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Saturday, November 17, 2007

The problem with call centers

Since Wednesday, I was offline. After trying to connect, my DSL connection just did not respond. I checked all the cables because there could be some lose connection. I restarted but no response. It was only when I was about to call the customer service hotline, did I realize that my phone did not have a dial tone. Not again!

Without any other recourse, I had to use my prepaid cellular phone to call the hotline. Again, it took them too long before a customer service representative would answer my call! As usual, the CSR agent who got my call could not give any reason why our phone line was cut. Acting like robots, they told me they will report it to the technical team and wait for 24 hours before the line could be connected again. Since I was at their mercy, I asked for an update. The girl at the other end of the line told me they will.

I patiently waited. Twenty-four hours had passed. No dial tone. No updates. I was disgusted. My work relies heavily on the internet--I had to check my e-mails for some last-minute instructions from my client, do research on the topic I was writing on, and of course read and update my blogs. Twenty-four hours is 24 hours.

Losing my patience, I called again from my prepaid phone. Again, it took them too long to answer that I had to hang up before 1 minute is over. I finally succeeded after the 3rd call. Nonetheless, the CSR person who answered my call knows what she was doing. I just gave my number and my name and confirmed I am the account holder, and I told her I am following up on the line reconnection. She did not ask what my complaint was, but instead looked at the recent records and reiterated my complaint by updating me that there was a stolen cable somewhere near our area. However, the bad part is that she promised me again to wait after 24 hours. Okay. Fine with me. She was good in handling my call anyway.

On the 3rd day (Friday night), and taking off from the promise that our phone line would be reconnected within 24 hours, I called again. This time, I was no longer goody-goody with the CSR agent. Why?

She could not follow through my speaking speed (which is normal , and which was the speed I used with the previous CSR agents, and I do not even have an accent!)--

"Hello! This is ______, and my phone number is _____. I would like to follow up on the reconnection of my phone line."
It took me 3 times to say these lines! Finally, she got it and I told her I am calling to follow up on my earlier complaint. She asked me if I have a complaint number. I do have the complaint number but I had no time to look for it in my notes and because I was using a prepaid phone and I was running of load. In disgust, I told her,

"Can you not look for the records of my complaint at the computer infront of you? As far as I am concerned, I only have one complaint and that is about the reconnection of the phone line!"

She gave me a number of reasons which I did not bother to listen to. Instead, I barraged her with more complaints: that they told me they would reconnect my phone within 24 hours--and that they will update me but nothing of this happened within 24 hours--and now can she update me what happened?

"Sir, we will report this to the technical team," her lame reply.
Without any patience and kindness in my heart that time, I told her how many times should they have to report this complaint to the technical team and that I do not want to hear that crap because all I wanted to know is an update. Can she not give me an update of what is happening so I will know if I should permanently cut my subscription with them? Before she could answer, I also told her to stop telling me any memorized and standard reply because I am already pissed off with those replies. It was just so disappointing to know that they were only commissioned to take in complaints and nothing more, and that they do not have an idea on what is going on with the technical team.

Albeit seething with anger and disgust, I still managed to give them a piece of my mind. I told them that it is not my fault that their cables would be stolen. They should keep guard on their cables! What they should do is to ensure the continuity of their services for the people they vowed to serve. Second, they should have a strong feedback mechanism with the technical team so that they would not take all the flak from the irate customers like me. I even told her that since our conversation is recorded, let the company management hear it and begin improving the customer service by not just commissioning a complaint-taking services but include a service that will give an update on the complaints, or better yet, improve their internal customer-feedback mechanism. She wanted to say something but I did not want my prepaid load to go to waste, but instead, I emphasized in loud and exasperated voice: I just want my phone line back and I want to get an update at 10Am tomorrow.

Next day, Saturday, at 10AM, no dial tone. No feedback. I resigned my case. There was no point in arguing with CSR agents because they are only agents. Sometimes, private companies are even worse than the government.

At 6:30PM today, the line was restored. Somebody called me to check if the phone line was already okay. I said "yes", but I was not in the mood to express my gratitude. (Bad me!).

In the end, I pitied the CSR agent. It might be her first time to receive a call. And she could be in her probationary period. She might not get the permanent status and lose her job. I am sorry for that.

But then I stand by my irate behavior. I have the reason to get mad.

9 people have commented. Leave your comments too!:

Well, as a paying customer, you DO have the right to demand good service. The thing is, you pay for services with hard-earned money. The least the company can do is, of course, take your complaint seriously. It's not as if you're a freeloader. But since you're such a good guy, you even acknowledged the what-ifs to explain the CSR agent's side.

Hehe, is the company Bayantel by any chance? Because this post reminds me of my self giving a hard time to Bayantel CSRs. I also felt sorry for the girl that I shouted at but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Cez, I always complain about their services and their customer service...If they would make a tally of all complainants, I think I would be on the top of their list. Hehe.

That is true, Bill. The irony with these call centers is the fact that they act so high-strung that it is so hard to apply for a job in their companies. As if sila lang ang may alam ng customer service. In the end, they should beef up their services to be at par with the expectations of customers like us.

Gee, I was about ready to comment your blog by taking potshots at PLDT (calling it Philippines Long Delay Telephone) when I learned that this is Bayantel's CSR.

Isn't there ANY decent phone services in the Philippines?

Kris, they always have reasons for not doing their job well. btw, my telephone/DSL provider is neither PLDT nor Bayantel.

I would not mention it because they might sue me. You know, libel ek-ek. Haha.


you're lucky it only took you a few days. our line was dead for more than a week! 9 days to be exact. and the same runaround routine with the call center ensued.

you know how we got it fixed? a serviceman from the phone company was fixing a line at a house in the next block and we forced him to fix our line. at first he refused, saying that he didn't have a service order for our account. but we were adamant! we even informed the village security no to let him out unless he does the job. I was already fuming by that time. natakot siguro.

i have friends who are call center agents...but as a consumer/customer, i really dislike talking to CSRs...they don't provide support...actually, they don't really care about your problem, they just utter scripts and promises since you'll get to talk to another agent anyway if you ever call back to follow up...

i miss the days when companies have specific contact persons instead of automatic rerouting of calls...because with contact persons, you can bug them until you get results ;)

I agree with you. companies must also have direct replies on matters like this.

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