Today has been a bad day for customer service

Dear Richard,

Despite your entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, I have had a decidedly below par experience of the Virgin brand this week.

Firstly, I have had to travel on Virgin trains a lot. And they are crap. They are crap because there are not enough luggage racks – on a long journey most people have overnight bags. Did no one think of this when they were designing your trains? While I’m on the subject, why put the luggage racks in the middle of the train?  It causes a bottleneck and panic as people scrabble to get off the train with their luggage.  The overhead racks are barely big enough to post a sandwich in. The trains are cramped, mostly because the aisles are cluttered with overnight bags, they are hot and stuffy and my carriage smelt vaguely of vomit. A shambles.

I’m only mentioning Virgin trains this now as I am freshly incensed by your brand today and the problems I’ve had with my internet connection.

In the last 24 hours I have spent over three hours on the phone to various Welsh people in a Virgin call centre. I’m sorry but life is too short for this.

At first I dialled the customer service number full of hope and optimism. My heart sank as an overly chipper automated person answered and asked me to key in my home telephone number ‘so that we can deal with your call more quickly’.

This initiated a multilevel filtering system, ‘to help us help you more quickly’. At some point in the process a helpful automated person suggested that I might want to go online to get help. Given that m I’m calling because my internet is not working, the offer just makes me more irritable. Which by this point is about 8 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very irritated indeed.

Finally, I get through to a real person who asks for my telephone number again and then puts me on hold because I need to speak to a the ‘national team’ whatever that means.  At this point I get the option of choosing my answer phone music. Presumably Virgin are aware that if you have got to this stage of so near but yet so far, that you might deserve some choice in how you would like your brain numbed. I zoned out after the pop and classical options and decide to stick with whatever genre I had been defaulted to for fear than any interference would prolong my wait time.

To be fair the various Welsh people who I conversed with were pleasant enough, if not somewhat patronising. I did resent having to tell my story afresh to each different individual. I also hate being called Madam as anyone who knows me knows – but today worse than called madam was being called Mrs Gower – that’s my mum.

So the helpful patronising Welsh person insisted that to test the service I have to remove the base of the phone socket to plug the phone line into a different socket. The last time someone tampered with these screws on the socket was probably about 1980 – so they are welded on. So there I am, wedged between the sofa and the wall face down trying to leverage the welded in screws with the helpful person at the end of the phone on speaker enquiring if perhaps I have any friends who can help, in a tinny voice laced with a level of irritation to match my own.

Eventually I got the screws off the wall. But I had to call back and navigate once more through the multi layer system. It’s apparently not possible to have a number to the right team, surely that would be helping me more quickly than me giving my phone number to every new person I speak to?

Anyway the outcome is that the internet works a bit, but like the internet worked in 1994. Slowly. Virgin say it’s the router and the router says its Virgin and I am now also broken with a fried brain from overexposure to hold music not of my own choosing.

This blog is like therapy. If I manage to post it and you are reading this – you are experiencing a miracle.

So I’m struggling to find a positive outcome, the only silver lining is in an attempt to find internet I discovered a great local café that has not only internet but excellent coffee and the best Chelsea buns I’ve ever tasted.

So whilst this letter isn’t a patch on this letter, I do want to highlight to Virgin and any other customer facing organisation some advice to keep customers happy.

  • Care about your customer
  • Employ real people
  • Answer the phone
  • Listen to people and record the conversation so they don’t have to keep telling their story
  • Don’t call me Mrs or Madam

Rant over. Thank you for listening.

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2 responses to “Today has been a bad day for customer service

  1. This is by far the best rant I’ve ever read. And funny. Richard I hope you’ve taken note. I can assure you that anyone who reads this has.

  2. Pingback: Why we have our best ideas in the shower | Lucyinnovation's Blog

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