when a brand’s frontline only works face to face

Due to the fact that practically everything I own has decided to break in the last week I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to Customer Services.

I continue to be amazed that for the sake of saving a bit of dosh some companies are prepared to have such appalling front line representation.  Shouting down a crackly phone line to someone on the other side of the world for whom English isn’t a first language (one Tiscali guy couldn’t tell his days of the week apart) isn’t my idea of fun.

But every time I’ve come face to face with a real, live person they couldn’t have been more helpful or a better brand ambassador (yes, even Tiscali’s engineer who came to the house).  It possibly has something to do with the touchscreen customer satisfaction survey they now ask you to fill in at the end of their visit, but I’ve been ticking ‘excellent’ on various touchscreens this week then a few hours later found myself on the phone to another company begging to be put through to someone more senior, preferably in the same country as me.

It seems bonkers that big brands like TalkTalk (who bought Tiscali) spend millions on marketing activity, but when it comes to real contact with their brand they’re prepared for it to be such a let down.  Perhaps it’s an approach that focuses on the revenue opportunities from Brand New Customers Only, but given that we all love telling each other about rubbish customer service it seems a bit of a dis-jointed, short term approach.

another gem by Tom Fishburne

The marvellous face to face customer service I tend to receive on a more day to day basis might have something to do with my theory that I get mistaken for a mystery shopper a lot.  En route to Planner’s drinks at SupNorth in Manchester last night I pulled into Pizza Hut (the lesser of the evils on offer) for a quick refuel.  Thirtysomething women on their own with big handbags must be fairly unusual at 6pm on a Friday at Pizza Hut.  When I mentioned that I was in a bit of a hurry the entire restaurant appeared to swing into action, with two waiting staff tending to my every need and my pizza was on my table seven minutes later.  The staff all looked rather panicked when I pulled out my notebook to write up some meeting notes…

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