I had an absolutely awful experience with one of our largest and best known companies this week that I need to share with you. I’m not going to mention them by name at this stage because I didn’t ask them to formally reply to the situation I faced.
I was on the phone to this organisation for forty-five minutes with no resolution to the problem I faced which was, quite simply, that I wanted to cancel a SIM contract for mobile broadband. I had previously been in touch with this company a couple of months ago and I thought I had already made a final payment during that call but then I got another bill, which I queried and was told would be resolved.
Then I got another invoice and decided I had to call them again. Three different people that I spoke to all decided that they didn’t have the authority to help me, and in fact one of them told me that ‘no-one in the whole company would have the authority to cancel that invoice’.
Strange then that after a call to the Press Office I got a call from the Director’s Office apologising for the way I had been treated and agreeing to cancel the payment.
I don’t like doing it that way, but I wanted to explain to them how frustrating it is for customers who can’t get simple issues resolved because of the layers of bureaucracy that companies pile one on top of the other, and because staff are not trained properly and given the authority to make simple decisions that will rectify customers straightforward problems.
We were, after all, talking about a £15 invoice here, the last payment I was ever going to make to a company I wasn’t doing business with any more.
Would it really have been so difficult to delegate the authority to deal with customer requests like the one I had to supervisors or managers who deal with their customers rather than have these same supervisors tell me that there was no-one in the company who could help me?
And why, if there really was no-one in the company that could help me, was the account closed and the £15 written off a day later when someone from a different department called me.
I have to say I don’t blame any of the people I spoke to on the phone, they ere just doing what they were told to do. I blame the processes that the people that I spoke to have to follow, that don’t give staff the authority they need to deal with situations like mine, which means that they can’t be resolved simple and customers either go away frustrated or do what I did and speak to people in the organisation that do have the authority.
None of it should be necessary. Staff should be properly trained, treated like adults and allowed to deal with customers in a grown-up and civilised way. If that happens the organisation would have fewer frustrated customers and more satisfied staff who felt valued and a real part of the company.