Wednesday, January 11, 2006

All in the name of service

When I get phone calls on my cell these days from numbers that I don't recognize, I automatically assume that they're work-related calls; even if they come at 1 AM, because I am part of a team that is on-call, after all. Though to receive an on-call phone call at 1 AM is crazy, given the type of work my team does, it is possible (though extremely rare so as to believe that it never happens). So anyway, I automatically answer calls from numbers that I don't recognize, "TELUS, Robert speaking."

//I wake up to Green Day ringtones at 1 AM, which sucks, because I was planning on being up at 6 AM. I was in a deep sleep! Grr....

Me: TELUS, Robert speaking.
Guy: Hi, I lost my phone.
Me: Uh, sorry?
Guy: Is this TELUS?
Me: Yes it is.
Guy: I lost my phone.
Me: Huh?
Guy: Is this TELUS?
Me: Uh, yes.
Guy: I lost my phone and want to switch the phone number to this phone.
Me: Oh, I see. Well, uh, I'm on the other side of the company, actually.... I'm not sure how that would get done. I think you would be better off calling Customer Service, they would know what to do, or where to direct you.

//You have to remember I was quite groggy and in a blissful state of sleep before receiving this call. Finally, I clue in. First question I am dying to ask the guy is, "Why on earth did you call my cell number instead of Customer Service?" But I don't because the guy's not listening to me.

Guy: I lost it on the bus.
Me: Uh, well, like I said, I'm on the other side of the company. But you know what, Translink has a Lost and Found service, and you could check that out tomorrow because...
Guy (cutting me off): I don't want that, I don't want other people using my phone. I want to switch the number to this phone.
Me: Uh, right, ok. But it would still be good to check it out because...
Guy (cutting me off again): I have the same phone. I want it switched over.
Me: Right, but it would still be good to look at Translink's Lost and Found service, it's at Stadium Skytrain...
Guy: I don't want someone else using the phone. Nobody might return it.
Me: Yeah ok, well, those are good points. Uh, I'm really not sure where to direct you, why don't we check out our website? Please just go to
Me: No, All one word.

//One of the negative implications of our branding strategy (one brand) is that everyone thinks that TELUS Mobility and TELUS Communications are the same company. Until the recently announced merger, that was not the case. TELUS Mobility operated very independently of the traditional wireline side of the business, and so most people in wireline (like myself) have no idea what goes on in Mobility. You have to remember that TELUS Mobility used to be Clearnet, and was acquired by TELUS to give TELUS a nationally competitive cell phone division. But Clearnet's operations were never integrated at all with wireline operations until now. But before, when that wasn't the case, people would always be phoning TELUS Communications with their cell phone problems, because they didn't know that Mobility was separate. You might say that the branding was too good. :)

Guy: I'm very upset right now.
Me: Sorry to hear that... how has the rest of your day been, other than this?
Guy: OK.
Me: Well, I'm glad to hear that, at least.
Guy: My friend lost it on the bus.
Me: Hmm, that kind of sucks.
Guy: I'm very angry. I want the phone number changed to be used on this phone now.
Me: Well, hopefully, as soon as you get in touch with Customer Service, we can get that fixed up. So your friend lost it the other day and...
Guy (Kids these days have no manners or something? Always cutting me off!): No, my friend lost it just now. My plan is unlimited evenings, weekends, and incoming.
Me: Mm hmm....

//OK dude, first of all, if you're angry, please don't take it out on the company, and especially not me, as I'm supposed to be enjoying my sleep right now. Your friend losing your cell phone isn't our fault, and certainly not mine. And the longer it takes for you to understand my personal cell phone number is not the number that you should be calling, the more upset I get. At this point, I was wondering if I should say, "Hey pal, you woke me up, you know that? And I have an early morning coming up!" I was also suddenly wondering, "If you want to switch that cell phone number over to be used on the cell phone that you're using right now, what's going to happen to the current cell phone number that you're using?"

Guy: OK, there's data, PCS, and (unintelligible)
Me: Sorry? Could you say that again?
Guy: PCS, data, (unintelligible)

//I should say that for the entire conversation, this guy was mumbling and had a heavy accent to boot. That made the conversation a little more irritable than it really should be on my part. I finally clued in that the website had finished loading.

Me: Ah, ok. Well, we probably want to look at PCS.
Guy: Ok there's (unintelligible), Client Care, (unintelligible)
Me: Sorry, can you say that again?
Guy: (repeats)
Me: Uh, I guess we want Client Care.

