Thursday, 29 May 2014

How to win friends and keep your customers

Over recent years it's become blindingly apparent that I spend an ever-increasing fraction of my income having zeroes and ones piped into my house. In other words, I'm paying a heck of a lot money for broadband.

Every now and then I have a rush of blood to the head and think about moving my ISP somewhere else. But then I have a cup of tea and a biscuit and the urge dwindles.

It's not that I'm rich enough to stand the loss. I am not. I am, as is well known, monumentally lazy (the post counts alone on here should tell you that) but also somewhat resistant to change. My internet connection sort of works, after a fashion, so why would I want to risk it with someone else? Added to that, my ISP also provides me with cable TV and a landline so quite frankly it just seems to be a bit of a faff.

So when Virginmedia (for it is they) sent me a letter last night, practically begging me to ring them to see what they could do for me as an existing customer, it seemed like the answer to my prayers. Perhaps I could get a better deal and not have to uproot everything.

So I gathered up some information. I looked at what I was getting for my monthly payment. I looked at the competition to see what I could get elsewhere. Then I dialled the number on the letter from Virginmedia.

"Our operators are busy and the wait time is 30 minutes," said the message. I looked at the phone in my hand like a drunk does at the bottle of whisky in those comedy movies when he's seen something unlikely.

I am not a marketing person. No, really. But even I think it's a bit daft to lead on your existing customers, motivate them to think about what they've got and what they could have, and then leave them hanging.

I contacted Virginmedia on Twitter to tell them that is was a bit daft. Fair enough, they responded, asking me to fill out an online form. Which had a field on it for a password I have never used. I couldn't get past it - it was a mandatory field - so I couldn't contact them that way either. 

Virginmedia's Twitter team did seem genuinely as if they wanted to help (it's probably a nice difference from dealing with irate teenagers complaining that they can't shoot their friends on online gaming as fast as they'd like) but they wouldn't let me DM my details to them.

"Oh no," they said. "That's not secure. Send us an email instead."

So according to this technology company, sending a plain unencrypted email, which will bounce around several unknown and random email servers before reaching its destination, is the way forward.

I have seen the future, dear reader. And I think it involves letters and the Royal Mail.

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