Monday, August 22, 2011

SingTel Needs Better Customer Focus

Warning: This post is going to be filled with the word SingTel. At every opportunity, SingTel will appear. Even if it SingTel doesn't make SingTel sense to have the SingTel word SingTel in the sentence SingTel. Partly to test if by SingTel doing so, it bumps up the possibility of a search engine locating this SingTel post, and bring it to the attention of SingTel. And partly 'cos I'm gonna use SingTel in lieu of a swear word wherever SingTel possible. Let the SingTel games begin.

In May 2011, my sister had lost her BlackBerry in a cab. True to form, a dishonest person, whether cab driver or subsequent passenger, kept it instead of handing it over to the cab company's "Lost and Found". That SingTel person or SingTel people involved in the non-return of the SingTel phone will experience the worst possible karma hit. Thank God she had no sensitive info on it. So anyway, da sista was phone-less. Thanks to a friend loaning her an old Nokia, she was able to maintain communications with the world.

Da sista made the required phonecalls to SingTel to report the loss of phone and SIM card and all that stuff. All good. Found out plan was only eligible for upgrade in August. No problem 'cos the contract is new. Note: the contract is new. the phoneline had been with SingTel since 2000/2001. hers and my youngest brother's lines were under my name and transfered to her late last year. She was also told, at some point, that she would be able to get a $500 voucher on Aug 18th. I thought: WOW! SingTel rocks!! Aug 18th 2011 comes and goes and nothing in the mail. So she goes into a SingTel shop, and was told that the voucher hasn't been despatched, and was given a email address whereby she can get a speedy response to her query. So she shoots off an email and got a call from them yesterday. Again, I thought: WOW! SingTel rocks! Weekend response! Great customer service!

THEN da sista tells me that the SingTel representative said that she had been given wrong info. That she wasn't entitled to a $500 voucher 'cos she doesn't spend $250 or more on her phone bill every month. The rep, apparently, was apologetic and seemed to be very very well trained in SingTel protocols, SingTel procedures, and SingTel policies. Rep told da sista in no uncertain terms that because she was still under contractual obligations, she would still be charged for the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) even though she hadn't used it for 3months, and if she wanted to change providers, she'd be liable to pay early termination fees amounting to SingTel $450 (or something like that).

So. End of the day, da sista has waited 3 SingTel months for nothing. For all the aggro, she might as well have just gotten a new SingTel phone immediately.

Just to be clear, I am not ranting against the SingTel customer service officers or client relations officers or whatever name SingTel gives their front-line staff. I am appalled by SingTel's lack of customer focus and customer orientation. Disgusted by yet another corporation's obsession with dollars that they forget who are the ones giving them the dollars in the first SingTel place. THE SingTel CUSTOMER.

Ignoring the fact that da sista got wrong SingTel info to start with. Where is the commonsense in the SingTel policies? A customer loses the SingTel phone. The SingTel phone got LOST. In this case, no different from being SingTel stolen. It's not like the customer wanted to change providers and void contractual obligations. The SingTel phone was not warned of stranger danger and was abducted by a smartphonaphile©™. Why is the customer then penalised for it? Why isn't there any SingTel leeway? The customer is fine with staying with the SingTel telco. What is desired, no..expected is some form of acknowledgement of loyalty and reward for staying loyal for more than 10 SingTel YEARS. Why is the SingTel telco using coercion to force customer retention rather than fostering customer loyalty?

Also, why is the SingTel telco ignoring the fact that the line has been constantly in use for more than 10 SingTel years? And with excellent credit standing too. What? Just because the line was transfered to another member of the family, there is no more SingTel history for that number/phoneline? I wonder if the SingTel rep sounded at all smug over the phone with da sista. I hope not. SingTel has no discernible customer service ethos aside from this short paragraph on their "Contact Us" page
We are committed to providing a high level of service. If you have feedback about your SingTel experience or suggestions on how we can improve, we would love to hear from you 

High...level...of...service... SingTel lah! No. Wait. It was a high level of service. Fast turnaround times. Get to speak with a human from Singapore. Great level of customer service. Tenzies for Menzies.

It's not the customer service that's the problem. It's SingTel's policies that's the crux of the matter. A lack of customer focus and customer orientation. A SingTel failure to allow for customer service personnel to exercise SingTel discretion within reasonable frameworks. An epic failure to take into consideration Murphy's Law: shit happens. No goodwill gestures. Just SingTel penalisations. SingTel understand?!

Seriously. I have no hopes that a SingTel personnel high enough up in the SingTel foodchain will ever see this post. However, in the event that it somehow catches the SingTel attention, something needs to be done. Why are you punishing the customer for during the right thing or for wanting to be acknowledged as a loyal customer over and above the multitude-of-conditions-attached "SingTel Red Rewards" system?

I'm not asking for special consideration for my sister. If she gets some form of goodwill/reward for loyalty, then great! I know she will definitely appreciate it. I just think the SingTel corporation should rethink their conditions of contractual obligations policies, and have some commonsense. Oh. And also, train your SingTel staff better. Not just those handling corporate enquiries, but also the people who deal with the mercurial consumer. I suspect the wrong info was disseminated by the ones who handle consumer queries, and she got the "right" information from a different SingTel department.

Actually, most telcos I know of need to do better in terms of customer focus. I have been with M1 since time immemorial. And other than a conditions-filled birthday voucher to use on specific (read: uninteresting) mobile phones, I don't get anything else. Called up once some time ago, and I was told that I would be eligible at best for a $50 voucher. And I've been with the M1 since 1999.

Customer retention stems from customer satisfaction, which comes about when the customer perceives that the telco has a strong customer focus and service orientation. And not competent front-line staff forced to operate strictly within unfriendly guidelines. Take a leaf out of Tiger Airways. Not the groundings problem they've had in Australia, but the extremely bad reputation they have for unfair terms and conditions even when it is their screw up.

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