Paying to Line Jump Customer Service is Wrong


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A mobile phone company in the UK EE, (Everything Everywhere) seem to be annoying their Customers every time and any time.

Here are three examples.

1. Line Jumping: reported that EE has just introduced a 50 pence  (80 cents) charge that allows callers in the customer service line to jump to the front. The invitation to take advantage of this priority service takes place in an automated message.

Why this fails customers:  These are bad profits. By making money out of a poor experience, they are essentially charging the customer to have better service. As one customer complained in the article, “It makes you think that perhaps they might not be trying too hard to answer the non-prioritized calls.”

This sends a signal to Customers is we want to make money out of our poor experience. The danger is this further increases the length of ‘standard’ calls and perpetuates feelings of disappointment and frustration, two emotions that never promote value for your organization that then affect Customer loyalty.

For example, I first read this article on my Facebook feed. One of my friends posted this as they were amazed by it. Another comment was quickly added:

“This is precisely why I think I will leave EE – it’s disgusting that they want to charge me extra for something I should be getting anyway. Why should I have to pay extra to get decent customer service? It’s disgraceful and I really think they have misjudged it.”

2.  Delays in Resolving Problems: Several customers complain that their problems are not resolved several weeks after the incident was settled. The Telegraph, one of the UK’s national newspapers, reported that one customer who had been a loyal customer for 20 years was mistakenly turned over to debt collectors over the last payment on a cancelled service that he assume would be paid automatically like all his other payments had been. After a lengthy battle, he was informed that he would be reimbursed for his trouble. However, a month passed, and he had no reimbursement. Likewise, another woman frustrated by a confusing policy about calls made abroad that rendered her phone useless on a business trip to Spain has received no response to her request to be released from her contract.

Why this fails customers: A lag in response time sends the message that resolving the issue for a customer is not important. Lags in response time evoke the feeling of being neglected, an emotion that we associate with the destroying cluster of emotions.

Does this mean that followup phone calls, chasing their lack of response generates even more revenue and dissatisfaction?

3. Unclear policies about services: More than one of the complaints that I read about in the Telegraph article point to unclear policies for customers to understand. The first was that a woman didn’t know she needed to place a deposit on her account to make calls from Spain. Another is for a man whose credit rating precluded him from being able to make overseas calls. In both cases, the customers think they have a service only to discover when they try to use it that they failed to comply with the phone company’s standards and don’t have it.

Why this fails customers: This is honestly a two-part failure. First, the policy should be clearly stated to customers when they sign up for the service. Everyone should be aware of what services they do or do not have when they begin a business relationship. The fact that there is confusion about this points to a lack of communication with customers. Communication is key to having a good customer experience. Second, when customers have questions and call to have them answered, your team should be knowledgeable enough to resolve those concerns or connect them to those who do. In both of the cases here, there was no help from the call center to clear up the initial miscommunication.

Taking these examples into account and combining them with the regular complaints about payment issues, service problems and an ill-timed rate hike, you can see that the customer experience at EE is failing monumentally.

It was good to hear that EE had an “ongoing programme to improve service” although I am curious what the program entails if they introduce charging for line jumping as part of that program. I spent 18 years of my life working in telecoms, leading 3,500 people in a global Customer service organization, so I like to think I know a thing or two about Telecoms. This is why I say that, unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me. I mentioned this in my blog Why telecoms are so bad at Customer Experience. There seems to be something about the Telecoms industry that has a natural resistance to being Customer focused.

Do you think line jumping for a fee is wrong?

original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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