In tough times, companies need to pay more attention to retaining paying customers…
You don’t believe that something bad will happen to you until it actually does. At least if you are an eternal optimist, which I am not, you’ll live in that level of self-denial. Regular followers of this column would have noted that more often than not, I choose to use the platform to air out problems that most of us face as consumers. Now, can I help it that all these problems have happened to me? Before you wonder when I’ll get down to brass tacks, forsooth…
I have had a pretty normal relationship with my mobile phone service till date. Paid a large deposit, used my phone on international roaming and always paid my bills in time. Like any normal customer should and would. But the last month has been pretty bad – the only two occasions I was near a payment facility, the lines were huge and the only notes I had to feed the machine were fifty Rial ones. Not quite the amount I wanted to put in there for a bill of only thirty.
Cut to a week later and I find myself listening to the recorded voice that tells you you cannot make a call. So now I have a choice… cancel meetings and rush out to pay the bill or ask customer service to intercede. I needn’t have bothered, for the much-vaunted customer service only serves to state the obvious, yes my calls are blocked because one bill of thirty Rials has not been paid on time and yes they know that I have five times that on deposit with them and yes the choice is mine if I want to change my mobile phone service.
Now, it isn’t as if the root of the problem doesn’t start with me – I can’t claim being busy as an excuse for not paying my bills on time. I should have delegated, but there again I hit a blank wall because I don’t want to use company resources to handle personal stuff.
A quick back-of-envelope calculation tells me that I have spent more than 1500 Rials with my provider, always paid on time and would still walk away because of one instance of not being valued.
Some things are pretty evident in this. Obviously training isn’t as effective as it is made out to be, billing operates in a vacuum as do the operations and there is a human element lacking. Would it cost too much to have someone call up and tell you before the line is cut? Or push the case to a senior line manager to put on hold any action till the next bill is due?
I am sure most readers have faced the irritation of being treated shabbily as customers. Is it our lot that we have to bear this in silence or can we really do as suggested by our friend the customer rep and choose to take our business elsewhere? That wouldn’t be a problem in a large market where you have more than two mobile service providers. Here, the change would be till such time as the other player doesn’t add another nail into your wall of discontent.
At least in the case of my bank, I think things are different. I switched banks because I had tired of the dreary faces, long lines, empty counters and poor service of one bank in Qurum. The staff at my new bank in Qurum City Centre are completely the antithesis of that and they make every visit memorable with a friendly smile, prompt service, name recognition and a personal touch to everything, including taking care of the paperwork of depositing a cheque.