August 31, 2015 § 23 Comments
Oh, Vodacom. I had such high hopes for you. I thought that you cared about your image, your reputation, the perception out there in the marketplace.
But your behaviour seems to show the opposite, and now I’m not sure what to think.
You see, Vodacom, you may or may not have noticed that there are a lot of customers out there who are unhappy with the way their data usage has suddenly, overnight, without explanation or warning or a change in their phone or other device habits, escalated to completely unreasonable levels.
I too, had some data disappear mysteriously from my iPad – the one with the cell signal switched off. Like, completely off, which is when I decided to conduct a little experiment. But let me not repeat myself. I screenshotted the tweets I sent to you over a week ago. Here’s the first one (and do read from the bottom up, or they will make no sense).
I think I’m quite good at storytelling, don’t you? But wait! There’s more! Here’s the next screenshot – again, read from the bottom. (I’m only explaining because I don’t want you to miss anything.)
This caused something of a flurry. I got a call from your social media person, a lovely woman who assured me you would be ‘escalating’ my query. And that it was something of a mystery that my data had dropped slightly, especially since I turned my cell data off as I went to bed on 31 July and cleared and rebooted everything. Look, here’s an updated screenshot – explain that? I have not turned the cell signal back on since that night.
And I’m waiting with bated breath to see if my data really does carry over for one month as the person who sold me the SIM card in your Vodashop told me it would. Tomorrow’s going to be so exciting!
But I digress. Back to your lovely social media person. She admitted it was a mystery. She promised me she would ‘escalate’ my query and make it a priority. She sent me a reference number. But what perturbed me was how she sometimes said, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you…” Are your staff members normally not honest with customers? Is that how you train them? To spin the bad news? To put the blame back on the customer?
Oh no, wait! That’s you! Because a few days later you helpfully put out this information. There was a more direct article posted by you, but I can’t find it now. And I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I call bullshit. Because it doesn’t really explain my (admittedly small) data loss. It doesn’t explain how a friend managed to use 1GB of data while his phone was off and in a safe, and he was on an operating table having surgery. It doesn’t explain my boss’s exorbitant data bill on a device that was lying at home for a weekend. So you’ll pardon me if I don’t buy the ‘no buffering and LTE’ explanation.
But what’s possibly more concerning is the disregard you show your customers. And it’s not just me who thinks so. Here’s another screen shot of just some of the responses I got to my original tweet tirade. There are lots more, but it would be quite boring to post them all here. I’m sure you get the idea.
Because you know that ‘priority’, ‘escalated’ query I got a reference number for eight days ago? Not a peep. Haven’t heard a word. Imagine the poor bastards who didn’t get escalated, prioritised queries. How long has it been? Are their dessicated skeletons sitting by the phone still waiting for you to deliver basic customer service? Or have they called you and simply been fobbed off by a carefully crafted, patronising call centre script?
My dear friend and PR maven Keri-Ann Stanton has suggested we mobilise (see what I did there?) South African citizens to have a data-free day. I’m seriously considering it. Have you worked out how much money you’d lose if a big number of us turned our data off for a day? Oh wait! It wouldn’t make a difference, because we lose data when our phones are off anyway! Silly me.
But anyhoo, I’m a solutions girl, so I thought I’d help you with your communication. Because you seem to be struggling in this area. (Oh, the irony – what is it that telecomms do again?)
- There’s a difference between polite and patronising. Customers can tell the difference, and we know when we’re the victim of spin.
- If your improved service (greater speed, LTE, etc) is going to have an impact on people’s data usage, don’t you think it would be courteous to inform them? (If that is, indeed, the reason. I’m still not convinced given that data disappears on devices that are switched off.)
- Stop using words like ‘escalate’ (vomit) and ‘prioritise’ if your plan is to ignore customer complaints in the hope they’ll get tired and go away. (They might. I won’t.)
- Talk to people as if they’re people. And don’t turn around and blame us when there’s a problem. Because really, all the indications are that there’s been a problem and that you guys are covering it up.
- Give us some credit for being vaguely intelligent, sentient human beings.
- Get back to people within a reasonable time frame. Eight days is not a reasonable time frame.
- How about you give us the itemised billing version of data use? I bet it’s possible. This is the age of technology!
- Take responsibility, be accountable, be transparent – you know, all those things we complain about from government. You’re really not doing any better, and we all know that’s not a compliment.
- Nothing will garner customers’ loyalty like a service provider that listens, and does the right thing. Not the thing the accountants and actuaries advise.
I think that’s enough for now. I don’t want to tax your thought processes too much. I know you need them to come up with more spin.
But it’d be nice if you actually got back to me sometime before Christmas on my escalated, prioritised query. Think you can manage that?
Please note: Large portions of this blog post have been typed in sarcasm font.