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ISP & Teleoperator Customer Service and You 101

by Apr 15

You hate it, I hate it, we all hate it. ISP and Teleoperator Customer service. You hate calling us because fuck us, and we hate answering you, cause fuck you. Yes, I work in the CS of a major Nordic phone and internet operator, and here's a look at stuff from this side of the fence, and some information that you might find useful. NOTE: This information bases on my experiences in Nordic countries, where the operator market is highly competitive and we have to play nice with the rules and regulations of EU. Not everything will apply to places like US, where area monopolies can be a thing, but I figured out at least some of you might get some use out of it.

If you think that only technical support is outsourced somewhere in India and you have to deal with fuckwads that know nothing about the company or issue, I have bad news for you. It's 90% likely that the person helping you with your bills, setting up a new connection, or selling you a channel package is also outsourced or subcontracted, just domestically. It's very common for bigger companies to use a staffing company like Manpowergroup, Adecco, or Randstad for their Customer Service needs. I myself work for an "outside partner", I'm not employed by the operator whose customers I serve. Which means not only do I need to abide to the operator's rules, but the goals of my own employers. And they don't always mesh. The operator I work for has their own Customer Service department, they use the company I work for, and they also have another partner doing same jobs as we do. This creates an odd situation where the customer service agent you talk with actually might be competing with other agents to get your call. Not only that, due to us serving the operator, we need to be profitable to our own company, which means we need to do sales, meaning we actually also compete with the actual stores and Telesales teams they have. So if you ever call your operator about a billing issue at 8AM and wonder why the fuck do they try and sell you shit, when you just wanna be done, now you know why.

At this point you probably already understand it. I'm sorry. You are not the customer. My customer is the operator. Sure, I help you deal with your shit from billing, sales, to technical issues, but more than pleasing you, I need to ensure I please my managers, who try and please the customer. This means we often have ridiculous, and sometimes opposing, demands that you might not be aware of, like hourly contact rate, how many sales we do, what's the quality of our service, and more. My quota is to deal with 4 customers per hour, and make 20 euros worth of sales per hour. This means I need to sell a shit load of product and talk with an average of 32 people per day. So if you wonder why the person you spoke with last week might not remember your case and who you are, and that pisses you off, it's probably because that person has since spoken with (average) over 160 different people. The longer the time, the less of a chance any of us remember you, as the number of people increases exponentially. Working 5 days a week, every week for a year, a CS agent who gets to their quota every day would have spoken with 1620 people during a year, minimum. Though truthfully we don't always get our quota, because y'all have many different types of issues and we can't really solve everything within 15 minutes. Also we need to stick to the operator's brand and way to meet customers, and cutting corners can get you in shit with your manager. (Personally I forget you even exist anymore when I get home, unless you make yourself stand out somehow.)

Well, yes, yes it is. This is the first beneficial thing for you. Due to the contest situation between departments and subcontractors, the myth of calling again if you don't get your way is proven to be useful, since you can connect to a different company, with different goals, and you'll thus get an "easier" agent to treat you like the Queen or King that you are. On the flipside, when the call ends, you're also "No longer my problem". But, enough of that. Lets talk more about how you can make life easier for me, and for yourself.

If you want to avoid waiting on the line for stupid long times, call between 10-11:30AM, 1PM-3PM, and 7PM-9PM. Those are usually the quietest times of the day. Most people try and get their shit done early in the morning (no, in this case early bird won't get the worm), during lunch, or when they get home form work. If your operator has a customer service chat line, it's usually the quickest way to get things done during day time, since people tend to leave using chats to the evening or late night. Also avoid Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, those are the busiest days. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday are generally quieter than the rest. If you wonder why I recommend these times, we actually have predictions of customer flow for every day of the week, and thus also know when the peak hours are.

Here are the two things that Tech support will ALWAYS ask you to do if you call to report an issue. No matter if it's a phone, internet connections and devices (routers, modems), or computer: 1. Have you turned it on and off? 2. Have you reset the device? Do them, and don't lie about doing them. 90% of problems are temporary jams or hiccups, that are fixed either by turning it on and off, or doing a soft reset, and it's super easy for most devices. Here's a quick step guide for the most problem situations for you to do before calling tech support. My internet doesn't work! - Reset your router/modem (there's either a reset button, or a hole with "reset" written next to it. Push it for 20 seconds and let your device boot back up in peace. This can take from 5-10 minutes). - If you always use Wifi and it stops working, before deeming everything is broken, test if the connection works with a wire. If it works with a wire from the box to the device, it's most likely your Wifi is turned off or is just hiccuping. - Power cycle your devices. Turn your computer off, reset the router, let the router reset, power on your computer. I can't make calls! It's complaining about my SIM card! - Take the SIM card out, and put it back in. It's very likely it just got nudged like 0.1 millimeters off its place. - Put your phone in Flight mode and back off. This clears most of the temporary hiccups. - Test your SIM card in another device. This will tell you if the Card is broken, or if something is messed up in your phone. I can't make calls / I can't use data on my phone / something is wrong with my phone! - Do a soft reset. Androids hold up Volume up and power button until you see the logo. For Apple phones, hold the Home and lock button down until the phone reboots, or if you don't got a home button no more, use Volume Up and the Wake up button. - Check your Multimedia message and internet settings. Often times something just got fucked there and you can just reset them and be good. None of this worked! Do a back up of all your data if you have to take your device in for service. I can't stress this enough. Most modern phone, computer, and smart device issues come from broken apps, or apps / programs corrupting the OS. Maintenance service will most likely do a hard reset of your device and wipe all the data.

