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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

How Do Customers Perceive “Customer Service, Customer Care”?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Apr 21, 2011

After two incidents (three really) of poor Customer Service on the same day I felt compelled to put fingers to keys and share the experience! All of you working in FMCG, Drinks or Pharma - amongst others – should look closely at how your Customer Service or Customer Care initiatives operate.

During a business call on Skype the internet connection was suddenly lost. This is not that surprising bearing in mind where I live and the service is usually resumed in a few minutes. However, after an hour I was still unconnected with the outside world. Was something happening I did not know about? Did Arsene Wenger actually see a foul by one of his own players? Was someone famous about to get married? (Bill and Katie left me off the list too, never mind but perhaps an email was waiting inviting me to put on my best frock and get to the Abbey.)

Improve your Customer Service OperationsSo I called the ISP and braced myself for the mathematical memory challenge to get past the recorded robot to speak to a breathing human being. After the first burst of a non-English language I was invited to “press 2 for English” – it is working, was my naive thought. There followed a set of menu choices also delivered in English. I selected the option for internet service and then I gleefully pressed “0” to speak to a human being who would take care of my problem and get me reconnected to the world.

The female voice greeted me in her native language and her job title containing “Customer Care”. Ok, no problem with that, I am English and therefore mono-lingual but I know enough to get through the pleasantries and then I spoke in English.

“Can you help me reconnect my internet service?”

“No” replied the lady confidently – she obviously meant it and quickly put the telephone down.

Probably my fault. Did I navigate the maths-memory challenge correctly? Did I dial the Indian dial and deliver by mistake? In the context of my question and the take away menu then “no” would indeed be the correct answer. I try again and once more listen to a reel of adverts for items I do not need until I reached press zero time again. Things should be ok this time. I guess the lady was not actually an English speaker and picked up the English line by mistake. Aha, the gruffer tones of a man received me the second time.

“Can you help me reconnect my internet service?”

“No” replied the man equally as confidently as the lady before.

Before his digit could reach the red button I threw in a trapping retort.


“Because I don’t want to” came the response before he pressed the red button and activated the modern-day version of a hastily slammed phone.

I was not a happy chappy by this stage but I had to get reconnected so once more unto the breech dear friends…..Third time lucky was obviously in play as I raced through the maths and found someone at the end of the telephone who spoke English and actually wanted to help me.

“Can you help me reconnect my internet service?”

“Yes, of course. Please give me your subscription details.”

After being successfully identified, the nice man on the line told me why I was disconnected in the first place.

“You have not paid your latest invoice. This is why we cut you off.”

Despite a rise in temperature and associated blood pressure I calmly rejected this and provided the date and time and value of the payment I had made in good time.

“Can you provide the transaction reference number?”

“Well, I paid via the internet and I cannot recall the 8 digit transaction number.”

“Can you check with your internet bank now and tell me the number and then we can reconnect you?”

“Did you really say that”, I asked with remarkable degree of calm………….

Finally, as you can see I am back on line after a very frustrating brush with “Customer Care” and a not insignificant telephone expense.

If you are in the FMCG, Drinks or Pharma industries and offer a Customer Service or Customer Care call centre (and you should if you want to succeed) then you might just test it out yourself and really see what impression is being provided to your customers. All the hard work deployed in the Supply Chain and through Route to Market can be ruined in one simple phone call.

Right, closing down for Easter now and looking forward to raising my BMI towards 30! Bring on those chocolate eggs.

Tags: Customer service, Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma

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