Is it the lower ‘customer cost’ over digital service channels that shows lack of good customer experience by brands?

As a Customer Experience professional, I am extremely sensitive to Customer Service failings. Had a few in the last weeks and decided to write about them.

Working in the Customer Experience industry, I see the desire to push toward Digital service – either as email, or via Social Media. From a Customer perspective, these channels are low-cost. By this, I mean that it does not cost R1,20 per minute to send an email, or send a Tweet.

I have experienced lackluster support over email and Twitter that tells me that brands want Customers to call in to the Call Centre. That’s not always any better from a service perspective either. Here are a few support experiences I’ve had over the last few days:

Firstly, I struggled with something at F Bank. Their iPad app keeps crashing when I look at my credit card statements, and they have not reacted to my comments on the Apple App store alerting them. Last week, I recorded a video and tweeted their social media account. The response was a ridiculous number of hours later, and directed me to call their App team. Honestly, I expected them to own the issue and direct it internally, not make it my problem.

Secondly, I use V Cellular as my cellular provider. I am also an ex-employee and know a little about how their systems and processes work. I find their website functionality does not cater for many of my ‘advanced’ needs. As an example, I cannot get call sponsor configuration working, or I cannot pay my contract account online to benefit from credit card reward program benefits. There is still a big issue with the incorrect balances being shown. When I call in, I am asked the ‘idiot’ questions – despite having a profile as technical and knowledgeable. This is not understood. For a few months, we have had issues with the OneNet service and have sent multiple emails (these have been mostly ignored) and called into the Call Centre, getting transferred between different areas (I counted 6 transfers on a single call) while nobody can figure things out. The free cost of calling Support does not compensate for the high levels of frustration that I experience as a customer.

Thirdly, I called GD hosting and waited about 20 minutes for the call to be answered. While waiting, I tweeted about my experience and was offered some assistance pretty quickly a few hours later. I appreciate that GD allows the option to wait in the telephone queue without any music. They actually provide the option in the IVR “Interactive Voice Response” system to choose not to have any music. While waiting the 20 minutes, this is actually very useful, when trying to concentrate on something else. After reaching an Agent, it still took another 30 minutes or so to have the query dealt with. To be fair, the Agent was great, but I couldn’t help thinking of the total cost of support as measured by the cost-per-minute for the call, as well as the likely irritation level of other customers behind me in the queue, now waiting their own 20 minutes or more in queue for service.

Support over Digital channels still has a long way to go. The response time needs to be as immediate over email as it is over a telephonic conversation. The longer the status quo – as shown in the above examples – prevails, it sends a message out that brands want customers to call the Call Centre and not interact over their channel of choice. Multichannel, omnichannel, and digital strategies are not working effectively for some of the biggest brands in South Africa. While these brands continuously measure and analyse transaction codes and reasons from Call Centre statistics, and look for ways to reduce both the frequency and cost to serve, the efforts to do so will not pay off if there is a lack of organisational will to react with suitable digital functionality and interaction speed that allows customers (like me) to help themselves. So I question what actually drives the lack of urgent, strategic attention and timeous, operational response to customers in digital. So far, my experiences have been astonishingly lame.