Thursday, 10 September 2009

From delight to disappointment; T-Mobile: FAIL.

T-Mobile: Fail. Badly.

Excuse the long post but I really feel the need to vent. The headline above says it all if you can't be bothered to read the whole sorry saga, but I do urge you to scroll to the bottom to read the last sentence.

I'm way out of contract on my mobile and have been debating my options for a while but there've been other things higher on the priority list. Last night I finally got around to starting an evaluation exercise on my actual mobile use in minutes / texts etc so I could evaluate the best deal/provider going forward.

You'd have thought that should/would be straight-forward. So I log in to my account, as I now get my bills online so I don't face the monthly charge of £2.13 (excluding VAT) to get a paper copy, to find that at a click I can get a breakdown of what I've paid by month over the two years or so (but not a total incidentally). Fine. But could I get the same for my usage? Oh no.

I faced the time-consuming challenge of having to select each billing month (click#1), then click view (click # 2), wait for it to load, then click on a 2nd tab to the one displayed (click#3), then click on another link (click#4) to get a graph for an individual month to then write down the figures and input them into a spreadsheet myself, then another click (click#4) to select a different month, then click#5 to view that one and start over. 5 clicks x 12 months = 60 clicks + the time required.

Now that seemed pretty daft to me given that it should be a simple data extract query. So I thought I'd try customer services. Clicking on "Contact us" put you through a complicated FAQ-checker process before you actually got to submit a query. By which time I'm grumpy and even more frustrated.

In fairness, I did get a phone call from a customer services advisor first thing this morning. I'll give them that. Except said customer services advisor at call centre which I am guessing was not in the UK, couldn't get their head around what I wanted and kept telling me that they could send me printed copies of my bills (that's 12 x £2.13 = £25.56+VAT.) I pointed out that all it needed was a single simple data extract against information that they clearly have. That went completely over the head. After going off to try and find a solution they rang back said, no they didn't have access to the data (or sentiment to that effect) and offered me the printed statements again (still at a cost to me). By which time I am disbelieving, frustrated and trying to work out what the hell can be so complicated about a simple spend v use breakdown request.

I get passed to Customer Services Manager. After some heated discussion he tells me I AM THE FIRST PERSON IN THE WORLD to ever have asked for a retrospective at-a-glance monthly breakdown of the last years usage. REALLY? Their systems can't do it he says. They don't have spreadsheets. They can't send attachments. Hellloooooo? This is 2009. T-Mobile & the other network operators are increasingly selling themselves as DATA PROVIDERS. FAIL.

I pointed out that the key issue in this matter was not that the data was not available to me, it was that it wasn't available in a convenient manner and it would take me an age to compile it manually. We eventually reached an agreement whereby they'd pull the data but they'd have to send it to me in the body of an email. Bonkers, utterly ineffective use of their time, but at least I get the info at a glance, if not in a nice format I can manipulate. Indeed, they kept their promise and the info duly arrived in an email this afternoon. (Excerpt:)

So great, I get the overview but I feel like I've wasted 30+ minutes on the phone today + goodness knows how much energy having to negotiate with them to get what should have been a quick and simple answer to a reasonable request.

Rubbish. Utterly rubbish. Particularly given that:

a) they completely screwed up the transition of my handset from Orange to T-Mobile and managed to disconnect me, and set up multiple accounts which then took numerous letters / phonecalls to sort out when I joined them in autumn 2007 (so you'd have thought they might have had a BE NICE TO THIS CUSTOMER WE'VE ALREADY UPSET HER ONCE flag on my account)

b) I've spent £1008.11 with them during the course of our 2 year relationship.That's a lot of money.

The question is where do I go now?

Everytime I've changed networks it's been a nightmare. Which is why I've only moved twice in 16 years of mobile ownership. I fell out with BT Cellnet (now 02) after a 9 year relationship because of lousy customer service. I fell out with Orange after a 5+ year relationship over lousy customer service. Now T-Mobile are likely to be added to the list forthwith. Which leaves me with Vodafone or 3 I guess, unless I'm prepared to give 02 another go, which by all accounts must be worthy of consideration from general feedback I hear from friends.

In an uber-competitive marketplace with lots of churn, being nice and delivering a good service is paramount. Brands/service providers need to remember that every interface a consumer has with their brand need to deliver, quickly, efficiently and leaving the consumer smiling about their experience. We live in a world where everyone is short of time all the time and time is money. Ease, speed and customer convenience rule. Dis-satisfaction now goes beyond a grumble around the dinner table, or amongst a few mates at the pub as Whirlpool also recently found to their cost in the US when power-blogger Dooce (no 40 in Technorati Top 100 bloggers, and with over 2000 blogs linking to it) decided to use her Twitter account to vent about poor service).

I may not have 1.2million followers on Twitter, but I have a fair few. I may not have anywhere near the number of readers of this blog that Dooce has, but I have a fair few, and not just in the UK either. I have almost 250 friends on Facebook and 120+ connections on LinkedIn. There's over 10k global members of the Yammer network at work, were I to choose to use it to air my views (which I won't, but...). Allowing for a bit of duplication that still means that I can reach a pretty significant number of people directly, in many markets T-Mobile operate in around the world, even without calculating how far the message of my disappointment with T-Mobile might spread there onwards.

So @Tmobileofficial I hope you are listening, and that you think about a) how easily and readily you make your customer's own account information available to your customers, and b) how important it is in a world where views can reach a very long way to play nicely and value your customerbase.

Rant over. I'll save my dis-satisfaction with AOL for another day.

Thank goodness for my friends-from-a-former-life-in-TV at Cartoon Network in New York who have just made me smile by a small gesture that was a delightful surprise. Thanks guys (and you know who you are), you ROCK.

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