Internet service providers and cable TV services have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of all rated industries in one survey. (One reason for this shared status is that they are often the same companies!) These firms do many things poorly, but a bizarre interaction with my current internet provider, uncovered a brand new customer experience failure.
The saga began when I was moving a large block files to the cloud. Progress seemed slow, so I ran a speed check. It came in at under 3MBps, which I was pretty sure was well below the speed I was paying for. I couldn’t recall exactly what my upload speed was supposed to be, though, so, I went to the ISP’s website and logged into my account.
I spent about ten minutes unsuccessfully searching for the details of my subscription. I assumed I was missing something obvious. Finally, I began a chat help session. I told the rep I needed to know the download/upload speeds I was paying for and couldn’t find them.
“We don’t know you”
Even though I was logged into my account on the website, the rep immediately asked for a 4-digit code from a billing statement:
When I explained I didn’t have that number and just needed to know my speeds, she asked for my location.
I tried to explain I just wanted to figure out how to see the information while viewing my account online. The rep dropped this bomb – there’s no way to do that:
“If we tell you, we’ll have to…”
So, I can see how much I’m paying, but not what I’m paying for? She continued:
This bizarre customer support chat will make you laugh. Or, maybe cry. Don't be this company! #CX #FrictionHunter Click To Tweet Apparently, finding out what you are paying for takes an extra authentication. And, she revealed, if I didn’t have the bill handy I could reset my login by other means. Naturally, she assured me that she couldn’t tell me what my internet speed was for my own protection.
After making a snarky comment about the damage an unauthorized person could do if they knew my internet speeds, I hunted on their site and found a recent invoice. I downloaded the PDF, found the four digit secret code, and posted it in the chat. The rep promptly informed me that I had the 200 up/10 down plan.
All of that effort was necessary just to find out the speeds that are part of my plan.
Let’s throw the agent under the bus
The chat closed with one final bit of friction: as is all too common, closing the chat prompts a question about my satisfaction, not with the company, their policies, their customer experience, but with the rep.
Almost every time I have a frustrating experience with a phone or chat rep, it has nothing to do with the agent – it’s the bad processes and policies of the company. Usually, the reps are courteous and trying to help within the parameters they are given. Companies with terrible customer experience never seem to ask about their policies, their procedures, their website or app… the areas that I want to provide feedback on.
Don’t be this company
Don’t make these same mistakes. Your customer service reps can tell you what frustrates the people they interact with every day – fix the aggravations! As I describe in FRICTION, a high effort customer service experience (like this one) can have devastating effects on customer loyalty and word of mouth.
It’s not a coincidence that some of the worst offenders for high-effort customer experience are firms like ISPs and cable TV providers that often still operate in a near-monopoly environment.
Ask the right questions
f you survey customers who interact with you, don’t focus on the rep – some customers will give the rep a bad score because they are frustrate. Focus on the overall experience. Collect info for a Net Promoter Score or, even better, a Customer Effort Score. These metrics may not be perfect, but they will give you far more useful information than asking if your phone or chat rep was “professional.”Make it EASY for customers to get the info they want. You'll get more loyal customers and happier, more productive customer service reps! #CX #FrictionHunter Click To Tweet