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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

Ian.

We have seen all of this blurb before. Being told fact to face in December that the customer experience was important and would improve, have amounted to nothing.

There is an awful lot of work for F9 to do to win the confidence of long term customers again, but if you are truly listening to what we have to say and are going to act on it, let's hope it is done in a relatively short period of time as there is only so much you can be forgiven for by customers. If the intention is to bring customer service back to the excellent pre- +Net period, and even in your first employment period Ian, then good luck.

Now you have made a public proclamation Ian, please don't let +Net go back on its promises :?:

Mark
7 REPLIES
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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

Hi Mark,

I have no problem expressing my views on F9 and their the service, or lack of service on the record. I am extremely, extremely unhappy with the total comtempt F9 now show in their behaviour & non verbal attitude towards customers.

The fact that F9 have withdrawn any useful technical support for paying customers (and sorry fiddling at the edges with stupd phone menu systems, & a phone system that terminates customer calls, I mean really what planet are F9 management living on NOT the same as customers for sure!!).

**I have consistently said on more than half a dozen occations over several years now that F9 have a REAL and serious problem. But F9 WONT even acknowledge they have a problem in the first place. Its like a blind man pretting he can still see. But hay! I'm only a punter & so do you think F9 are going to listen to me, NOP!!. F9's problem is they REFUSE listen to their customers, or take any notice what customers think or feel about the service they provide. Is it any wonder customers are unhappy and leave.

**F9 have become deaf & dumb it would seem, F9 are up themselves so much that they only beleive their own spin & retoric.

**F9 dont provide any technical support any more which is unforgivable for an ISP as this should be a core part of the service.

**F9 have a serious problem communicating with customers most of the time and this still is as bad as ever, there has been no perceivable change.

**F9 WONT change until they really wake up to the fact they do actually have some serious core business problems. F9 as a company are in denial that they have any problems with CS.

**And I'm in danger of leaving because I'm so unhappy with the treatement of customers when it comes to technical support.

**I'm confident that my opinion is a common one amongst many users when I say what customers want isnt even rocket science. F9 is failing misberably to provide a support service that meets users needs right now!!

Customers need & want to be able to phone up the providor and speak to a real person, preferably who isnt arrogant or patronising. Customers dont even mind their call being put in a que provided they are NOT terminated and after waiting someone is prepared to help them. NOT a robotic corporate automaton, who just says I cannot hep you, use the self help system on the website (guarenteed to enrage a person after waitng ages to get through!).

Ivan
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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

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I have no problem expressing my views on F9 and their the service, or lack of service on the record. I am extremely, extremely unhappy with the total comtempt F9 now show in their behaviour & non verbal attitude towards customers.


No disagreement there, I've been quiet for a while basically because I reached the point of "what's the point?" I suppose the notion that I'm willing to start posting again is a sign that things might be improving.

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The fact that F9 have withdrawn any useful technical support for paying customers (and sorry fiddling at the edges with stupd phone menu systems, & a phone system that terminates customer calls, I mean really what planet are F9 management living on NOT the same as customers for sure!!).


tbh, this is somewhere where I believe F9's backtracking maybe a little over zealous.

Firstly the technical support. I wholeheartedly disagree with a separate phone line/system for "technical" queries.

If you're cgi website isn't working, and you haven't changed anything - you should be able to phone up and speak to a person about the status of F9's provision of this service.

BUT, and it's a big but... If you're cgi website isn't working and YOU HAVE changed something - I don't think that's important enough to tie up the phoneline to a CS representative who probably knows nothing about cgi authoring anyway. In this case, I still think F9 should provide support via the portal. I'm sure it's possible for there to be an official technical support forum on the site that raises a ticket to a technical savvy group of CS staff when a new thread is started. Though my idea of tickets in this area wouldn't be necessary if F9 staff were actively involved, most of the time, with what happens in the forums. That way F9 are still involved in support, but it is provided on a "non-critical" path. But F9 would have to treat this area with respect, and not regard it as "an also ran".

Secondly, the phone system... I have only phoned Customer Services a couple of times during my time as a F9 customer, and never in the last couple of years - so I don't know what the current phone system is like. But I think the idea that you need to speak to an CS agent is flawed.

