Category Archives: virgin mobile

Customer experience needs to be holistic

Organisations must take a holistic approach to customer experience, otherwise they run the risk that their weakest link will undermine the investments they have made in other areas.

Although products and customer touchpoints (such as call centres, websites and high street stores) have seen substantial investments over recent years, many organisations are not addressing non-customer facing aspects of their operations that have a significant impact on the customer experience.

Following a customer activity in to the organisations systems and processes

A few times I’ve been engaged by clients to follow key customer activities through an organisations systems to look for inefficiencies and opportunities for improving the customer experience.

It is fascinating to see how following a simple customer activity, such as opening a new bank account, reveals issues such as the incompatability of back-end systems, double-handling of data, etc – all of which result in delays in a customers ability to open a new account, and an unnecessary opportunity for errors to creep in to the process.

Virgin Mobile and the iPhone

These thoughts were sparked off by a visit to my local Virgin Mobile store. I have been trying for a number of weeks to get a new iPhone. Demand appears to be heavily out-weighing supply in Sydney at the moment, and after exhausting all the stores in my vicinity, two weeks ago I ended up resigning myself to going on a waiting list.

At the time of going on the list I was told that the phones should be available within one or two weeks.

Having patiently waited two weeks without any contact from Virgin Mobile, I decided to visit my local store this morning. I was informed that not only had I not moved up the waiting list, but that they had no idea when the next delivery of iPhone would be, nor any idea as to how many would be delivered.

Who should I vent my anger at? It appears wrong and unfair to take it out on the Saturday staff who, if they are to be believed, are dealing with a severe lack of information. The issue seems to be distribution. Does that mean it is actually Apple’s fault, or is there someone in between Virgin Mobile and Apple who I should be venting my anger at?

Organisations need to take ownership of the holistic customer experience

Upon reflection my frustration is definitely vented at Virgin Mobile. An organisation needs to take ownership of the experience their customers have. Ideally Virgin Mobile should have insight into the delivery dates from their distributors – it should be part of their contract.

In turn this information should made available to local Virgin Mobile outlets so they can pass on accurate information to customers, rather than having to rely on “we usually get them in every one or two weeks”.

But my local Virgin Mobile outlet isn’t completely blameless. They should take ownership of their customer’s experience, do everything they can do to obtain accurate information on stock delivery dates. Even if they can’t get this information, they should be proactive in contacting customers that have been waiting on the list for a period of time. I should get the feeling that they are on my side.

A simple call from my local outlet to explain that they are still awaiting delivery would give them an opportunity to convey a shared sense of the frustration for all that this weak link in the customer experience causes for all.

So my wait goes on. I long for the day when more organisations will deliver end-to-end services that offer a wonderful customer experience rather than individual gems in a sea of frustration.

Why battle so hard to win new customers and then treat them so badly?

The rule of thumb says that it is 6-10 times more expensive to win new customers than it is to retain existing customers (more at Wikipedia). So you’d think that any sensible company would make sure there existing customers don’t get disgruntled, annoyed, or even begin to consider that better options may lie elsewhere.

My favourite company (!) Virgin Mobile has just released a Free to V service. As you’ll no doubt guess from the catchy name, the service gives you free calls to other Virgin Mobile customers. As someone who’s recently joined Virgin’s service (and someone who’s always up for a bargain), I thought I’d call and enquire as to how I can get in on this deal.

Upon calling the lovely Virgin Mobile call centre, I was informed that this “great deal” is only available to new customers. Surely a strategy that encourages new customers (who are 6-10 times more expensive to attract) and at the same time annoys existing customers is the work of a very special mind.

If Free to V is a loss leader to attract new customers, and if the loss is so prohibitively high that they don’t want to offer it to existing customers, this strikes me as a risky short-termist strategy. Maybe new customers will increase, but the retention rate for existing customers will surely go down.

I can understand how a strategy like this got signed off, but I hope that a strategy based on frustrating your existing customers gets them what they deserve.

I want to state that I have nothing against Virgin Mobile per se – and I actually kind of like the general Virgin brand and the way it has expanded and follows me around the world. But come on Virgin Mobile Australia – this isn’t a joined up customer experience strategy.

We are currently experiencing an exceptionally high volume of calls

Ex – cep – tion – al
forming an exception or a rare instance; unusual; extraordinary.
dictionary.com

We moved house recently. Moving house is always strewn with a mixture of good and bad experiences and emotions. We had an exceptionally good removal company (details below), we had some exceptionally good call centre change of address experiences, but oh boy did we get frustrated by most of the call centres we rang.

All but two of the call centres we had to contact were experiencing “an exceptionally high volume of calls”. Now I’m not some customer experience extremist who expects companies to always have a representative ready at my beck and call (I’m an economy rather than executive kind of guy), but I get the feeling that these companies aren’t exactly being honest with me. Are these really rare, unusual occurences, or is this business as usual for call centres? If it is business as usual, isn’t their duty to be a bit more honest with us?

In addition none of the companies had any mechanism to give me any indication of my position in the queue, or how long I should expect to wait (I appreciate this can be inexact science, but something is better than nothing).

The biggest offenders have been Virgin Mobile (again!). My wife sat on hold for over 45 minutes only to be told that the department she needed to talk to wasn’t open for another 15 minutes (if only they’d had an unusually higher number of calls eh!). They wouldn’t even get the correct department to call her back when they were open (but the shocking customer experience offered by Virgin Mobile is worthy of an entire posting of its own).

Have I been exceptionally unlucky in experiencing exceptionally high volumes of calls (am I just a zeitgeist-y kind of guy) or is this just the norm? Personally I don’t think it is acceptable to be so dishonest to your customers. I’ll be talking with my feet.

For the record both Foxtel and the RTA had exceptionally short queues.

If you are in Sydney and want a great removal company, Happy Removals don’t have a website, but you should call Tom Peng on (02) 9649 9605. I have absolutely no connection to them other than having been a very satisfied customer.