If companies want to show their customers how much they value them, responding well to complaints is essential. So, I wasn’t very happy with the response O2 gave me after I was hit by its network outage.
I was one of the unfortunate O2 customers who experienced a network blackout for more than 12 hours on Friday last week. I was also one of the unfortunate O2 customers who endured the same thing in July.
However, unlike the July episode, this time I got no personalised apology, no adequate explanation for the fault and no compensation.
Good customer service reputation
O2 generally has a good reputation for customer services – so I was very disappointed by the way it handled its latest network failure and my subsequent complaint.
I emailed a very clear, considered and polite complaint to O2, asking what had happened, why I hadn’t received an apology (last time I was sent a prompt apology via text message) and why this time there had been no offer of compensation (last time all affected customers were given 10% off their month’s bill). I also explained the significant personal impact (which I won’t go into here) that the blackout had had on me.
Disappointingly, I received a woefully inadequate, automated response which failed to address any of my specific concerns.
Now, I should be clear in saying that O2 are not legally obliged to provide text updates or any form of compensation for network failure and this is stated in customer contracts. So, in a way, O2’s offer of compensation in July was a gesture of goodwill. Still, as we said last time, if you’ve been hugely inconvenienced by a network blackout shouldn’t you get some compensation?
How to respond to failures and complaints
An estimated 10% of O2’s 23 million customers were affected this time, surely a significant enough number to initiate a comprehensive and well-coordinated update, apology and compensation process?
And there are just some things that companies need to get right when they respond to a complaint. For example, getting the customer’s name (and title!) correct in the response. Taking the time to address the specific, and often personal, points the customer has raised. And formatting the email correctly so it’s not obvious that it’s a copy and paste response.
We all understand that problems can occur, but I don’t think there’s an excuse for handling a valid customer complaint so poorly.
Were you affected by the latest O2 network blackout? Did you complain and if so what kind of response did you get?