I also think that F9 seem (and correct me if I'm wrong) to have bought into the call centre mentality that you only speak to the first person who answers the phone about every issue. To me this is absurd. The range of issues that customers can ring an ISP about is immense and the idea that every member of CS staff can know about every area of F9's ISP provisions is untenable.

I believe the first things you should hear when phoning F9 is "Welcome to F9's support line. There are .... (a) No current known outages ... or ... (b) outage of ADSL in the Brighton area .... or .... (c) long delays with incoming mail [pause], outage of ADSL in the Brighton area [pause], problems with ADSL authentication such that you maybe seeing "unable to login the the network" type message. Basically an introduction so that even your grandmother phoning up when her ADSL isn't working can understand that "yes we know there's an issue - so you might as well hang up now". But if granny wants to stay on the line to speak to someone - she can.

I also believe that is necessary for the phone system to pre-filter the incoming calls with "press [1] for billing enquries, [2] for technical enquiries" .... "[2.1] for login problems, [2.2] for <whatever>, etc. And that CS teams are structured so that the CS person who answers the phone is more specialised in that area of the system. Rotate CS staff members as individuals on a semi-random basis, especially to areas of the system individual CS staff members are most interested in. It is the nature of teams that some people will be more experienced than others, but experience is gained by doing as well as working along side people who are more experienced than yourself. I personally would structure things so that new team members would spend 100% of their first week just listening in on calls, 75% if their second week, 50% of their third week, etc. Equally the most "senior" member of that team only answering calls 50% of the time and spending 50% of the time mentoring the rest of the staff in that area or shadowing ongoing calls to ensure the quality of service being provided is excellent, or at least improving. When other members of that team reach a level of understanding that they could be seen as "that expert", move the existing expert somewhere else. I'm not talking about a team leader here, that is a completely separate role and set of responsibilities. Ultimately, I believe working this way will mean that calls are shorter (ie. the customer is sorted out quicker), so call waiting times are shorter, and everyone is happy.

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But hay! I'm only a punter & so do you think F9 are going to listen to me?


I think they should listen. They might even act, but ultimately they should also have the change to say no too. I think a lot of F9's problems in the last couple of years when they went through periods of not saying no, but not saying yes either. They either said nothing, or sat on the fence. But these periods were intermingled with "radical ideas", most of which weren't particularly well thought out (though I'm sure they were exhaustively discussed - but that's not the same thing). This can only come down to the quality and style of the management. Any manager can tell customers they're changing their approach to the business, and a few might - but mainly people have core values and management impose those core values upon their staff, and therefore ultimately their customers. Recently that management have been focused on short term ideas of "cost effective" and "revenue", etc whereas long term ideas like "customer satisfaction" have been publicly touted, but seeming only from a "we have to be seen to be doing this" point of view. Recent management changes seem to coming back to the idea that "best practice, whilst more expensive, used to work out better for us in the long term - so maybe we'd better go back to that". Only time will tell if that is a genuine goal, or just appeasement.

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**F9 have become deaf & dumb it would seem, F9 are up themselves so much that they only believe their own spin & retoric.


Hopefully that is changing.

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**F9 dont provide any technical support any more which is unforgivable for an ISP as this should be a core part of the service.


The problem is the areas they don't want to provide (direct) support for aren't part of their core business. Most ISP's COULD run a service without providing usenet, cgi, webspace, mySQL, etc, etc. F9's management seem to have taken that idea to the point where they see these services are unimportant. Obviously that's wrong. The provision and support of these services used to be a reflection of a "provide the best" mentality. Of course I want to be able use these services, as I'm sure you do. But I do recognise that most F9's customer don't. However I look to how F9 deal with these services as a reflection of whether F9 are "doing the most they can do" or "doing the least they can get away with".

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**F9 have a serious problem communicating with customers most of the time and this still is as bad as ever, there has been no perceivable change.


As stated above, I think you are mistaken here. I think it's getting better. Still not good, but better. Only time will tell if this is smoke and mirrors.

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**F9 WONT change until they really wake up to the fact they do actually have some serious core business problems. F9 as a company are in denial that they have any problems with CS.


Again I disagree. They finally seem to have picked up on the idea there is a problem. Where I believe they are might be mistaken is that I believe they still think that it's a CS and end-user issue, rather the reality is that the CS have become the operation that the management wanted. If they can genuinely see now that it is the attitudes of the management that "need fixing" and that will roll out first to the CS and then to the attitudes of the customers - then maybe things will improve.