In a highly competitive operator setting, two words are they key to everything: Churn Control. Churn is the event of customers moving between companies, and that's what they don't like. They want you to stay with them, and pay them cash money. They need that three fiddy. This works in your favor though, because it gives you the chance to put your services out to tender. Check out the prices offered. See if there's some good campaign going on at a competitor. Buuut.. don't take it. Use it when you call your own operator. Tell them you got an offer. Tell the rates. Say you like the operator but money talks. Many operators have so called Rescue Rates, which are the minimum rates they can offer a service at. This applies both to internet and phone subscriptions. See what they can offer. Can they price match? Can they mayhaps go under it? You lose nothing asking, especially if you're nice about it. Also count your usage on a longer time scale than month to month. You might take the cheapest package because hey you don't use that much? Right? But look at it on a period of six months. If you keep going over the package all the time and paying extra for your data or calls / texts, it's very likely you average at the rate of a slightly more expensive package, or just end up paying more and worrying about it, than paying 2 euros more and not having to worry about it. It's also good to think about fixed term contracts. Some operators give you cheaper rates for internet or phone plans if you take a fixed term contract, but be careful with them. On phone plans this often means you won't be able to use Blackfriday or New Year sales benefits for tender your services. On Internet and tv services, depending on the area and if you're planning on moving in the next couple years, it can be a good idea, 'cause you'll save quite a lot on them. And if you have no problem with bill management, don't buy too much into compiled billing or just paying one place for all your services. Divide and rule. Channel providers can have cheaper rates than operators, so paying HBO or C-More directly can be a smart idea, and having your phones with one operator and your internet on another can also be worthy. Just come up with a plan to control it all and pay. your. bills. on. time. Nothing is a bigger waste of money than late fees.

This is more important than many people believe for more reasons than one. I highly suggest you check what you're paying for at least every other month, and not just blindly paying everything. Why is this so important? For one, if you notice one day that you've been paying two years for a phone number that you're no longer using, and then come barging angry at us for over charging you, I got bad news for you. We will most likely just refund you for the past two to three months, 'cause we don't really pay attention to if you're using it or not. You're paying us, so we just assume you're agreeing on keeping the service active. You have the responsibility to check your bills and a company can always lean on that and deny paying you back in full. Especially if there's nothing but your word to back you up on that something needed to be disconnected, or if you only realized a year later than "Woah, I totally paid too much on this bill in January 2017." Secondly most of the questions you have about your bill are already answered on the bill itself. This applies especially to phone bills. Learn the layout of your bill and which fee and tax applies to what. Differentiate between fixed costs (what you pay every month) and what are the deviations. Many of you don't realize that service and corporate numbers are 90% of the time not included in your minutes and will cost you extra. Same with calls abroad. If you call to a sex line in Thailand and then are angry about the size of your bill, it's not really our problem. We're just the middle man, who bills the service, we didn't provide it. If you want to make a reclamation about something you paid for with your phone, go to the provider of the service. Your kid order something off of Google Play that adds 30€ to your phone bill? Contact Google Play. Call a Number Search or a Television game and think they over charged you? Contact them. They are the prime channel of reclamation, even if the fee was on the bill we sent. We can help you do the reclamation if they say no, but like stated before, in these cases we're just the middle man. Even if you say it to me 10 times that you didn't use your phone to buy 10 extra lives in Candy Crush denying it to me won't do a thing. I can't return your money, 'cause it's not going to go to us. It's going to King. If we return it to you, then we still have to pay it to King, we're double out, for just being the messenger. As a general thing, it's also always better to contact your operator and negotiate new dates and clumping of bills, than pay them late. Not only does always being late affect your credit, but being in contact about difficult times will more likely make the credit check teams lenient on your case if things get bad. It's better to say something than to say nothing at all. Trust me, we've heard so many medical records, family member death, drinking binges, and other stories, that we don't really care what your situation is. We just care that you take care of your bills, and we will gladly help you if you need help with dealing with them. That being said, companies are not very responsible entities and they do not baby sit your services. Billing is highly automated, and mistakes happen. It's easier to let the system do its thing, and apologize later, than try and pre-emptively check everything. If some of you pay extra without realizing, better for the company.


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