I’ve been having a few frustrations recently with regards customer and technical service. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably already got bored of my increasingly frustrated tweets about the level of service from my domain and web hosting company. Through my frustration with Titan Internet’s increasingly poor service and what feels like disregard for the customer, along with others, led me to think about the quality of customer service through Twitter, and also the reliance we have in life and business on our technology providers.
I find it really quite sad when the level of service falls so much. I moved my business to Titan Internet when it first began, way back in about 1999. I was one of their first, if not largest or most profitable customers, when I was designing websites and even had a recommendation on their home page. They were a fantastic company with brilliant support. Lee Christie, founder, has on his LinkedIn profile “I started Titan on the principles of excellent technical knowledge and customer service. I’ve grown the company to 20+ staff whilst retaining those basic principles and as a result customers love us to bits :)” and that was true. I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Some 15 years later and the story is very different. Titan Internet were taken over, grown larger and since then I’ve had no end of trouble. Their technical systems aren’t correct, telling me my domains are ok when they seem to expire, or vice versa, they’ve miss-sold me products and their technical support is a joke. Most recently I logged an urgent support ticket 10am Friday of a whole domain and five email accounts being down and their 24/7 support finally responded 7pm on Sunday. I feel that is unacceptable technical support and will come back to that point later.
The point that I find fascinating and started me thinking about this blog post though, is the customer communication on Twitter. Some brands do it really well and this is a good read on that topic: 7 essential customer service tweets: what they are, when to use them
However I found that Titan didn’t respond to my tweet commenting that I hadn’t had a technical response for two days:
— Jo Cook (@LightbulbJo) December 5, 2014
It was only with this latest issue that I tweeted a little more…
…and never got a response from Titan on anything.
When I looked further, they didn’t seem fussed about Twitter at all.
This is their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/titaninternet and certainly at the time of writing in early July 2015, they haven’t had a post since December 2011!
In this day and age of social media, how can a company not use it’s Twitter account or acknowledge it’s disgruntled customers?
This article highlights some research about response times on twitter and some key lessons that organisations can take away from the examples they share: How Are Top Brands Doing With Twitter Customer Service? There are four key takeaways from this article and, looking just at the Twitter experience, Titan fail all of them!
- Respond quickly – no response at all
- Make it easy – see point 1
- Manage your presence – no tweets since 2011
- Provide appropriate knowledge – see point 1!
Obviously once I saw they weren’t responding on Twitter my own tweets were more about farcical frustration relief!
Speaking of this, for some lighter Twitter customer service relief this is a fun read: 10 of the most brilliant customer service exchanges ever seen on Twitter
Technical customer service
This led me to reflect on some other pretty poor service I’ve received in the last six months, largely from Virgin Internet and BT over my broadband. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was about installation in a new property for a high speed internet line from each (I work from home running my own business in the live online delivery area so need the backup line). The time it took to get this moving was ridiculous, as well as then the quality of speed from BT and general service from both. What astounded me more than anything was that these were business accounts. And just like with Titan, the technical support and follow up just weren’t up to scratch. In BT’s case, when my broadband line wasn’t working, I was told that “broadband isn’t considered a business essential tool” and therefore I just had to wait for it to be fixed.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A technology and communications company were telling me that one of their business products wasn’t essential for support and to get up and running!? Another element that angered me was that I am the customer – surely it’s down to my business to determine what is essential? For someone who’s business is based largely around facilitating and producing/hosting online training sessions, having a broadband connection is pretty damn essential!
Am I having a rant? Yes. Am I extremely angry and frustrated? Yes. Can I do anything? Well, I can vote with my feet where Titan is concerned and I’ve asked for recommendations to move provider, but only once this latest technical issue is sorted out. With BT and Virgin media? Pretty much no choice if I want internet access!
It’s just not good enough
The bigger issues here are around quality of technical support service and response times, especially in business situations where I think it’s completely unacceptable to wait days and days on end for any kind of response let alone a fix. These issues cause so much stress for the individuals and organisations involved it’s ridiculous. I’ve been without email on one of my domains for seven days now and there’s very little I can do about it. That’s a pretty sad reflection on technical and customer service with some businesses.