There are many lessons entrepreneurs and executives can learn from the challenges experienced by other companies. O2 delivered, in my opinion, a master class recently.
As an O2 customer, I was recently massively frustrated by the loss of mobile service when O2 experience UK wide network outages. This was on the 11th July with the problem persisting through until about midday on the 12th. What made this serious inconvenience even more stressful and frustrating for me, was that Virgin Media broadband and telephone cable service went down from early on the 11th and this too lasted through until very late on the 12th.
As these 2 companies are not related and do not use the same systems, while being frustrated, I was fascinated to see how they handled these issues. Admittedly, O2 had a massive national issue to deal with and Virgin only had a local issue, however, their responses did show the corporate culture and the determination of the staff to focus on service delivery.
When I called Virgin to find out why I had lost service, I was given the usual, “you now have 3 options to choose from and you now have 5 options to choose from”, run around before ending up speaking to a person whose first language clearly was not English. She explained that the earliest a technician could come out was the 13th and that was that.
The next morning I called the technical department to follow up and hopeful get a technician out earlier. It was now that I was told that the problem was not mine alone but the entire area and they were working on the problem. Fair enough, but then the customer service rep astonished me. Firstly, he told me that I was on the wrong package and needed to upgrade, at an extra cost, and then told me that I would have to pay for the service that I would not have for 3 days!
Please don’t get me wrong, I am totally happy with my broadband and telephone service from Virgin. I understand that, like all businesses, they have challenges to deal that no one can predict in advance. What is frustrating, however, is the manner in which these issues, particularly the customer service issues, are dealt with.
My experience with O2, by contrast was totally different and so was their public relations response. After an initial phone call, which was dealt with well, I constantly received updates of what was happening. I also followed the discussion on twitter, which revealed the anger of many people and the wise and delightful responses from the team at O2.
These responses and updates eventually turned what were initially extremely irate customers, including myself, into happy campers. I clearly understood that they dropped everything to solve this issue and retain their customer base. They were proactive and quick in their response. No matter the abuse was hurled at them; they took it and dealt with it in a way that, for the most part, defused the situation.
From my perspective, O2 gave the world of business a master class in customer service and consumer relations. The likes of Barclays and Natwest and so many corporations around the world could and in fact should learn from this. O2 are by no means perfect and will have challenges in the future to deal with, but this was brilliant.
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