Customer Service Is Dead

For those of you who know me, I worked at a certain western Canadian dominant telecommunications provider before I moved to Japan. (Certain ‘shrewd’ individuals should be able to ascertain which one.) Recently, I called my other telecom provider, Rogers Communications, to cancel my cellular service, where I was informed that I was required to give them 30 days notice of my intention to cancel, with no rebate to my final bill. After about five minutes on hold, I was informed that I would be allowed to cancel my service on the starting date of my next billing cycle, which is nearly a month away.

In this case I’m glad to get it, but the way it was handled is alerting me to a growing trend in customer service. When I was told that I could not cancel my service at this exact moment, I was informed of the “company policy” of 30 days notification. When I asked the standard question, “let me talk to your supervisor”, or in my actual words, “is there someone I can speak to, or some form I can fill out that can resolve this now,” the response I got was, “I’m sorry sir, but I’m the only person that you can talk to.”

Now understand, I’ve been on the giving end of this line, and it’s an interesting world on the headset side. From my experience, phone agents are given considerable power over service creation, cancelation and refund, however thanks to computers all this is tracked. On top of this, there is “corporate policy” and corporate policy, meaning that what I tell you before you threaten to cancel is not actually what I can do for you. And what I can ACTUALLY do for you is much more than what I can “do” for you. And just for giggles, let’s take away tier 2/supervisors/your corporate phone directory to “empower the employee to take action towards customer needs”.


I know exactly what he can do for me; either he has direct access to the billing system, and can cancel my service whenever he wants, or he can send an email to the billing department and get it taken care of. However, there is company policy, and this call may be recorded for “quality assurance”. Does quality mean that the job gets done to the customers satisfaction? No, quality means, “did the agent comply with management directives with regards to internal policy on customer handling”. Handling! What this actually does is remove the front line agents ability to resolve any real problems that don’t fit within the company policy mould. And if I, or the customer has a problem with it, well tough, there’s nobody else we can talk to, and nobody walks away from the situation happy.

For information on REAL customer service, I suggest you read/subscribe to Waiter Rant, and Seth Godin’s blogs. They are both keenly aware of how to properly serve the customer, both on the front end, and corporate sides (respectively).

So thank you Rogers, for allowing me to pay an extra month for service I can’t use. (Double thanks for buying out the only other GSM provider in Canada, assuring that you have a monopoly on me when/if I return…)