Follow-up on Destroying Customer Value: @Telfort is listening..

Last week’s post Destroying Customer Value was in it’s essence not about getting attention from the Telco company involved (being Telfort).

Fortunately @Telfort is listening in on-line for nearly two years now (I think). They even have a service blog (Dutch only; which turned into another marketing channel after they solved a huge backlog in complaints in 2009. But that’s another story)

So, @Telfort engaged in the comments of my last post, asking me to message them my wife’s phone number, which I did the same day. One day later or so, they promised to get in touch with my wife “as soon as possible”.

Not an “official channel”

“As soon as possible” took a bit long, so I pinched them. They sent me back quite an “odd” message, saying:

“I understand your concern, but everything will be alright. Because we are not an official channel we do not work with fixed turn-around times”

I felt the urge of sending them a message back telling them I really did not care about how “official” or not the channel is. I am (or my wife is actually) a very official Customer and I want to be kept in the loop on what’s happening, or at least some kind of notice when “asap” is..

But I didn’t. Thinking I might as well let them know in my follow-up post ;)

Another two days passed without any signs of life, so I pinched them again with a tweet last Friday. I got a quick reply, that they send my wife a letter the day before. In less than an hour I actually found the letter in our mail-box.

The official response

The letter is a typical complaints handling letter. Kind opening, stating the facts and mostly how they are entitled (legally) to do what they did and then some.. I noticed one rather important element we (my wife and I) did not know or forgot:

In the letter Telfort mentioned that my wife actually bought a 1 year subscription two years ago with the reduced price-offer. And that Telfort decided to extend the reduced offer for another year. They made it clear that they notified my wife in advance via text-message and some other channels too. I did not check, I believe them when they say so in a letter carefully drafted with legal eyes ;)

Now, this is important, for this means that Telfort wanted us to know that they extended the reduced price for another year when they thought it was good news to us, yet in the exact same situation, but for the fact that the reduced price is no longer extended, they did not go through the trouble of letting us know.

Kudos to Telfort

Fortunately Telfort also understands this was not the right way to do it. Subsequently, at the end of the letter, they apologized (apology accepted) for not notifying my wife in advance when the reduced price expired. On top of that they also promised to reduce my wife’s invoices for the excessive amounts, prior to her switching to a new offer.

And, kudos to Telfort, they thanked my wife for being a loyal Customer, choosing Telfort again.

3 final questions and one tip for Telfort

My wife is happy now, and thus, so am I. I do have some questions though I hope Telfort will answer for me here, or on their service blog:

  1. Was not notifying my wife in advance a (incidental) service failure or is there no such policy in place?
  2. If there is no such policy in place, will there be in the near future?
  3. If not, why not?

On top of this: Telfort, please take a little more time to pro-actively inform your Customers of what you are doing, and how much time it will probably take. I also think it makes sense to not just drop a letter in a mailbox. It only takes a phone-call, prior to posting the letter, to understand whether the proposed recovery is a suitable one. In this case it was, but what if it wasn’t?

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5 responses to “Follow-up on Destroying Customer Value: @Telfort is listening..

  1. I’m eager to see if they’ll answer your 3 questions … Will this story be yet-another-glitch in their routine business-as-usual life, or will be the “Aha” moment of truth …

    By the way, have you heard what happened to Mobistar (a Belgian phone carrier, notoriously bad on customer service)? If not, check this out : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxXlDyTD7wo

  2. Heer Rampen,

    Allereerst danken wij u voor de tip en zullen deze zeker meenemen bij de bepaling van het beleid.

    Hieronder staat het antwoord op uw vragen.

    1) Op dit moment is het beleid dat klanten niet proactief benaderd worden. We hebben dat een tijd gedaan maar niet iedere klant stelde dat op prijs. Telfort heeft daarna besloten hiervan af te zien. Klanten krijgen hun bevestiging via een brief en kunnen via de factuur of Mijn Telfort zien wanneer ze kunnen verlengen (vernieuwen). Er was dus geen sprake van een incidentele fout of een storing;

    2) Het is op dit moment niet te zeggen of Telfort dit beleid in de toekomst weer gaat wijzigen.

    3) Een persoonlijke (telefonische) benadering heeft zijn voordelen maar dit kost tijd en levert niet in alle gevallen direct contact op (als iemand niet bereikbaar is). Telfort kiest er om die reden voor om via andere kanalen de klant te benaderen. Op de Telfort website is mede daarom het platform Mijn Telfort ingericht, zodat onze klanten een persoonlijke omgeving hebben waar ze zelf veel zaken kunnen regelen en deze informatie op te vinden is.

    Telfort Webcare

    ===> translation to English added by Wim Rampen

    Mr Rampen,

    First, we thank you for the tip and we will certainly consider it in determining policy.

    Here is the answer to your questions.

    1) At present the policy is that customers are not being approached pro-actively. We’ve done that some time but found that not every customer appreciated it. Telfort has since decided to abandon it. Clients receive their confirmation via a letter and can see on the invoice or online, in the “My Telfort” environment, when they can extend (renew). As such, there was no occasional error or a failure;

    2) It is not currently impossible to say whether Telfort will change this policy again in the future.

    3) A personal (telephone) call has its advantages but it takes time and does not always result in a direct contact (if someone is not available). Therefor Telfort has chosen other channels for customers to approach. On our website Telfort Customer can access a private “My Telfort” environment where they can take care of many things to arrange themselves and where this information can be found.

    Telfort Webcare

    • Thx for replying to my questions.

      I do understand your position, although I doubt Telfort changed the policy because not all Customers appreciated it. I think it is a commercial decision not to do so, because of a couple of reasons:
      – It’s cheaper not to
      – Why alert Customers that they are going to pay more. There are always Customers who do not notice (for some time) and that’s just extra cash for Telfort.

      I also agree Telfort has the right to do so, and do agree that there are multiple ways for Customers to keep track of their status. And of course this is not the sole responsibility of Telfort (but also not the sole responsibility of the Customer!)

      BUT,

      my main argument of this endeavor is it probably makes economic sense to inform Customers in advance. This makes sense because:
      – Any gain (of not informing) will likely be temporal
      – If taken into account the costs of managing complaints, information calls to the call center and alike, much of these gains could already be absorbed. In a case of reimbursement, like mine, there is no gain, just additional costs.
      – On top of that, really a lot more people have read the original post than this follow-up post and comments. Bad service stories travel better than good ones.. resulting in lower likelihood to recommend etc etc ..

      Summing it up: I hope Telfort will really consider all sides of the cost-value equation, looking beyond the 1 on 1 relationship and looking beyond the direct (assumed) benefits..

      If you need any help building that business case, I can help ;)

      Thx again for being part of the dialog. Much appreciated!

      Wim

      • Wim how would you rate the whole experience start to finish? Obviously the results were mixed, but they were partially responsive, would you say they recaptured any of the value you mentioned in your original post?

  3. So it IS a litlle glitch in their routine, and they missed the “Aha moment”

    And basically, they monitor what’s being said on them on the Net, but they’re not ready to listen and act …. even when it is a specialist telling them (for free!) how they should go about it …

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