How companies respond to moments of truth says all there is to say about the company and its orientation towards customers. This is where the talk of customer focus, customer experience, and customer-centricity is actually put to the test by the customer. I have done some work in the telecommunications industry and I can tell you that device or service failure shows up as a moment of truth for many customers. When the customer relies on his phone and it no longer works that is a big deal for her. When the customer relied on his broadband connection and it fails that is big deal for him. Correct?
Yesterday, my broadband connection failed and stayed that way for several hours. I searched through the Sky paperwork to find a customer services number. I didn’t find any as Sky have made a conscious choice not to print that number on their invoices/statements. Instead, the paperwork only shows the URL for the support section of the Sky website. That would have been useful if and only if my broadband was working!
Thankfully, I had a smartphone and Google handy. So within a few minutes I found a contact number and called Sky. A couple of minutes after this I was speaking to friendly woman at Sky. After 10 – 20 minutes on the phone, answering her questions and following her instructions, she told me that the broadband router was faulty. I was grateful to her as she had been patient and left me with the impression that she was committed to helping me out.
What was my expectation at this point given that I have been a customer for at least two years? I was expecting the woman to say “I will send you a new router and it will be with you tomorrow morning. And, I’m sorry that our router failed and you are without broadband.” That kind of response would have shown up as customer-centric. That kind of response would have generated forgiveness on the one hand and gratitude on the other hand. That kind of response would have left me feeling good about being a Sky customer. That kind of response would have resulted in a different ending to the post.
What actually happened? The woman from Sky told me that I would have to pay £35 for a new router. Why? Because I was no longer on a twelve month contract. Or I could sign another twelve month contract.
This was the first time that I considered cancelling the Sky broadband service. Why? Because I was offended. Because it occurred as Sky taking advantage of me when I was down. Because, I asked myself “Where is the loyalty for me sticking with Sky for over two years?” I calmed myself down and made the choice to enter into a new twelve month agreement.
Once we had come to this agreement, the woman from Sky told me that the router would be delivered within 3 to 5 days. I was shocked. So I blurted out something like “Is there any way you can get this out to me tomorrow? Amazon does this. Surely, you can do the same.” She asked me to hold whilst she looked into it. After looking into it she told me that the best response Sky could offer was 3 – 5 days. And that she would ring me no Saturday to make sure that my issue was solved. I thanked her and ended the call.
What is the lesson here? It doesn’t matter how great the people in your call-centres are if your business policies , practices, and processes are not designed to deliver on the customer needs at the moments of truth.
As I reflect on this experience I cannot help but compare how Apple showed up when my daughter had a problem with her iPod.