole my blog theme in more ways than 1.


  2. Greg says:

    From before you started it? Would be a clever trick if I could do it! Anyway, situation drove me nuts

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