Listen. You’re Not Hearing Me.

February 5, 2009


robell-phonesBy Michael Tatham Jr., President, The Tatham Group




Good morning. So and so speaking, how can I help you?

I have a problem with my wireless service. Insert any problem.

Can I have your account information?

Give account details.

Now, what was the problem you are having?

Restate problem.

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

Spend 30 minutes trying to convince them otherwise and when frustrated ask to speak to a manager.

Of course. One moment please.

Wait on hold for 20 minutes.

Good morning.So and so speaking, can I get your account information?

Restate account information.

How can I help you?

Restate problem.

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

This is a reasonable request. If you can’t help me I’m going to have to switch providers.

OK. Should we cancel your account or just suspend it until you get the same service elsewhere and come back to us?

If this is familiar to you, you must be Canadian and a victim of the RoBell dilemma.

What is the RoBell dilemma?

The RoBell dilemma is when a customer has had bad experiences or been treated poorly by not one but both of Canada’s telecommunications giants – Rogers and Bell Canada. As a customer, you find yourself with only one choice – if you aren’t satisfied with your customer service at Bell then you switch to Rogers and vice versa.The problem with this oligopoly is that both companies appear to have gotten comfortable having such a large share of the market with no consequences for bad customer service.It is very frustrating when you weigh your options and make a decision where to place your business based on which company treats you the least badly.

Getting the wrong processes right.

In fact, there are so many cases of customers flipping back and forth that both companies have streamlined the transfer process to make it easier for the customer to change over.What a bizarre process to get right. Let me help you leave my company instead of hearing your problem, making it right and ensuring it never happens again.But if either company is going to be a great company for it’s customers it needs to do more than just fix complaints and appease disgruntled callers with special offers.That is reactive and typical.They must focus in on the core of their business – providing services to their customers – and make sure that they create superior value to their customer.This is especially important to do when business is going well and there is a high demand for your offering. Before they complain and run to the other guy.

Where do you start?

It’s simple. Make it easy for your customers to be your customers.And guess what? You don’t need a room full of consultants to point it out for you by talking to your customer service representatives or mapping your business processes in minute detail. All you need to do is start by talking to your customers again.Listen. And hear them. Don’t send out questionnaires or get someone who doesn’t work for your company to phone in with a script.Have a conversation, heart-to-heart, fireside chat, you get the idea.Relate to your customers and they will help you be a better company. And I personally can’t wait to be the customer of whichever company ‘gets it’ first.

Anybody have experiences like this?Thoughts?



  • trike

    I agree. I think I can speak for most people I know in that customer service definately sucks when you deal with companies via telephone. Although, I find when communicating over the telephone with major corporations or institutions, they do not really care deep down because of the larger issue at hand, money. These companies still generate vast sums of money, and one “little” customer switching services doesn’t affect them. Now, if companies could get out and hire more people to conduct such research/customer satisfaction, then I believe the whole course of customer service will be altered for the better. Not only are you creating more jobs, especially in the crisis that we are experiencing, but you are going to generate more profit from satisfying your customers/clients.