Arthritis, Nuts and crap service

Today showed me some extreme examples of Customer Service, one good, one bad and one from the last century.

Where to start? The Bad. I have private medical insurance and also have an arthritic hip that needs surgery. I have been trying to get authorisation for the work, and last Friday was asked to get a specific question answered by me GP. I did, and emailed the answer to the Customer Service representative who had emailed me the question.

10 days later I rang to seek a progress update and was told that there were now a few more issues that needed to be answered. One of course had already been answered before being asked!

When I enquired when and how I would have been told about these issues without having called in I got no answer. Well that’s not quite true: they did say that they tried to contact me “but couldn’t get through”. That means that they could not get through to my email address, or the mobile phone that is always on and always diverts to voice mail when busy.

I lost it at that point and decided a bit of escalation was necessary and I asked for the name of the Director of Customer Services. The poor girl didn’t know who that was. But I was given it – after checking – but when I asked for his email I was told that I couldn’t have it, and if I wanted to complain I should follow the complaints process.

Having a reasonable understanding of how email addresses are built, I blindly mailed FirstName.LastName@hopeless.mob and got an answer from the Head of CS (not the Director of CS) but he kindly told me who his boss is.

Why oh why could they not just give me the details and then manage the internal routing of mail according to their process.

Now the Good one: I signed up for a special offer in a Sunday paper recently. Boxes of nibbles, first free, second half price. Sounded good, but for some reason they just kept on coming and I was being charged.

I couldn’t find a way on their website to stop it all, so I Tweeted my feelings. 5 minutes later I had a response from the company offering a direct email and 10 mins later my account was sorted and my bank credited for payments that I had not expected to make.

Top Quality Service. Well done them!

And from the last century: well I phoned my Doctor and asked them to help with the medical problem above, “The Secretary’s not here now, can you call back in the morning?” (Not: “can I take a message?”)

Q: “Can I email the problem to you?”

A: “You can fax it to us if you like Mr D”

Q: “I don’t have a fax, can I email it?”

A: “We don’t use email much here”

Q: “You either use email or you don’t, you can’t have a little bit of it”

A: “We don’t allow patients to email us”

I gave up.

But the lesson from this is, I believe, that the one organisation that really wanted to get it all right was the new startup business, who want to grow, have committed employees possibly with a stake in the business and who see the need to provide service if they are to succeed.

It’s a shame that their wonderfully positive attitudes for decent customer service can’t spread into other sectors.

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