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**And I'm in danger of leaving because I'm so unhappy with the treatment of customers when it comes to technical support.


But where would you go? A lot of the original intake of technical savvy customers were because of the quality of technical services and support from F9. But I think you're forgetting how little it exists in the mainstream of UK ISP's. Yes F9 are bad at the moment, but they are still better than AOL, Demon, Freeserve, Telewest, etc). I'm sure there are better out there right now, but F9 are starting to show the potential for getting back to being the best at this. As implied above, I think the days when a techie user was able to pick up the phone and speak to someone as informed about the techie stuff as they were are gone - but as long as F9 can provide genuine (if somewhat secondary) support in this area, I hope that would be enough.

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**I'm confident that my opinion is a common one amongst many users when I say what customers want isnt even rocket science. F9 is failing misberably to provide a support service that meets users needs right now!!


Yes. But only in so much as tickets are not being answered quickly enough and the phone system (from what I have heard) is not what customers need. Again I think you have to remember that most F9 customers nowadays are only interested in switching on their computer (or console) and being able to play games, read email, browse the web and download via P2P. Latency is an issue. Connectivity is an issue. Price compared with other ISP's is an issue. And for the P2P'ers bandwidth and usage allowances are an issue. But for the vast majority of users, that's it. I think it's fair to say that F9's current problems stem from the idea that that these users are the most important. They seemed to be forgetting that if the techies and blowhards can be kept happy, then that automatically means the vast majority of issues will be sorted out well before it becomes apparent to the non-techie users.

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Customers need & want to be able to phone up the providor and speak to a real person, preferably who isnt arrogant or patronising. Customers dont even mind their call being put in a que provided they are NOT terminated and after waiting someone is prepared to help them. NOT a robotic corporate automaton, who just says I cannot hep you, use the self help system on the website (guarenteed to enrage a person after waitng ages to get through!).


Agreed. Though I think that most customers think they need to phone up when the reality is that they only want to phone up. That said, unless the quality of the alternatives (tickets / forums / etc) is of a sufficiently high standard - people are always going to phone up instead.

Again I think if F9 can wake up to the idea that instead of pushing their chosen preferred contact method down the users throat ("Please, please don't phone us... use the portal instead...") - they need to make the alternatives so much better that word of mouth means that people chose that method first. If technical support forums on the portal were exceptional, techies wouldn't be phoning the CS centre. If the portal ticket reporting system were everything it could be, with quick turn around, etc - then again (some) people would choose to use it as their primary method of contact.

I've summarised my suggestions about improving the CS experience for customers in the follow post to the suggestions forum.

http://portal.f9.net.uk/central/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7341

I've also added some ideas relating to performance and cost effective ways of dealing with some teams being busy and other teams being quiet, and how best to balance the problem of calls being queued, whilst staff members are sat not taking calls.
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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

I agree that F9 have gone down since the I joined them.

They go on about other companies and what they provide, and that you wont get better service from them because you maying less.

Well all I can say is, I am getting better service from another isp, paying less than what I used to pay F9 - there is no premium rate number to ring either regarding issues, phone calls don't get terminated granted it may take me a while to get through if need to query anything, but since I left f9 in march I've never had a problem with my broadband from them or with my email retreival. The same also goes for peak time management

Its something I don't like to say, but yes F9 have lost a lot of their qualities that made them a good isp in the first place, and if they're not careful people will leave with their pockets and move elsewhere

I would have probably taken f9 up on their new packages for calls and broadband but with the way they have conducted themselves over the past 6 months I don't think I will.

As for the meeting back in december it seems all the promises they made to listen to customers and give better feedback, etc was only mentioned to keep us all sweet at that meeting.

So come F9 give your customers the Quality of Service that you used to provide, give them feedback and listen to them.

regards
mike
okmbok
Grafter
Posts: 111
Registered: 02-08-2007

Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

"Your current broadband speed is 500 Kbps"

Do I look happy?
Evil
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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

NOP!! not from what I can see if you look like that?? :lol: :lol: TEE HEE!!

**Sorry! couldnt resist that one!! but you have my entire sympathy though.

Ivan
JonathanW
Grafter
Posts: 2,648
Registered: 02-10-2007

Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

You've got some good and constructive points there queeg500.

