Back in the early nineties, I was one of the first folks at Sky TV Subscription centre in Livingston, a satanic mill of a place. A barn with 10 guys in IT, and 400 ladies on phones. Perhaps one of the earliest large-scale phone centres here in the UK. A truly horrible place (thanks to Sky TV's employment policies).
Call centres are there to give the veneer of customer service, as cheaply a possible. There's two ways of achieving this:
- Have expensive highly trained and motivated people who can solve your problem at the end of the phone line. Apple are a good example of this. A pleasure to deal with, on the phone for minutes.
- O2's version, where you have a group of poorly trained people who have absolutely no hope of solving your issue.
In the latter case, they try and stop customers from recording their issues by Dumping and Burying calls:
Dumping Calls involves the call magically being disconnected during the conversation. With O2, I found that at least one in three calls were dumped for no reason - usually when trying to connect with the 'Network Services Team'. The way to combat this - and it proved quite effective - is to get the name of the operator at the start of the call, and keep repeating:
'Remember, I have your name, and if this call gets dumped, I'm just going to call you straight back'
The operator I tried this on within O2 was quite offended that I had suggested this but:
- Knew what this technique was
- My call didnt get dumped
Burying calls means that they are not recorded. Once my complaint had reached the highest levels within O2, I quickly discovered that all my previous calls to them were unrecorded. Why ? The operator couldnt fix my call and had decided - perhaps because they make the stats look bad - to bury the call.
The way to ensure that calls don't get buried is to ask for a reference number right at the start - they then have to start recording the call. O2 claim that this is their standard operating practice, but is not my experience.
Be Polite but firm. If you start swearing on the phone or making threats, they quite rightly cut you off. Its not that persons fault that the firm is messing your around. "Hard on the process, Soft on the person".
Dont get fobbed off. British people are bad complainers in that we'll endure any old crap service. When new Labour got into power, Prescott made an amazing discovery. He discovered that as long as the British people put up with the public transport system (especially in London), the government could do anything it wanted.
Be clear what you want. Dont get all fluffy. We want the service to work, and compensation for the lack of service we received. The severed head of the customer service manager served on a platter would be a bonus.
Record everything. Remember. They're recording your calls. They will have no hesitation in getting someone to listen to tens of hours of telephone logs if they think they can wheedle out of a complaint. So record times, dates, names and reference numbers.