How may I avoid helping you?

Image from FlickR Courtesy of Daniel*1977

I’ve had a couple of experiences this week with telecoms firms and they’ve provided me with interesting examples of service and the use of social media.

The first was BT.  I recently moved to them as my internet provider from AOL and have noticed a slow service on Sunday evenings.  It’s frustrating as nthey reached speeds as low as 0.6Mbps.  That’s almost as slow as my old dial up service; my mobile 3G service is faster.  I tweeted about it to their twitter account and had a reply from BT the next morning via Twitter.  Then they called me that afternoon.  And followed it up with an email.

They’ve not fixed the problem; I’m writing this on a Sunday evening and it’s still less than 1Mbps. I do, however, have confidence that the instructions they gave me in their email will help.  More importantly, I’m sure that if I need to speak to them again they’ll listen.

Mirror this experience with T-mobile.  They have cancelled my son’s mobile number and SIM card because he didn’t use his phone.  It’s an emergency device, a phone for those critical circumstances when he has to get in touch with someone.  He had an experience like that this week but, since he hasn’t used his phone, they cancelled it.  They’ve kept his credit too and want to charge for a new SIM card AND a new top up.

Expecting T-mobile to be as effective in their comms as BT, I tweeted about my frustration with their telephone helpline last Thursday evening. Although my tweet was ‘out of hours’ (like my BT tweet) I didn’t get any reply from T-Mobile UK’s official Twitter support team until late the next day, asking me to follow them and DM the details.  I did as they asked and then…silence.

I finally got a Twitter reply on Sunday afternoon quoting a policy that 2 staff had done separately on the phone on Thursday evening.  I understand it is:

Policy in line with other mobile providers to… cancel a number after 270 days (9 months) of not making any chargeable call or sending a text

What I don’t understand is why they don’t warn a user that they’re cancelling an account without a warning text or automated call.  I get enough spammy texts from my provider offering me service I don’t want…is it too much to expect a text service that you DO need?

My experience with BT was as simple as raising my hand; with T-mobile it feels like I was shouting down a well.

Is social media a channel for engagement with your customers?  I don’t quite get why it seems as if T-Mobile are using their Twitter stream purely to filter out queries and slow complaints down; is it to alleviate the customer interaction with their service centres?

I’d be interested, as always, to hear your thoughts.

UPDATE

(Friday am) I posted this on Monday and have had a further email from BT since and 2 calls to fix the issue.  I’ve also had 4 messages from T-mobile. All DM, all requoting the same info above, no email contact, no response to a letter by post, no phone calls.  Who wins?

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