There isn’t much difference when you look at the packages offered by the mobile networks in UK, they have the same phones, much the same network cover, minutes, text, data quota and only small differences in the extra bits and pieces in the packages, so what is left to differentiate on? The answer is: Customer service. This isn’t a parameter that easy can be copied (unlike price and data quota). The customer service is, is in my experience, pretty good when you join a network as a new customer but isn’t good to retain you as a customer and can be awful when you leave them.
I called O2 yesterday because the plan I was on, had a price of roughly 3 times the one of a slightly better plan from a competitor, so it was time to ask O2 what they could do about the price. I would stay with O2 if they could offer something close to the best on the market – I would pay a bit extra to stay with the O2 (not that it is that big a hassle to transfer a number to a different network).
The customer service (the retention team) was awful, they best they could offer was still double the best on the market but with less data and a 12 months contract (the best on the market didn’t have a 12 month contract). When I explained this wasn’t competitive the customer service rep went in to a complete denial mode of better offers on the market, despite it was from a main network – Three.co.uk
I would have left O2 with a feeling of a company that was honest with its customer if the customer service rep just had explained their best offer for my need and accepted there were better offers around, instead of trying to cover up their uncompetitive offering. I am now far less likely to return to O2 one day.
Social media is increasingly making poor customer service visible to potential customers. Some companies have already started to monitor the social media so they can address customer service issues, this combined with a focus on delivering good spin free customer service in the first place would be a powerful combination. Let 2011 be the year poor customer service is made visible to new customers!