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Consumer Affairs
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Share in misfortune

With a name like ‘Computershare’ you’d think everything would be computer-based with transactions, queries and general business being handled at electronic speed.

Not so. Call the help line and you get this: “Thank you for your call. All of our agents are busy at the moment, but your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.”
During the interval you are asked to enter your ID number followed by a # key “for security purposes.” After five minutes, another automaton comes on the line to say the lines are extremely busy, please call back later!
What service, my jaw drops!
If you ignore this, as we did, we finally got through to a ‘Monty’ after about eight minutes. However, he was unable to help because the number we had been given on Old Mutual’s letter head was a general all share contact centre, whereas evidently enquiries about Old Mutual shares were to be fielded on a completely different number.
So back into the automated system, through all the prompts again and enter the ID number yet again — though it was faster, as a ‘Norman’ picked up after three minutes.
He then asks for my telephone number and postal address ‘for his records’, ignoring the fact that the ID number had already been entered twice — so much for their computer systems.
After an enquiry about shares Norman then asks for my phone number again, yet all this should be on their system! In all, the phone number was given three times, the ID four, and in fact the consumer had to answer more questions than the person supposed to be providing the service! And all taking 35 minutes.
The next chap, ‘Lucas’ asked less questions and was altogether more talkative. The reason the service was so bad, he went on to lament was the “long queue” they had to deal with. The queue was long because, “Too many things come in every day,” he said.
I apologised for trying to be a customer and joked a little that perhaps I should go away — certainly one way to reduce his long queue at least.
In the end the following questions were never answered:
• If the answering systems asks for your ID “for security” purposes, why does the person who finally picks up the call need your telephone number and postal address to verify who you are?
• If “your call is important to us” why did they take 35 minutes to deal with it?
• If you “get too many things” in the queue why don’t you deal with them more efficiently, improve the system, hire more staff, or do night duty?

In other words why don’t they care about their customers? Using technology doesn’t help — it makes matters worse. By Nigel Benetton

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.4 1st May, 2007
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