//I was surfing totally blind through this guy. I was still in bed, wishing that when I gave him the website, he'd have all the info he needed and would thank me and hang up. But noooo... he needed help surfing the website. OK, I admit that most websites out there are not perfect, and could probably use a little improvement, but when I finally resorted to turning on my own computer to find the information for him, I found it in seconds. TELUS Mobility's website isn't horrible or anything, you know. Be your own judge:

Me: OK, the number you want is 604-291-2355.
Guy: What about a 1-800 number?
Me: Well, we have one of those too, but this is the direct Vancouver number for customer care. But I'll give you the 1-800 number too, just in case:

//Alright, pal, if you thought of calling a 1-800 number in the first place, where'd you get the idea that calling my 604 cell phone number would get you anywhere??? Where'd you get the idea that my personal cell phone number was Customer Care's number in the first place????

Me: I'm not sure whether or not they're open right now, so just be prepared that you might not be able to talk with someone right now.
Guy: Are they closed?
Me: Well, I don't know. But give it a try, and if it doesn't work, you can try again in the morning.
Guy: I don't want anyone using my phone right now.

//OK, first of all, you already said that your plan was unlimited evenings, weekends, and incoming. Even if someone was stupid enough to be awake at this godforsaken hour to use your phone, you would not be billed for it! What are you worried about, that some terrorist would be using it to set up plans for an attack, and that the cell phone records would incriminate you or something?? At the very worst, you'll get charged some money for someone making long distance calls. But even in that case, Customer Care can still fix things up for you. Secondly, this guy showed no understanding at all of how a business operates. It took maybe three minutes to explain that the call centre might not operate 24/7 (confirmed later, as I rooted around the website), and the guy still had no clue that me not being involved in Customer Service meant that I had no clue on how to even direct his call. Do you even have a concept of how big TELUS is, how many employees we have, and how complicated it is to do everything we do?? It might as well be its own city, for all the things that go on, and how many unknown departments handle important things. Anyone who works for a large corporation can testify that it's not easy for one single person to know something about everything in the company. That goes double for me and TELUS Mobility Customer Service. Firstly, I'm in wireline, not Mobility. Secondly, I'm in operations, not Customer Care; I'm as far removed from Customer Care as you can be. Expecting me to know stuff about specific Customer Care procedures is like saying a janitor is an idiot because he doesn't know who a shareholder should contact for questions about a TELUS investment in Quebec.

Me: Well, try giving them a call, but just be prepared that you might not be able to speak with someone tonight. If you can't, then I would suggest calling first thing in the morning.
Guy: OK.
Me: Well, thanks for calling TELUS!
Guy: Bye (click, hang up)

//The guy didn't even thank me. And I can't get back to my blissful state of sleep, so here I am, blogging instead. I swear, tomorrow (today?) better be a good day, because I'm going to be running on pure adrenaline. So why didn't I just tell the guy he just woke me up, and he should never have called me in the first place, and then go back to bed? Because:
1) He never listened to me for the first five minutes. I'm not one to just hang up on people angrily. I want to put things straight first; unfortunately, he wasn't letting me.
2) People complain about TELUS customer service. Well, there are several reasons why TELUS got a bad rap about customer service, but the perception is bigger than reality, and most of those problems have been resolved. We have objective data to back this up. And dang if I was going to let another customer think badly of my employer just because he can't figure out which number to call for customer service, and incorrectly assumes that he's already reached it.
3) I was groggy and had no clue what was happening until it was too late.

Now I'm going to have to wake up in just a few hours all sleepy. It better be a good day....


  1. I'm surprise the conversation lasted that long... a simple "Sorry you've got the wrong number" would suffice.

    So whats the moral of the story? Shutoff your phone at night, hound Telus why that guy was directed to your cell, and never go out of your way to help someone (esp when you're sleeping).

    In my sales job I've always been told to forward the client directly to the other departments involved. Sometimes if you go overboard to help the dude, it could worsen the matter.

    But I guess you just lost some hours of sleep and aggravated mood. Amazing how you could still blog with 2000 words :)


  2. I thought it was all a dream until I got to the end. How the heck did the guy get your number?!

  3. was this a prank? i can't see how someone could get your /personal/ number.... you had way more patience than i would've....

  4. I'll admit.. that's really polite of you to try to help the guy out (though.. the butterfly effect does state that if you were rude to the guy, this may hold unforseen consequences that would be disastrous in the long term). Though, yeah.. how the heck did he get your number??

  5. You are a paragon of patience, Bobby. =)P!