The Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman released a report yesterday on how it had received 200,000 complaints last year – and consequently fined the companies $28 million dollars. The offending companies, including Telstra, Vodafone Hutchison, Optus and iiNet saw complaints rise a whopping 18% over the year before.
While it’s nice to see that this industry is being policed (although it would be interesting to see where the fine money goes…), it really doesn’t come as a surprise. Systemically horrendous customer service by telco’s is ubiquitous, and not likely to go away soon. Why is that?How is it that consumers be so upset by bad treatmentfrom an entire industry, yet companies still survive? Good question.
If you notice, Telcos will advertise how good their network is, how good their pricing is and how great the phones they carry are, but none of them make claims about having great customer service. They don’t talk about how important their customers are, or how they want to make sure their customers are happy. There’s a reason for this. It’s because they don’t care.
Telcos don’t view customer service asa strategic business pillar. They see it as a necessary evil. It is an expense. A line item that creates a blemish on the quarterly financials they have to give to the shareholders. That’s why they resort to using undertrained, undermotivated, underempowered, outsourced employees – or worse – IVR telephone systems that are designed to ultimately discourage customers from talking to a human being.
Normally, when these types of situations exist, customers vote with their feet. But in the case of telcos, there are not better alternatives. The big guys – who own all the towers – all take the same approach. Like it or not, until some company comes around that actually cares about us (and not just our wallets), we’re pretty much stuck with it.
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