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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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PlusNet Customer Support Update

Taken from plus.net Forums

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Reposted from annoucements:

Where we are

Both those with first hand experience, and readers of the many online community areas where PlusNet is often discussed, will know things at PlusNet towers have been hectic (to say the least) for some time now. We operate in a difficult industry, where constant innovation is required and rampant competition is driving down prices. At the same time, broadband consumers are very demanding over both price and quality.

To top all that, bandwidth consumption has increased over the last two years; therefore the relative costs that ISPs incur have steadily increased. The impact is harder when you consider there has been no real reduction in the cost of bandwidth to ISPs, despite the boom in numbers of broadband connections in the UK. If that hasn’t been enough pressure, the rollout of ADSLMax by BT has created a significant amount of customer enquiries in to our support centre.

At PlusNet, we think we have succeeded in many ways. One example is that we have drastically cut broadband access costs for hundreds of thousands of consumers. Another is the fact we punch above our weight to survive as a small ISP from Sheffield in a market where most others have failed. Through achieving that, we never wanted to impact the quality of our service or the high levels of customer support we are famous for offering. Although we have picked up numerous awards for customer service this year, we are all too aware that customers who have had a question for support, or have been affected by a problem with their connection, haven’t always received a good enough response.

This post represents the launch of a significant internal project to overhaul the customer facing aspects of our business. It will address the problems that have been clearly presented to us through customer feedback and by the experienced members of our team. It’s now time for us to get back to the principles that made us successful. The most important aspect of this, for us, is to restore a full focus across the business on customer satisfaction. Over the coming weeks we will be implementing many measures, some visible and others not, that we believe will address the areas we know some of our customers are concerned about most.

Nice words PlusNet, but what does it mean for me?

Our customers are our lifeblood, and without support and recommendation from our customer base, we will never achieve the long term objectives we have set for ourselves. Whilst we don’t have control over what happens in the industry, we do have control over the experience our customers receive. By applying the principles we have proven to work in the past, but have neglected in recent times, we can make big differences quickly.

Recently our business hasn’t always given staff on the front-line the support and direction they needed in order to deliver the quality of service we intended. The best example of this is the adoption over recent months of simple but inflexible internal processes. Although easier for us to follow, this approach focused more on replication, rather than challenging if we were giving our customers an appropriate level of service and support for the products we supply. We have also allowed recent recruitment drives to bring down the overall skill level within our support centre.

The above issues and more are all being tackled right now, with changes in our management structure, investments in resources and investments in systems that we believe will allow us to quickly change our focus. This includes reviewing all of our processes, as well as putting our support team in control of the content on our website and the decisions made about our customers. As the people talking to our customers are the ones who know most of all what issues impact people most, this makes a lot of sense. With these changes occurring, the experience our customers have when using our online processes and when they do indeed need to get in touch with us will change for the better.

The recognition of all this has been a relatively recent one. For a number of months now we have operated in a way that hasn’t delivered support in a way that always puts customers first (within the bounds of what our product design allows). At the same time, we have been focussing our attentions in the wrong direction. As an example: we spend lots of time on phone calls, hand-holding customers through the setup of their software, when it would be better all round to provide a set up guide or video that customers could easily access through our website. Most importantly for us, it all comes back to a belief that we have always held but haven’t always demonstrated: If a broadband customer needs to contact us, we have fundamentally failed.

Overall, we believe we can offer a better balance between cost and quality than anyone else in the UK. Being responsive to customer feedback and at the same time delivering on our commitments to offering the best value available anywhere is our priority. We will never be perfect though, and trying to achieve that isn’t our goal – perfection is simply not possible at the same time as being the genuinely low cost, ‘real’ ISP that we want to be.

What else are you doing?

Our support centre is the place we are focussing on at the moment. Other ISPs, facing the same challenges as us, have chosen to simplify, scale up and offset the associated costs by outsourcing or off-shoring their customer support. We don’t think that’s a solution that results in a good customer experience. We are putting our efforts in to up-skilling and improving the quality of our support team by employing the intelligence we have to make things better. Our priority is customer satisfaction. We have achieved it for many years and we are determined to get back to achieving it now.

There’s lots of stuff happening, and the comms team will be telling the community more about it soon. The comms team are grounded in our customer forums and operate from a support, rather than a marketing perspective. James Bailey, the new comms team leader, is a great customer champion and his team are there to engage and support the community. James will be making a post next week to clearly set out his goals and objectives for the comms team in the coming months.

Something else we are doing, which will help make sure we do not let things slip again, is a move to new premises this autumn. This will bring our full operation back together in one location and help us become much more joined up all round.

Is there anything the community could do to help?

We’ve always been grateful for the feedback we get, even when it’s negative. We need your feedback now as much as ever - The only thing we ask is that people try to keep things in perspective. PlusNet has close to 200,000 customers, and for most of those people the PlusNet experience is an excellent one. Our churn rates (The number of customers leaving us) remain the lowest in the industry and we still attract the vast amount of our signups through customer referrals. Whilst we don’t accept that all the negative feedback directed at us is valid, where we do get things wrong we now need get back to getting those things right again!

