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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

Dear Plusnet,

On a constructive note, may I make the suggestion that Plusnet urgently set up a paid for Customer Fault Telephone Switchboard. My suggestion is that:

1) The switchboard works on a premium rate telephone number but costs say 10-15p a minute (which most customers would be quite happy to pay - not an extortionate rate unlike the existing - down - 50p/min Premium Support no. that I got burnt with over 20mins, and still didn't get through to anyone, just the automated systems!). That way the switchboard would make money but also be partially subsidised.

2) Each person on the swithboard can see your Fault on their screen and have the power to assign the fault to your team pools, as agents are already able to do.

3) It is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that when you call the number directly, A PERSON answers directly. If there is a queue, the automated system just tells you how many people there are waiting in front of you, (even if it's 156, at least the caller knows EXACTLY how many people are in the queue in front of them - that's a limited amount of satisfaction ya know!). There are absolutely no other automated systems at all on the switchboard except a very short message at the beginning to say "Welcome to the Plusnet Customer Fault Line. Please note that this line is only for reporting a fault. If you wish to contact Customer Services please call XXXX XXX XXXX [you don't have a number but you should - equally simple one] or press 1 now." That's it, nothing else!

4) The switchboard staff would not be Customer Service staff trying to peddle you things. They would just be paid to help your resolve your fault. They would however get a bonus based on how much satisfaction each customer received per call. That could be done by putting a customer satisfaction scale for each call on the customer's login page (applied by the switchboard staff) which can be adjusted after each call (an email reminder to adjust the scale could also be sent).

Is this impossible to achieve? The main aim of the switchboard is for a customer to actually be able to speak to a person/human, for that same person to have the power to then be able to update you on exactly what the detail of your fault is and have the power to reassign it to the appropriate Technical person/pool as necessary, without delay. The customer can ring back as many times as they like for an update. In such a way customers are reassured. That's not such not a novel idea is it - it's just aiding a company's internal and external communication isn't it?

Why are so many companies so inept at providing this these days? It can partially pay for itself and it's good customer service - the lifeblood for company survival surely??

Yours,
Ed.
10 REPLIES
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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

Has anyone ever phoned Oki technical support? it was a graet experience, i dialed an 01xxx number and a guy answered "hello oki technical support" hello there i have a problem with such and such printer "ok try this, try that.. you need to do this" "ok thats fixed it, thanks very much bye"

That is perfection Smiley
andyhargreaves
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

Quote
If there is a queue, the automated system just tells you how many people there are waiting in front of you, (even if it's 156, at least the caller knows EXACTLY how many people are in the queue in front of them - that's a limited amount of satisfaction ya know!). There are absolutely no other automated systems at all on the switchboard except a very short message at the beginning to say "Welcome to the Plusnet Customer Fault Line. Please note that this line is only for reporting a fault. If you wish to contact Customer Services please call XXXX XXX XXXX [you don't have a number but you should - equally simple one] or press 1 now." That's it, nothing else!


Some good ideas. What about simply not answering the call until someone is available. This minimises the cost to the end user. Current wait times could be posted on the website.

I just hate automated systems. Press 1 systems are only marginally more acceptable that voice recognition systems, which in turn are only slightly more pleasant than having teeth pulled without anaesthetic. PNs is especially bad because so many of the options are dead-ends and just get cut off after an unhelpful recording.

Andy
andyhargreaves
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Registered: 30-07-2007

Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

UPDATE - according to PN (http://www.plus.net/supportpages.html?a=212) the average call waiting time is only 19mins 12secs. Really?Huh
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Agreed

Andy,

I agree with you entirely.

What's the use of:

"There are currently no service issues, goodbye..beeeeeeep"Huh!!!

Regards,
Ed.
MysteryFCM
Grafter
Posts: 528
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

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I just hate automated systems. Press 1 systems are only marginally more acceptable that voice recognition systems, which in turn are only slightly more pleasant than having teeth pulled without anaesthetic. PNs is especially bad because so many of the options are dead-ends and just get cut off after an unhelpful recording.


Couldn't have said it better myself ...!
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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

How about they just give us remote access to their systems and we have a go for ourselves. Can't get much worse can it! :lol:
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Further thought to help poor Plusnet

andyhargreaves wrote:

Quote
Some good ideas. What about simply not answering the call until someone is available. This minimises the cost to the end user. Current wait times could be posted on the website.


Thinking further, rather than making customers hold on the line until an agent is available, why not put them in the queue and give them a queue no. when they first call up (like taking the electronic equivalent of a deli ticket at the supermarket), then you put the phone down. When the agent becomes available and it's your turn, the phone rings you back! This is a bit like when you put your phone number in on a website and you immediately get phoned back. That stops wasting your time and prevents a whole queue of customers being kept on hold.

Now the second important part of it: This is so that customers are sure that they will be phoned back (customers are quite justifiably pessimistic that they will never get phoned back because of human error as more often than not you leave a message on on voicemail and switchboards just bypass them for various reasons - the point about phoning is that you want direct communication, right now!).

The whole queue of customers is listed on Plusnet's website, by caller no. or customer id or something or both. The list updates dynamically (like DHTML/reliable Java stock tickers) as calls are answered and against your no. will be the estimated time left to wait (as andy suggested above). That way the progress is transparent and the customer can see the queue progressing and be able to prepare as their own call approaches.

Furthermore a customer could just acquire a queue no. for a callback online (so without having to ring initially).

If the customer misses their call after say five rings, no problem they just have to call again!

That feels novel but surely it's alreay been done before somewhere? Even more attractive is that this system could even be deployed using Plusnet's current telephone switchboard resource (even with the innaccurate estimated 1 hour waiting time) by tacking on the necessary web queue system.

Whaddya reckon PN?

Yours,
Ed.
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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

The chances of that happening would be quite slim since PN would incur ALL of the costs for phone support.

If this did happen then you wold see a dramatic rise in the cost of subscription to cover this.
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Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

echabi such a system already exists and is known as Q Buster. Essentially if there are wait times the customer gets an option to either wait in line or get a callback. If they choose a callback their place in the queue is retained. Once it is "their turn" the system tags the first available agent to take their call and an outbound dialler calls them. This can be linked to internal systems to pop the customers details on the screen. The experience for the customer is "Hello Mr Jones this is xxx calling from xxx yadayada".

Sadly, the system I have worked with is flawed. In periods where there are long wait times the customer loses patience after an hour and calls back which confuses the tagging system.

It would be interesting to know what key performance indicators PlusNet use to manage their contacts i.e. are they asked to answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds or are they measure on a first time fix ratio. Usually centres managed on first time fix have higher wait times in periods of outage whilst the customer is kept on the line by someone taking ownership of the calls.
pacem
Grafter
Posts: 175
Registered: 07-09-2007

Constructive Suggestion - The Ultimate Switchboard

Hmm, 19 minutes could be correct.
When they say they are counting average wait times, they don't say that they are not counting people who stopped waiting 'cos they've given up. I could easily imagine most people giving up after 15 minutes on hold.

Waiting an hour makes it a premium service 'cos you pay 3p*60mins=£1.80 to get through and then you probably only take 3 minutes talking to helldesk.

Paul.<><