No I haven’t been off on a long holiday, sunning myself by the side of a clear blue ocean, and all that – I have moved house.

There are some people that believe moving house is one of the major causes of stress, and you can now count me in on that – I really cannot recall the events of the last few months without a shudder and a double scotch. But while the move itself was somewhat traumatic (the problem of what to do with. and where to put 3,000 books still looms large) my major problem was caused by a one of Australia’s largest communication networks.

It started out as quite a small inconvenience about internet access, but ended up with us ejecting them from our household for a much more user friendly supplier.

But I should tell you that I did so reluctantly, for I have been a true and loyal customer of theirs for many years, when customer satisfaction was one of their hall marks. I recall when we once lived on a remote property where telephone access was problematic. Their engineers spend hours tracing problems and fixing them, and when they realised that the whole system was the problem; they came and parked themselves on the property and dug a channel through our neighbour’s peanut paddock to re-lay the wires. So attentive to our requirements were they that I was on first name basis with many of them and even exchanged Christmas cards.

Such attention to customer’s needs does not come cheap, but the resulting loyalty that it engendered cannot be measured merely in dollars and since then we had scornfully turned away possibly more financially attractive offers because of that loyalty. They had been good to us and we were more than satisfied with their performance. But that was then – this is now.

I may have mentioned that I do a lot of my work from home, but to do so requires a reliable internet connection. On moving to my new location cable facilities (which I had used previously) were not available – and so I rang my trusty provider to find out what options were available here. The resulting fiasco was mammoth in its tragedy.

First, let me say that anyone who is in the business of providing their clients or customers with information and/or advice which affects their financial choices have a duty of care to get the information at least partially right. In this instance the information that I was given was inadequate, misleading and some was just plain wrong. It led to us purchasing equipment that was completely unworkable in this area.

For three weeks the husband or I would ring them up again and restate the problem and try to obtain the information we needed to set up a simple internet connection. You would think that those people who man “help’ lines would have a modicum of knowledge about the services and products that they supply wouldn’t you? Well in this case you would be wrong. I lost track of exactly how many different people I spoke to, and I don’t think I spoke to the same person twice. I even went to the local shop to talk to someone face to face. They sympathised and promptly dialled a telephone number with the bright comment “Talk to our help line – they can sort this out.” Well I am sorry Brian, but they caused it in the first place.

You might wonder why we just kept banging our heads against a brick wall. Well, it was that long held sense of loyalty – they had been committed to customer service and satisfaction then; surely they would wake up to the reality and be so again. Well they weren’t. They soon let it be known that we must be idiots who could not understand simple instructions, and were becoming a nuisance. When it was not so tactfully suggested that perhaps I was too old to understand the intricacies of the internet I gave up.

I rang one of their major competitors and within three days I was back on line.

So let me tell you John, Sarah, Dennis, Joe, Maria (have I left anyone out) – the equipment that you advised me to purchase does not work because the programme it was designed to support is not yet available in my locality. It couldn’t work, it didn’t work and it was never going to work – simple.

Remember, it is your duty of care to get your information right. It is your duty of care to ensure that I – your paying customer – get the information that is practical and appropriate. In today’s economic climate surely a customer that you already have is worth more than one you have to tempt away from another business. Your misinformation and attitude has lost your organisation one of its most loyal customers – well done, you’ll probably get a bonus.

And don’t get me started on the difficulties in simply changing your address with government departments – oh boy!!

Customer satisfaction? I really don’t think it figures in some organisations these days.

Michele @ Trischel

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