Lots of people participate in forums and newsgroups where PlusNet is discussed. While we don’t reply to everything that gets posted, many people across the business read what our customers have to say on a daily basis. We work in a very different culture to that operated by most companies. The recent rebirth of the PlusNet UserGroup also presents lots of opportunity for customer involvement, and if you haven’t already, we’d encourage you to check out what is going on with PUG at http://usergroup.plus.net/takepart . The UserGroup can and do hold us accountable for the things that they see are wrong.

That’s all we can say for now (and we appreciate there was a fair bit there!). We fully acknowledge that it is our actions now, rather than words, that are what matters here, and we expect to be judged on those actions rather than anything in this post. To sum it all up though: We want to get back to getting it right, and that is the process that is now starting – Many more details will follow!

Kind Regards,

Ian Wild
Customer Communications Manager
11 REPLIES
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

Wow, I certainly hope things do improve ....

it's taken 5 days for this post to appear at F9 :twisted:
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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Wow, I certainly hope things do improve ....

it's taken 5 days for this post to appear at F9 :twisted:


Your right! :lol:

I posted it onto the forums as i thought people of F9 and Freeonline should have a chance to read it.

However Ian could have forgot to post it here.

J.
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

Thanks Jeremy,

I caught the post over at AG a couple of days ago, again thanks for getting the post on the forum....
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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Thanks Jeremy,

I caught the post over at AG a couple of days ago, again thanks for getting the post on the forum....


No Problem! :lol:
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

As much as I DO NOT want the forums merged, it seems that too many of these announcements find their way to 3rd party forums and +Net forum but not F9 :twisted: This is the second post in a week that has "forgotten" to be posted here, the other being a service status about the email service, although an update did appear some 5 hours after being posted on +Net .

This is not acceptable on the part of CS, and i'm sorry, but Ian should know better. After all, when they make these postings, it is only a matter of ticking some boxes to allocate the newsgroups/ forums they want it sent to. I believe the default setting of these boxes should be all ticked and remove those that it doesn't apply to.

Mark

P.S. Thanks Jeremy.
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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That’s all we can say for now (and we appreciate there was a fair bit there!). We fully acknowledge that it is our actions now, rather than words, that are what matters here, and we expect to be judged on those actions rather than anything in this post. To sum it all up though: We want to get back to getting it right, and that is the process that is now starting – Many more details will follow!


Yes actions do speak louder than words but this has taken a long time to get through to F9
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

Hi,

I'm so utterly dis-illusioned by F9 PlusNet and their lack of real consideration for customers (there is no customer care!), their total inability to communicate in an appropreiate & timely manner with customers, their marketing bull when describing products & service, their constant changing of their goal posts that I've lost any respect I previously had for F9. F9 is a shadow of its former self, F9 today is nothing like the ISP I jioned all those years ago. F9 do a first rate job at alienating their own cutomers. I'm presently looking for another providor, one who still offers a real support service with real people who can help paying customers over a phone line without waiting for a week to get a simple answer to a straight forward question.

Ivan
tonymunro
Grafter
Posts: 32
Registered: 04-08-2007

PlusNet Customer Support Update

I agree with Mark about this information not automatically being posted on the F9 Forum. Thanks to Jeremy for facilitating that process but it really shouldn't have been his responsibility. Personally I think that demonstates just how poor the customer support experience is. My contract is with F9 and as such I expect the company to convey such information under that brand not expect me to search for it in another marketing section it has.

Another point I want to make is, I can quite understand that the 'churn' rates are lower than other ISPs when you tie customers into 5 year contracts. I'll put my hands up and admit my failure to read the small print. However, surely a 5 year contract, which is outside of the norm for the industry, is something that shouldn't be hidden away in the small print. I chose F9 because of good reviews about its reliability and customer support, important to me coming from the dreaded Bulld@g. At first I was pleased I'd made the switch but not anymore. The reliability of the service is starting to suffer with intermittent disconnections with no-one interested at CS in resolving the problem. I no longer report them just wait in hope that the problem goes away. Customer Service fails on so many other things too. from failing to respond in a timely manner as mentioned by Ivan to no longer supporting fundamental elements of the service. Just one example why should customers have to look to the online community for explanations of F9's SUP/FUP when they have been sent a management email by CS? For god's sake it's their policy (which changes far too often) - they've sent the damn email yet won't enter into any discussion about whether the management of your account is correct.

So what do I do, stick with F9 and hope that things improve which I truly don't believe will happen or pay £50 to get out of an unfairly lengthy contract and take my chances with another ISP? :roll:

Twice during writing this post the connection has dropped off for no damn reason - well certainly not at my end, everything has been checked and double-checked. FFS!!!!
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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I agree with Mark about this information not automatically being posted on the F9 Forum. Thanks to Jeremy for facilitating that process but it really shouldn't have been his responsibility.


Just so people know... I did send a pm to Ian on the day i posted the message, asking why this was info was not made available to the F9 & Free Online Community - i am still awaiting a response.
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

Hi Jeremy,

Ian went on hols a few hours after that announcement was made. You probably wont get a reply from him for a bit.
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PlusNet Customer Support Update

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Hi Jeremy,

Ian went on hols a few hours after that announcement was made. You probably wont get a reply from him for a bit.


Cheers for letting us know.