Claims of customer service greatness fail to ring true

Of real interest in your article about customer service (MW 23 February) were the comments from Sir Richard Branson and Phil Stewart from Virgin Media.

This time last year, I experienced the worst customer experience debacle of my life, following Virgin Media’s failure to install its service when promised.

Multiple calls to multiple representatives on multiple different numbers left me with a deep sense of confusion at every turn. All trust was gone and the Virgin brand promise was catastrophically compromised.

If brands are to truly shift the general notion that dealing with call centres is one of life’s painful but necessary evils, they not only need to learn from those past experiences, but also find ways to repair the damage done when things have gone so badly wrong.

Refunds are easy and expected, of course, but fairly hollow gestures. A personalised letter, for example, referencing the specific problems in question and detailing exactly what had been done subsequently to stop the same thing happening again would have gone a long way to making me believe Virgin actually did have some empathy and put a value on good service.

Look at all the service brands operating in the UK today and then name the brands that offer good service. First Direct, John Lewis… and then we’re struggling.

Until brands put their money where their mouths are, any claims of greatness in this field will continue to be little more than platitudes.

Jason Panudy via email

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