In marketing we often refer to the marketing mix, or the four “P”s of marketing – product, price, promotion and place (distribution). For years, I have argued that there is a fifth “P” – people, and perhaps a sixth “P” – process. In the past three weeks I have seen a company destroy their brand with me, by screwing up the people and process.
Bell Canada has been around forever and is still a major player in the telecommunications industry in Canada. And yet, they are so anti-customer it is scary. On Boxing Day I finally sent my old television, purchased in 1995, to where all good TVs eventually go, and bought a new flat screen. So I had to get an HD box for my Bell TV service. So I unhooked the old box, and went to the Bell store. They told me they couldn’t give me a new box, unless I was purchasing the box. If I wanted to get the box as part of the package deal, I had to phone Bell. So I went home (wondering why Bell bothered with a store, if they couldn’t provide basic services), and called Bell.
I had checked Bell’s website, and it said that you could get a digital PVR free with a bundle (internet, TV and home phone), all of which I had. But when I phoned, they said it was only for new customers. Apparently this was buried on the website about four screens in (and, the page with the info did not have a visible link). I went ballistic, and I was connected to “Loyalty”. Loyalty fixed everything. He even gave me my PVR and call display for free, included in the package. I asked about my internet, since it hadn’t been working for some time and I hadn’t been able to figure out the problem. He let me know that my internet connection was working, so there must be a technical issue on my end.
A few days later and my call display was still not working. I call Bell. They tell me I didn’t order call display. It will cost me 10.00 to have call display and call waiting. I don’t want call waiting (I hate the beeping in the middle of a conversation). I just want call display. This will cost me $10.95. After they promised call display as part of my package only five days earlier. Sigh. I agree to pay for the call display. The Bell customer service rep notes that there is an order for internet. I ask about that, since the previous rep said that my internet is working just fine from their end. She doesn’t know, but by that time I’m so mad I’m not willing to get into another fight, and let it go.
A few days later, the Bell TV guy showed up and hooked everything up. When I went to hand him my old box, he told me that he couldn’t take the box, that Bell would send me a packing box via mail, with a prepaid courier shipping label, and I could arrange for a pick up. Makes it easier for Bell, but a pain in the butt for me, as I don’t work from an office, and hanging around for a courier to show up is a headache. I got the shipping box a few days later, only to find out that one of the pieces of equipment they wanted returned was still in use. Sigh. Another phone call to Bell. They note it on my account that the equipment is still in use, so I don’t have to pay an $80 equipment charge. A few days later, I beg one of the staff in the college residence building to hand the box to the courier, while I am in class. Done.
A few days later, my tech guy comes around and tells me my internet modem is fried. So I call Bell for a replacement. First I talk to one person, give her all the details, then she transfers me to a second person, who takes all the same details. Oh, and by the way, they will send me a box to mail them my old modem, I can’t send it back with the installation guy. Then she transfers me to a third person, wherein I find out that my internet account is suspended. Since it is on automatic payment from my bank account, I find this a bit confusing. Wherein I find out that internet is on a contract that must be renewed every three years. My question is why? My needs haven’t changed, and it serves no purpose to make me do paper work every three years. They want me to talk to someone in accounts, but after 30 minutes of fruitlessly repeating myself, I just hang up.
This morning, I open my email with a notice from Bell that my automatic payment has been discontinued. Why? No particular reason. So now I need to go on Bell’s website, set up a MyBell account, and re-initiate my automatic payment from my bank. Oh, and they want my Bell account number. Which, of course is at home with my personal files. So I have to e-chat with an online staff person to set up the account. Finally, I get to the site, set up my automatic payment. Then I notice that they have not yet updated my services to reflect what I changed three weeks ago. Sigh. I guess I’ll have to make another call to Bell. And, the final blow, the automatic payment will not be established in time to pay my next bill, which is not due for another 7 days. So I have to go to my bank website and manually pay the bill, to avoid being late paying it.
Bell’s processes are designed to be convenient for Bell, not for their customers. They continually change their minds, screw their customers over and make things more complicated than they need to be. Every conversation with Bell has made me less satisfied with their service. These crappy processes make it difficult for Bell customer service employees to be effective and responsive to customers. CSRs aren’t given any ability to respond to irate customers – they just parrot the company line. Not their fault, but it increases the frustration the average customer experiences with Bell.
Bell needs to wake up. The deregulated new tech world is here. And Bell isn’t keeping up. They will continue to lose customers if they don’t fix their processes and enable their people to solve customer problems. If you aren’t already a Bell customer, stay far, far away.