“Probably SmartBro Call Center agents, given the kind of toxic working environment they are in, only hear their customers but not necessarily listen to them. And sadly, this becomes the reflection of the telco company as a whole. It is strange because communication service is their business. “
A recent trip to Singapore and Malaysia tells me that internet connection in the Philippines is completely crap. Our fastest way to the Web is not even an acceptable speed compared to what our Asian neighbors are experiencing. It’s safe enough to say that our internet speed is like the PNR Trains while theirs are like Bullet Trains. There’s a big gap – ten years is a very conservative estimate.
And let us talk about customer service. It is strange that the world’s biggest banks and multinational companies turn to the Philippines when it comes to business outsourcing because of competent workforce but it is sad that local companies fall short in producing customer friendly and efficient telephone operators to deal with their queries.
As someone who has worked in phone banking for global bank for almost five years, I have a fair picture of what a quality customer service should be. Hence my experience on the September 7 with Smart call center just made me ask: Does SmartCares really care?
I have a routine every Sunday. In the afternoon, I start reading articles online to prepare for my column that is published in Manila Standard Today. To my disappointment, my internet connection was busted. Actually, it’s a problem that I have been experiencing for more than a month now.
Whenever I come home from work, I turn my laptop on to do some stuffs online. And because my internet service provider is very reliable I just turn to my mobile phone to connect to the internet. I don’t have any issue with that apart from it drains my battery empty. I have another SmartBro LTE prepaid device but I can’t use it because I hardly buy prepaid cards because I have been a Globe postpaid customer for almost 8 years now.
Going back to my story, I dialed SmartBro customer service to seek help and to follow up on an issue that has been going for more than a month now. The operator gave me the standard and canned assurance spiel,” Pasensya na po sa inconvenience, finorward ko na po yung request niyo, paki monitor na lang po yung connection niyo.”
If that’s how they define empathy in addressing customer requirements, I don’t know what they teach in their training.
Since this is not the first time, I politely asked for a supervisor because I wanted assurance, a higher authority so to speak. The operator asked me: Bakit gusto niyo pong kumausap ng supervisor? Anong problema?
I wanted to be sarcastic and tell the operator, “Walang problema, bored lang ako kaya gusto ko ng kausap,” but I tried to be civil as possible and told the operator that I don’t mean to make him feel incompetent but I just wanted to escalate my concern that’s why I wanted to speak to a supervisor.
The operator declined my request 3 times before he said he would put me on hold to get a supervisor. He got back to me six times saying all supervisors were unavailable and asked me six times “what’s the problem about.” Finally, I got pissed off and told him, ” My problem is my connection that I cannot use for more than a month that’s why I wanted to file a formal complaint and ask for a refund but after 46 minutes, I decided that I’m going to include you in my complaint for not listening to me and for brushing me away. Wala akong problema sa comprehension anim na beses mo nang sinabi na your supervisor will tell me the same thing. Anim na beses, hindi ako bingi.”
Finally, a supervisor took over the call. And I thought the problem would be resolved. But I have experienced the worst. I tried to be as professional as possible because I wanted the supervisor to listen to me and not just merely hear what I’m saying. After telling my complaint in bullet points, the operator suddenly said hello…hello. That happened suddenly like a system error. I could hear him just fine but he couldn’t hear me. What a coincidence, yeah? Because they couldn’t brush me away as I was patient enough to talk over the phone, they pretended that they couldn’t hear me. And that’s the service I got after being a loyal customer for eight long years not to mention that there was never a time that I missed my monthly payment.
I phoned them back after the line got cut off, and interestingly, when the operator was about to transfer me to the supervisor that dealt with my concern, the line went dead again. Very unfortunate, right? And this supervisor was just too lethargic not to call me back.
Will I call them back? Probably. But waiting on the phone for several minutes while the call is held on a queue is not a pleasant experience. And being treated unfairly just adds insult to injury.
I don’t know how many SmartBro subscribers experience the same. I don’t know how many hard earned pesos are put to waste because of the service they cannot provide.
This is the kind of service I am getting from Smart amid being a loyal customer. Probably, I’m just too lazy to get the service of other provider. You can’t blame me, from telephone line to cable TV, applying for a new one is just a slow process if not a total nightmare. And it is also so unfortunate that in our area, we don’t have much of a choice.
Consumer rights are not well-defined in the Philippines unlike in developed countries like the United States or United Kingdom. In the UK for example, when a consumer did not get the product or service he paid for, he can get an outright refund. Similarly, when he did not get an advance notice or what we call billing statement, he can call his bank and ask for a refund and he will get it within the same day.
As a customer who was inconvenienced and who pays for the service I can’t get,probably I was asking for too much – a refund and an assurance that I will no longer pay for anything for a service that I didn’t get.
I have recently established a small business that requires me to have another landline. I took the landline with internet package. The agent wanted me to upgrade it with Cignal cable as an Add On, I declined because having two cable TV connections is impractical if not useless. You see, they are only good at sales talk but they failed miserably to deliver. And guess what, my new telephone line is with PLDT still, the same company that manages Smart. I filed my application more than two weeks ago and I have not heard anything from them since then.