Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The oxymoron of customer service

There's a nice 'what the customers say vs what the company says' in Gulf News today which sums up customer service Dubai style.

I've described it before as: we give them our money and they decide whether to give us anything in return, what and when it will be. We must not complain and they don't need to apologise or explain.

In the two items Etisalat customers say:

A banker was recently kept on hold 20 minutes before the customer support representative picked up her call, not knowing that the number she had called was not a toll-free one.

Upon discovering how much she was charged for the call, she demanded to be compensated for the lost credit. "Why should I be paying to wait for them?"

She was told that the matter would be looked into but said she never received a response.

A subscriber of the company's Al Shamil DSL service called technical support at 4am and was told after a half-an-hour wait that the person responsible had left the office for the night.

An Al Shamil subscriber had an intermittent connection for five days, had lodged a complaint "many times" but received no response.

"I called them with a complaint and was given a reference number and told that a technician would call me. I never received the call so I called Etisalat back and was told that my complaint had never been registered," he said, adding that he waited for two more days but no technician called.

Another says: "For a whole year, I had an intermittent DSL connection. Every time I called Etisalat I was told that my complaint has been filed and I should expect a call and a visit from a technician soon. The technician came a year later after a number of calls and a demand for compensation," he said.

Yet another says: when he had difficulty accessing the internet Etisalat said a technician would call within a week. "It's been more than ten days now."

Etisalat says:

On average, the waiting time for internet customers is between 2 and 3 minutes.

Etisalat has provided alternate methods of getting in touch with its customer service staff which can be utilised during peak times.

Recent improvements in customer support levels have been acknowledged by customers "in writing".

And for all of us who think we've been struggling with unbelievably slow or intermittent service over the last few days - we're wrong.

Etisalat says:

There is no general outage in internet connections in any part of the UAE

There have been no "major issues apart from individual cases".

Khalifa Al Shamsi, Vice-President Marketing, said that the network had been performing very well.

So will you all please stop complaining, pay your outrageous perfectly reasonable bills every month and leave Etisalat in peace so they can continue to provide us with their marvellous service.

The stories are here and here.


Ibrahim Hussein said...

Although I know it is very popular to complain about Etisalat and Customer Support in general, but I would have to say my experience with Etisalat. Since I got Al-Shamil I donno how many years ago, every time I needed help I got it. I would be put on hold for a max of 5 minutes not more.

My very bad experience with customer support was with a bank couple of years ago, a very well known bank here in Dubai. I had to stay on hold for 45 minutes if not more, and in the end I was told the person who deals with my kind of problems just left and I need to call after the weekend !!!!

elle said...

My question is.....Why would you hold on for so long? If you haven't been helped in the first 5minutes face it you're not going to be helped.

My beef is when phoning our bank (M....Q) NO-ONE ever answers. After a while you get put on voicemail and they never return your call.

i*maginate said...

*ibrahim hussein

It is 'popular' to complain about certain companies - that was my viewpoint until I experienced first-hand what the 'popular' complaints were! It can be frustrating, but there could be internal issues within the company.


A constructive argument I may provide in response to your post is that perhaps 'synergy' between different departments could be worked on.

Collaboration is required for a company to function well. Customers are important, and the end result needs to be taken into account.

From a non-business level, consumers are people at the end of the day, and custom needs to be met with respect.

Individuals in any organisation may not be empowered to deliver what meets the consumer's requirements, but it would be good if this could be implemented in some way as a step to acheiving customer satisfaction.

Seabee said...

i* that's very true. The problem is that when the people at the top deny that any problem exists and treat clients/customers as a nuisance, as is the case with so many companies here, nothing will ever improve.

Anonymous said...

I raised the issues with some friends, who work in Etisalat, and they both felt that :

1) Etisalat was supposedly the best telecom company in the world

2) When I asked why, they said, Etisalat had among the highest profits of any telecom provider ,

3) On complaining about lack of speed etc they said that providing internet is a very difficult job which people like me cant do, so we should be grateful to Etisalat for providing us a way to communicate with the outside world, rather than complain !

dave said...

I must say that I have had great service from Etisalat technicians when they have attended my residence. On one occassion they even rung me the day before they were due to see if they could come around early to fix the problem.
But as for that banking institution H#@C... is this the most useless, unfocused, disjointed banking organisation in the world or am I just unlucky that EVERY TIME I have had to deal with them I get jerked around from person to person via their so called Operations Dept? If it wasn't such a hassle to change banks I would have dropped them ages ago. Latest problem is that they didn't deduct funds from my savings account for my loan at the first of the month despite a standing order to do so. Apparently this is my fault!!! I will keep on fighting with them.

Mars said...

so far so good with etisalat. but if i was put on hold for more than 5 mins...i just hang up and try later.

Vikram said...

A friend of mine called up Etisalat and the first thing he heard from the lady on the other side "Why have you called? Your phone is working".
How can you beat that - they are the smartest phone company on the planet.

Grumpy Goat said...

Beloved Wife and I have now been waiting for none months for Itisalot to came and connect the Crumbling Villa to ADSL internet.

The Customer Relations Manager has long since refused to answer my phone calls. (Pesky incoming call ID) When I use a different phone line he hangs up once he realises that it's The Goat again.