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Are you listening, Flow?


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Are you listening, Flow?

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CUSTOMER SERVICE seems to have become one of the most abused (yes, abused!) buzzwords in business.

Pretty much every company in communication uses it, but when it comes to providing the very essence of customer service, sadly, the majority fail to deliver.

It is evident when a customer is forced to stand in line for over an hour to pay a bill or to do a transaction. It shows when you report a problem and the response is an irritated “come back tomorrow”, and it shows when a company focuses all its resources on automation, and forgets the needs of its customers.

Contact number

I’ve been a loyal Cable & Wireless Antigua customer for over 30 years. I’ve gone through two rebrandings with them, through LIME and now FLOW, but what has become of what was once the Caribbean’s No. 1 communications company makes me wonder.

Have you ever tried calling the local FLOW stores to get information or have a problem dealt with? It’s difficult, because they don’t publish the contact number. They obviously do

DAILY

not want to be called directly (“We’d prefer you contact the call centre, thousands of miles away. Thank you very much.”) When you do have a local number, no one picks up the phone, so you are forced to leave your home or office and drive all the way to ’Town to see them.

When you arrive at the store, it’s full of people and you have to stand in line and wait and wait, because the poor customer service team has been reduced to the bare minimum. And with complete disregard for the fact that the line of customers seems to grow longer and longer each day – may be an indication that customers are not completely happy.

FLOW is not the only company where this happens, but when your company identity is “communication”, it is crucial that you deliver just that – great communication.

Did FLOW have their customers in mind when they created the automated response for their customer service call centre in Trinidad?

You call and the first thing the recording tells you is: “To hear your balance, or for billing and payment, press 1. For sales and promotional offers, press 2, and for technical support, press 3.”

Now, how many of you call customer service to receive information? Most of us grab the phone when we have a problem, when all else we tried has failed and this call is the last option available.

Help

You have deadlines, you are timestrapped, and you are impatient and anxious. How does it make you feel to hear a voice walking you through matters that interest the company first (collecting payments and selling) before it offers to connect you to someone who can help?

FLOW has also managed to perfect the art of automated payment reminders. Customers are flooded with email alerts and text messages and are even harassed at home, in the evening, when they are having a relaxing glass of wine with their friends. Talk about spoiling the mood and talk about bad marketing practices.

When you contact customers too often, you get into their space and they not only perceive you as an annoyance, but they also start ignoring your message, so what started out as an innovative payment reminder turns into an experience of being harassed.

I could go on and on.

My point is, you’ve lost your ability to effectively communicate with your customers, FLOW. You don’t listen to what is important to us. Our opinion matters, we have choices and we pay for the services you offer. Whatever you put in place can’t just be for your convenience, but it has to work for us.

If you keep ignoring us, you might be surprised to find out, one day, that despite all your investments in technical innovations, you won’t have customers anymore.

Customer experience strategist Adam Toporek so aptly summed it up: “Communication is integral to every customer experience. It is the glue that keeps customer experiences from falling apart.”

It’s time to truly listen up, FLOW, and it’s time to make some serious improvements in interacting with your customers.

– BÄRBEL PFEIFFER

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