Wait and Wait – Is Support via Chat a Good Approach?

More and more companies try to extend their customer support interfaces to various channels. It is no longer just customer support hotline, or email, chat is becoming another popular choice. The typical approach is to use so called ‘virtual agent’ which are typically implemented by certain machine learning / AI based solution as first contact point. However, after I tried to solve my issues from two companies via chat support, I started to wonder whether chat support is a good option?

My first case is quite simple, as I moved to a new address, I needed to update my addresses in various place. Most of the updates were quite simple. via companies’ website or app. Some requested supporting documents which is topic worth another post. However, for one insurance company, there is no online or app option to update address. So, I decided to contact their support. And Chat over Whatsapp is provided as one option.

My first request was sent in early June, interestingly, there was no reply at all. As I was busy and I did not pay much attention until I received a letter from the same company but sent to my old address ( I engaged mail redirection service, so my mail to the old address would be sent to my current address). I double checked my Whatsapp, no, there was no message after my question.

In the morning of next day, I asked again via WhatsApp channel. Great, I received ‘Hi’. I indicated that I would like to update my address. But there was no response. After 5 minutes, I pinged again, and the response came only 6 minutes later. The long wait started again after I supplied the info required for verification. After waiting more than 30 minutes with no response, I decided to pick up the phone and called their service hotline. However, the hotline agent could not help. It seemed that the job is just to answer the call and promised call back, as mentioned, the support volume was high and there were delay in response.

My second case is quite similar. I also requested support via WhatsApp channel and I encountered similar situation where there were long delay between my questions/responses and the updates from the support agents. The reason: high volume of demands.

Here are my guesses:

  1. each agent handles not just one customer, he or she probably support multiple customers concurrently.
  2. if so, he / she needs to work “multi-tasking” and keep track the discussions / story lines from different customers
  3. if so, he / she needs times to switch from one thread to another

And from customer perspective, the long delays in conversations destroyed customer experience completely, especially when the delay is not just one or two minutes, but a few ten minutes or even longer.

At initial thought, support via chat seems to be a clever approach, there is no longer long wait over phone support, it could support more requests concurrently and the virtual agent may be resolve some problems and reduce the load of human agent. However, if it is designed and implemented properly, it will be a disaster for customer expereince.

Finally, My broadband is working!

It was the day of the appointment.   Based on input received from the service appointment,  I should expected visits from two parties:

  •  Engineer from service provider who is to provision ONR (Optical Network Router) 
  • Contractor from optical fiber infrastructure provider to check and fix the problem.
The appointment was scheduled between 11am and 1pm of the day.  I was waiting, waiting and received a phone call from the engineer closed to 1pm.  The  engineer mentioned that he would be late. I asked him whether he got any update from the optical fiber vendor.  To my surprise, he had no idea but he promised to contact the customer service (from Serivce provider) to check. 

The clock was clicking.. and 1pm passed.   Since nobody showed up, I decided to give the service provider a call as they were supposed to be interface betrween me and optical fiber contactor.

What surprised me was that the service provider itself had no clue on whether any action had been taken by the optical fiber contract. They claimed that they had escalated the issue and no update was received.

When I was thinking that I might have to wait for a few more days, door bell rang! The engineer from service provider was at the door.  I told him that optical fiber contractor had not shown up.  He had decided to give it a try anyway.

What happened next seemed to be a miracle.  The engineer measured the link signal quality. Wowlah! it was normal!  The engineer speculated that the fiber optical contractor might have done something already without updating me (as end user) or them.   The following steps were smooth sailing.   Finally, after two weeks pause,  my broadband service finally works.

Let us review what make me, as end user, not so happy:

  • Unbelievable 2 weeks break – who can image no broadband service for so long in a modern city.  I had to depends on my mobile data with extra data purchased. 
  • no prompt update to end user. Everytime, I had to call in to find out the status.  To be fair, there were follow up calls to address my questions. 
  • no clear communcation between the service providers and optical fiber contractor.  I had to find out what was going on.. which ws still not clear to me. 


Why the Delay?

Yes, this site has been quiet since last August, even my last post asking for patience.

A lot has happened:

  1. I lost my regular work due to company cost cutting at the end of Sep/2023
  2. I had to spend more time searching for new opportunities, which is still ongoing.
  3. moved back to my old flat, – which I had to renovate, repaint. even though it was not done by me but engaged contractor. still a time-consuming work.
  4. ……

will be back soon…

What happened after I terminated my home broadband (part 2)

After receiving the response from Green, I decided to wait.. But interestingly, I received another reminder from Green mentioned that they would close the case no response from me received.

Since, I still hope there would be improvement in their service, I decided to reply them with my suggestion – why not stopping the bill generation if the service is terminated.

To my surprise, I received a reply within a day – the bill was already generated even before I terminated the service , OK, why it could not be cancelled and generate a new bill?

What happened after I terminated my home broadband..

I was using the home broadband service from operator Green (not its real name ūüôā ) for many years. And finally, I decided to make a change.