With regards to the telephone system, we do have most of what you're talking about in place. There's the general welcome message and a bit of a service status post on there, before customers hit the main part of the phone system and go through the various steps to identify what they're calling about. This has been there for quite some time, though we have recently changed the phone system so that we can better push these calls at the agents who are best able to handle the calls.

We've also introduced a seperate 0845 number that just plays the service status message, so that you can get this without having to call the regular phone line where you get the rest of the IVR system as well as the bit of information you're after.

We are working on improving the help assistant, and other online help pages, though this is going to take a little while as we identify the various pages that are either missing or need improvement, and then write the appropriate content for those pages. This is something that I believe Ian touched on with his post before the weekend.

The forums aren't really something that we've seen as an official support medium, as its difficult to offer direct advice on the forums as you need to be careful about the information you disclose, due to the DPA, and there's also nothing logged on the account itself, which means that there's no accountability there. We're always going to be here to offer advice and a helping hand, but the main idea behind the forums is members of the community supporting one another.

At the end of the day, we welcome customer feedback, on the current state of support, on the products we offer, on the snazzy logos we put on the portal occasionally, and even on the voices used on the phone system. But we're also a business, so it isn't always possible to act on the feedback and ideas that the customers raise.
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Announcement: If you’re not happy, then we’re not happy! (r

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We've also introduced a seperate 0845 number that just plays the service status message, so that you can get this without having to call the regular phone line


Which I know has been passed to the general user base, but tbh it's the sort of thing I'd phone the 2nd time I had an issue. First time, I would forget it existed and phone the general helpline. If a status message told me of problems upon being connected, I'd disconnect knowing there's little point being told the same thing by a human being. Having needed to use it and having been reminded it exists, I might use it. But equally I'd also probably be a little miffed at ringing one number to find out "yes, there is an issue" (the status line) and then having to ring a separate number (the general helpline) if I wanted further information not included in any recorded message.

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The forums aren't really something that we've seen as an official support medium, as its difficult to offer direct advice on the forums as you need to be careful about the information you disclose, due to the DPA, and there's also nothing logged on the account itself, which means that there's no accountability there. We're always going to be here to offer advice and a helping hand, but the main idea behind the forums is members of the community supporting one another.


All I'm saying is the there must be an aspect on the same recurring issues coming through the ticket system when certain problems exist.

Website help is great for common reoccuring issues like "how do I set outlook express?", and maybe even "Where do I store my PERL scripts, and how do I reference them" - but bad for "You're upgrading to mySQL 0.01.123, how is that going to affect my website?". And yes, community supported forums help in this situation, but in such instances people aren't looking for an informed answer from a dedicated amateur - they're looking for an absolute answer from a knowledgable professional (ie F9 staff).

Yes videos are a great idea, better structured help pages too (Though please, please don't end up with the freeserve model of "yes, the information is there - IF you can find it - IT staff never have problems navigating around complicated websites - users do).

"Forum's... nowt to do with us guv!" doesn't strike me as "best practice".

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At the end of the day, we welcome customer feedback, on the current state of support, on the products we offer, on the snazzy logos we put on the portal occasionally, and even on the voices used on the phone system. But we're also a business, so it isn't always possible to act on the feedback and ideas that the customers raise.


True. You'll note I didn't state "Do this, or I'm leaving" anywhere. And yes, I recognise that anyone posting criticism/suggestions on these forums are usually the more passionate section of your users, and quite often the least concerned about the company balance book. But I'll repeat my comment that if issues can be addressed when they are raised here or in other mediums, then they never become an issue for the vast majority off users. Yes, views voices here tend to be more extreme, but they are an advance warning of how the remainder of the user base may react as they become aware. I think I only need to make the case that concerns about the quality of user support and general "bahh, but they're only the users" attitude that eventually lead to the email that started this thread, were raised in the early part of last year -- Therefore they could have been addressed then rather than being allowed to fester.

There used to be a very good relationship between F9 and it's customers (it's why I joined), you're now stated "we've seen the light", and we're saying "but yeah, we heard all this at Xmas... don't believe you anymore... PROVE IT".

James Bailey appears to genuinely interested in repairing the breach. Ian Wild too seems to have brought back a sense of "returning to what made is so good in the first place". Maybe things are getting better... but maybe it's just another form of spin to appease the disaffected.