How NOT to ask for customer feedback: a shocking example from Sky TV


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Having been involved in the world of Customer Experience for many years, nothing should really surprise me – I have very much witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly of business behaviour. However (there is usually one of those in my posts!!), every now and then, something happens to me or someone in my network that doesn’t just surprise…. it shocks. It never gives me any pleasure to write about these things, yet I do in the hope that the organisations concerned (and others) learn from the experiences I share. I very much hope that senior leaders from Sky (British satellite broadcasting, on-demand internet streaming media, broadband and telephone services company) read this blog!

Two days ago, my wife was asked to participate in a Sky customer feedback survey. We have actually been customers of Sky for over 15 years – one would think that makes us ‘valuable’ customers. We pay a significant amount of money on a monthly basis for a variety of TV channels. Whilst one would think we are ‘valuable’ customers, we have not been ‘satisfied’ customers for a while. Not only is Sky’s offering not particularly good value for money, our Sky ‘box’ regularly fails. In all honesty, we should have cancelled our contract a while ago, but have just not got around to it.

So, let me get back to the story of the survey request. Feeling ‘unsatisfied’, unusually for Naomi, she decided to ‘give them a piece of her mind’ by completing the survey. Naomi proceeded to start the survey only for the following message to be returned:


Shocker!! There are no other words to describe one of the most appalling customer communications I have EVER seen. As a contact of mine said, ‘that is so classic, it deserves to be on Sky Movies Classics :-)’!

There is no doubting the ineptitude of this – I cannot even imagine an executive from Sky attempting to defend it. Yet what this communication highlights to me is a blatant disregard for the customer – do Sky really care about me….. I suggest that they do not.

Sadly, I am not alone. Just researching Sky on the web highlights a plethora of issues being experienced by many of their customers. One of my valued network of Customer Experience Professionals is enduring an even worse experience with Sky at the moment. They have very kindly allowed me to share with you the letter of complaint they sent to Sky’s CEO, Jeremy Darroch – brace yourselves for an uncomfortable read…

Dear Mr Darroch

Firstly apologies for coming to you directly but I hope you can point me in the right direction to get this resolved. I have researched the internet for the email address of the various “Heads of” and Directors of your Customer Service function but to no avail. There is also no email address for a complaint.

 By way of background, I recently had SkyQ installed and the two engineers who came round were simply outstanding. The sales agent who booked the installation hadn’t taken down the right information so the job was more complex and difficult than anticipated and, for a moment, I was concerned it simply wasn’t going to be able to work for us. However, the two chaps were immediately into solution mode and really were extraordinary in the level of service provided. Bizarrely I didn’t receive a survey or I would have taken the opportunity to rave about the experience.

An ongoing issue we have relates to poor broadband speed (one of the prices you pay for rural living) so we explained to the engineers we were shortly going to be changing the broadband provider from Sky to a company called Gigabeam who a more unconventional technology to resolve the traditional issues. Knowing this, one of the engineers stayed back to walk us through what we would need to do when we moved from the Sky broadband. All seemed simple.

Rather inevitably, it wasn’t that easy. The main box was OK but the mini boxes were then unable to find the main box so we have now been without SkyQ in our other two rooms. I called the contact centre the weekend before last and was less than happy with the service. All in, after an hour and 25 minutes, I was still no further forward (other than sorting a Sky technical issue which was preventing us accessing catch up TV). We were given some actions to do with regard to the mini boxes and we specifically asked the agent to stay on the line whilst we did what had been asked to make sure it worked. He wasn’t keen at all and suggested he called back which we refused. In the midst of trying to do our various “actions” he put the phone down. We tried calling back on a different line (in case he did try to call back) but after a long wait we had to call it a day as we had other things to do. There was no call back.

The following week I completed your online survey and gave the experience 0/10. As someone who heads up a customer experience function, I assumed an alert would go out to a Manager and someone would call me this time so I could sort things out. No such call was forthcoming.

I then tried again on Saturday and spoke to a chap called Stuart (I think). I started the call by wishing to make a formal complaint and through a rather fraught conversation my understanding of what happened is as follows:

  • You can’t log a complaint in a traditional way. All dissatisfaction is managed as a one and done.
  • Through a rather difficult conversation, I realised he was trying to resolve my issue on the phone which was not what I wanted at all. I wanted a proper investigation. This doesn’t seem to be possible / or is at a manager’s discretion.
  • As I wasn’t happy apparently the next step is a manager escalation. I asked for that but they weren’t available to come to the phone.
  • You apparently don’t respond to survey feedback anymore as the team who dealt with this work no longer exists
  • There is an element of manager discretion at responding to survey feedback but there is a two week delay in getting the information over to the relevant person.
  • Stuart seemed to think I wanted to know what would happen to the agent following my feedback…that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I simply wanted to understand how the feedback process works and why ask customers for feedback if it isn’t acted upon.
  • He then said the issue I was experiencing needed an engineer….why was this not identified the previous week?
  • He spent most of the call explaining what he couldn’t do. When I pointed this out he became rather defensive.
  • I asked for one of the previous engineers; both said they could be happy to come back if there was an issue. As mentioned above, our property isn’t “standard” for want of a better way of putting it so I wanted to make sure I got someone who could easily fix the issue. This was apparently not possible.
  • I pointed out the excessive time I had been on my mobile trying to sort all this with no call backs…I was offered £5…any more I would need to provide evidence.
  • I was promised another call back which never happened…..
  • On a positive note, I was put through to a very helpful lady called Mary who dealt with my broadband cancellation. She was excellent and really turned round what had been a dismal experience.

 I do have an engineer coming in on Saturday so I am hoping I can get the minibox issue sorted out then. However, I am still bemused as to what is happening (or not) with my complaint. I am fairly certain the process as I understand it to be isn’t correct but thought you would like to know how it is coming across to a customer.

Very much look forward to hearing from you.

Really rather unnerving stuff. Having read it, you will probably not be desperately searching for your credit card to give Sky some of your hard earned cash! Yet it gets even worse – my contact received the following letter from Sky today – much in line with the ‘botched’ survey communication, Sky once again highlight the fact that they do not really mean what they say:


I am running out of diminutives! In 2015, I conducted some research into what makes the worlds number 1 Customer Experience brands – the number 1 characteristic coming out of my research, thus defining the most customer centric companies, was ‘corporate attitude’. In other words, we as consumers know when a brand cares about us…. and when they do not. Sky did not feature in the results of my research… unsurprisingly.

Sky, like any other organisation in the world, relies on the feedback of its customers to know what works and what does not work in the customer journey. Taking feedback for granted, or failing to listen and act on it is foolish…. and could ultimately be fatal. As a result of Sky’s actions, I will now finally carry out the act I should have years ago – one of my first acts of 2017 will be to end my 15 plus year association with the company that does not really value my custom.

Will they care? Who knows!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.


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