Worst customer service: Lessons I learned from Vodafone

Bill Gates once said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Sadly, some companies, as they gradually transform into corporate behemoth, stop listening to their customers. They overlook the fact that the today’s customers are the informed lot who also have the power to air their opinions.

I have been into the profiles where the customer service has been the competitive advantage. I have learned to appreciate the customer as the savior of business. He is the one for whom business exists. I get utter shock when, as a customer, I find myself at the receiving end.

At the dawn of the New Year, I encountered the worst experience interacting with Vodafone, who vouches for the best customer service, but critically needs to bridge the gaping hole between its words and actions.

I switched to Vodafone Red4Business plan after one of their promotional calls by, probably, their desparate-to-sell-at-any-cost sales executive. I was offered 10000 minutes of local/national/roaming calls, 8GB data, and 1000 text messages for Rs. 1599. It was straight, simple, and easy to understand plan with no strings attached. At least, this was explained to me. It has been a great plan destroyed by apathetic professionals.

I jittered on receiving my first bill under this plan. I was charged for unspecified downloads like d2c_ndtv_valuepk_9 which was never downloaded by me (I even don’t know what it is or many other downloads like this). Moreover as per the plan, it should fall under the data limit of 8GB.

Shockingly, I was also charged for simple conference calls done from my android phone, although I was offered 10000 minutes free under the plan, and 70% of it still remained unused at the end of the month.

My interaction with customer service was equally appalling, as they don’t have any logical explanation except for two indifferent words – “company policy”; the most irksome for any customer to hear. Although they promised to reverse some part of overcharged amount but never promised the solution.

Probably, losing a customer or bad publicity has never been a concern for Vodafone.

Worst customer service2

I am still looking forward for answers to my queries. It’s more about attitude of listening to customers and helping them rather than about money.

As a marketing professional myself, I learned some priceless lessons on customer service from Vodafone professionals.

Lesson 1. Don’t lay promotional traps for your customers

Getting customers by divulging false or incomplete information is detrimental to business. This is nothing less than “bakra selling” in corporate parlance. No customer wants to become bakra of such offers explained by ill trained, desperate-to-sell executives.

Vodafone made bakra selling to me but it was short lived and they lost a loyal customer.

Lesson 2. Make customer service the most important part of your business

Nothing is more important than addressing the concern of a customer who once showed faith in your products and services. Customer service cell should have brightest of individuals who are well informed and vouch for customers happiness.

Customer service representative of Vodafone was grossly naïve with no logical explanation to my queries.

Lesson 3. Make your complaint management process customer friendly

The 90% of customers who left are not due to complaints itself, but poor complaint management procedures. You must be thankful to the customer who is coming to you and giving you a chance of retaining him. Many studies revealed that against one reported complaint, there are 8 unreported ones which are responsible for customers’ erosion without your knowledge.

“Company policy” were the words which put the final nail in the coffin. How does an unfriendly customer policy can convince a disgruntled customer like me?

Lesson 4. Assure your customers of future service

Along with satisfactory resolution of complaint, future promise is equally important. A reassurance of promised services can convert complainant to your advocate.

Vodafone executives grossly failed to reassure me of services in future. I am afraid, I can still be charged for illogical and mindless services.

Lesson 5. Listen to customers on forums and social media

Listen to the pulse of your customers. Internet and social media have become the strongest tool in the hands of today’s customers. Interact with them, empathize with them, and address their queries. These platforms can be the source for your next biggest strategic idea.

Google search returns numerous feedbacks and complaints of customers over a long period of time about Vodafone. To my utter surprise, Vodafone has been completely oblivious to all. No surprise that new customers like me are getting into the trap. Check these Search links: http://goo.gl/rmkq17, http://goo.gl/WLyV0S, http://goo.gl/KMrrRj. Vodafone’s apathy towards these feedbacks and complaints is shocking.

Its not my complaints which prompted me to do this article, but it has been the plight of many customers each one of whom has been paying hundreds and thousands of rupees to fill the coffers of Vodafone.

I am still groping for the answer, is it existing customer who is important to business or are they new customers who are critical. Contrary to the established facts, trapping new customers with dubious plans might be easier for Vodafone.

I hope someone from Vodafone is listening.

Do share this story as much as possible, at least for fellow customers.

Who knows, you might be the next target for “Bakra Selling”.

Hardeep Handa

Hardeep Handa

I am a seasoned marketing professional. I am ardent reader and avid writer. Management and technology equally excite me. I write regularly in my blog www.biztekmantra.com and www.virginwords.com

You may also like...