WARNING: THIS IS A RANT
A few weeks ago, in fact our very first post, we wrote about the trials and tribulations of getting a mobile phone when you land in a new country. The main challenge was a lack of a local bank account when we first arrived, almost a year ago.
Unfortunately, while sorting our banking details allowed us change our pre-paid plans to a proper contract, this wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. For starters, the associate who helped us made it seem like he was doing us a huge favor. The challenge, it was explained to us, was our lack of credit history in the UK. Doh! How can you expect someone who just got off a plane to have a credit history in a new country?
After a little cajoling that verged on begging, we got our phones switched to contracts against a substantial deposit. Of course, there was an issue with one of them whose new SIM card wasn’t activated for almost two weeks. But let’s forget about that, at least for the time being. There was also another charge to enable the phones to make international calls and send or receive texts internationally. Since one of us was going back to the US, we decided to only enable international calls and texts on the phone that was remaining here.
But now that the move is finally complete, we needed to enable the other phone to be used for international communications. We, after all, have family and friends in both the US and Europe, and keeping in touch is essential.
After some procrastination, yesterday we finally cancelled our US phone contracts, making it more important for both of us to have access to international communications on our UK phone. So after being unsuccessful in doing this online, we tried calling the phone carrier. First, the IVR (the virtual menu that asks you what you’re looking for in order to aide you and — hopefully — connect you with the right person) was lengthy and difficult to navigate. When we finally managed to find the option to connect us with a live person, the wait was so long that we ended up hanging up.
One thing we understand is that manning a contact center is extremely expensive. This is exactly why organizations have been trying to invest in alternative means to deliver customer service, including social care. And many consumers tend to prefer self service, leaving the option of talking to a live person as a last resort. Yet, sometimes this is a necessity, and making it difficult to actually do so is the epitome of a bad customer experience.
Yes, contact center calls are among the most expensive types of customer service. But losing a customer is even more costly to companies. While a single inconvenience might not be enough to drive us to switch one or both of our lines to another carrier, these can add up until something small will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
For now, we’ll just have to add a visit to one of the carrier’s storefronts among our weekend plans. Not something we’re looking forward to, but unfortunately it’s an unavoidable inconvenience.