At the day after my home broadband service contract ended. I bought modem ( as mentioned in its web site, I need to return the modem, including cables) to its physical shop. The process was quite smooth besides the waiting time estimation from the system was not close how long I was actually waiting.

I thought my relationship with Green would be closed besides the last bill from it. But, the bill I ” received” shocked me:

  1. it still bills me for almost next one more month of service which I would not use (I terminated service and returned equipment)
  2. no indication what was to happen next.
  3. my credit card was billed

First reaction – something wrong? So I picked up the phone and called the customer support:

  1. the agent was trying to convince me that the bill was for last month’s service, not the next month – but that was complete different from service period stated in the bill
  2. the agent seemed to agree with me eventually, but failed to provide any reasonable explanation.
  3. I requested a discussion with next level manager/support. But the agent told me there was no guarantee that someone would call me back..

I decided to wait… and waited for 3 days.. No call.

I had to search their website and find out another channel – leave a message. I did so

What surprised me is that I received an update during the weekend, the next day after I left a message there. Based on what stated there, they could only finalize the bill after 1 or 2 billing cycle and necessary adjustment would be make (credit).

I assume that I have no other options but to wait, but I believe there are many things to improve:

  1. according to the bill I managed to find, the bill was generated 3 days after I terminated the service – would it take days to update billing info?
  2. there is no explanation in the bill or email to advise what shall expect after I terminate a service
  3. the agent was not fully aware the content either

I, as customer, spend a lot of time to understand what happen. the operator Green also spend a lot resources to address this unnecessary problem.

still thinking whether I will use Green next round..

Confused? yes, but why a company is trying to confuse the customers?

Buying a mobile phone online was supposed to a simple task Рcompare and select different model, make payment and wait for delivery.  However, my recent experience seems to tell a different story.

After  researches over Internet, I finally select a model from a top phone producing company.  And there was ongoing promotion Рbesides offer free enhanced support services, it also offered free shopping voucher.

So, that is where the confusion starts:

  1. as usual,¬† it stated that the promotion (voucher) “while stock lasts…”. I could understand that company will like to protect itself. but from customer perspective, he/she could feel cheated if voucher is part of the purchase
  2. after I added phone to the check out cart, the voucher is not there..  so, will I get voucher?
  3. Order was submitted, phone was delivered after a few days, but there is still no news about the voucher – no email no update…
  4. what shall I do?   I had to call their support line.  well, probably resolved, the agent provided a specific link to submit the redemption request.

so why the company did not what to provide a pleasant purchase journey?

  1. provide an update information whether the voucher is still available during the the check out phase?
  2. if the voucher is still available, why it was not stated clearly purchase order?
  3. why the redemption process was not sent to customer directly?

One possible reason is that the company want to protect itself from possible fraud?¬† ¬†however, the harm it does is probably larger than the value of fraud it protected.¬† ¬†The company shall consider different approach….

Welcome to 2022!

A new year comes – Year 2022!

the world is still suffering from the COVID-19.   People, no matter where they are. adjusting their ways of working and living.. and this leads to the changes of interactions between people, people and entities,  which could be government agencies,  commercial organization,  non-profit organization and more.  This change will bring the changes to experience,  and customer experience.

the term customer is no longer just defined from commercial business content.   It should be applicable to all the interactions between entities.  and the parties that receiving certain benefits as the result of effort, goods, delivered by another parties (is this the right definition> )

As I have been occupied by many topics both from personal life as well as work life,  I did not spend much time in the year 2021 in updating this small web site.  I hope, I am able to spend more time in the year 2022 in this!

thank you!

Covid

COVID has impacted most part of the globe for more than one year.   the world is not longer the same as it was more  one and half year ago, so does how business is conducted.

As the physical contact is restricted,  that impacts how customer is interacting with the businesses and how businesses are to address the new demands from customers.

by default, online seems to be first¬† option.¬† ¬†That actually raises the bar on how the business could be leverage online presence and interaction channels.¬† the business has to consider how to leverage various technology options and provide customer omni-channel experience and ensure the smooth handover from different touch point.¬† ¬† Many businesses have been considering this.¬† ¬†But the emergency of Covid has actually accelerated the process –¬† you have to do it in order to survive.

This is no only just technology change, but complete business model revisit and refresh or probably reset and restart!

Where is my credit card points (part 2)

After waited for 2 days, I received a call the card issuer.  They agreed to reinstate my point with only 3 months life-span.

Well,  that is OK, finally I could get them back.

if we think about the whole process.  there are inconsistences in their service touch points.

What are goods:

  1. their customer service staff was very patient and helpful.
  2. they responded relative fast and  call me back and update me the outcome.

what did not go well:

  1. confusing of different point life term for different credit card points
  2. no clear update of expiring points
  3. confusing life span of the point – 5 year in a block?
  4. non-consistent in their web portal Рthe card service and reward point seems to be run by different teams Рdifferent design style, different looks and feel,  customers have to switch in between Рnot a smooth process.

hope this is the last time..

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