Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

Improvements to Phone Based Customer Service

I moved to a new place recently. About 6 weeks prior to moving, a request to cancel our home phone on the 20th of October was made to my phone provider, Telstra. To my surprise, my service was cancelled prematurely on September 20th, a month earlier than expected.

This initiated a stack of pain trying to get my home phone and Internet connection (from a different service provider!) back up and running. After many expensive phone calls, much parroting of the same information ad nauseum and much frustration arising from people who (a) couldn’t take any proper action or (b) just redirected to another department or person, I got my service back up and running again.

Here are some ways to improve the service to a customer:

  • Be careful with destructive operations: When a destructive operation is being made (e.g. cancellation), make certain that the operation is to go ahead and at precisely the right time. Notify the customer before doing the operation.
    • The only exception is if the operation can be undone painlessly, in which case a ‘are you sure you want to delete?’ prompt may be an annoyance.
  • Give authority to your reps: Avoid passing the buck and give some customer service reps some goddamn authority to make some decisions. Escalate appropriately!
  • Don’t make the customer have repeat themselves: I had to face the same security questions and got given the same spiel so many times. I don’t want to repeat myself. When I’m having issues, I often have to call several times and/or speak to multiple reps to resolve my issue. So, similar to how Internet cookies work, why not just give me a short-term password or passphrase? It doesn’t have to be long-term password, maybe only valid for a couple of days. I could use this password/passphrase to authenticate myself and continue where I left off. Make sure it’s easy to pronounce and easy to remember.
  • Make calls to your customer service phoneline free Enough said. Try to ensure your customer isn’t charged for their time on the phone to fix their issues (unless there’s a sound business reason behind it, of course).