technology service providers

Customer complaints stem from follow-up, not service issues

Of the 1,300+ complaints filed against technology service providers (telecommunications, ISP, satellite TV, etc.) in Missouri and Kansas, 30 percent end with customers requesting the cancellation of their service.

These providers undoubtedly observe the impact of that number but may lack understanding as to why it’s so high. Without knowing why, they won’t know the best way to effectively reduce the number of cancellation requests.


Understanding the Pattern

At first glance, a customer’s desire to cancel appears unrelated to the origin of the problem. BBB categorizes complaints by the issue of primary importance to the customer. Customers most commonly choose the following categories when filing complaints against technology service providers (TSPs):

  • Service issues: 23.4 percent
  • Billing issues: 14.5 percent
  • Sales issues: 13.9 percent
  • Customer service issues: 10.8 percent

This data makes for a confusing contradiction. It shows that the most important issue facing complainants is lack of service. However, cancellation of service is the most common desired resolution.

A thorough review of the text of complaints reveals that categories are not easily isolated when it comes to technology services. Each point of contention bleeds heavily into others. The complaints are similar, regardless of category, but customers choose different steps along the way as the origin of their dissatisfaction, and the BBB categorizes them accordingly.

Complaints are categorized as follows:

  1. A customer feels misled about a service promised to them. (sales issue)
  2. The customer does not receive the promised service. (service issue)
  3. The business cannot correct the issue. (customer service issue)
  4. The customer cancels service but continues to be charged or is charged a termination fee. (billing issue)

Regardless of the category chosen, a large number of customers tell a story in which they were promised service they did not receive but were charged for it anyway.


Forming a Solution

The initial problem experienced by a customer is never the cause of a complaint. Complaints are motivated by the escalating frustration experienced during follow up engagement.

First, customers expect what they have been promised. Second, they expect a speedy resolution to interruptions of the promised service. Anything outside these expectations increases the customer’s frustration and pushes them closer to filing a complaint with a third party.

While all this may seem obvious, the simplicity can prove deceptive. Frustrated customers react differently from one another.

Many businesses feel blindsided by complaints because customers can remain calm while they express dissatisfaction. This behavior sets some businesses at ease, causing them to de-prioritize upset but polite customers. Businesses don’t realize their actions backfired until it’s too late.

Based on these common problems, the following steps will go a long way in keeping cancellation requests in check.

  • Take notes // Notes are simple and effective tools used to track a customer’s level of frustration during customer service calls. Notes help customer service representatives (CSR) identify potential complaints without relying on conspicuous signs such as yelling.
  • Create a flowchart // Make a flowchart of the typical customer service interaction. A good chart can decode the likelihood of a customer complaint. Along with the notes taken during previous calls, it assists CSRs in knowing who can best help the customer, whether it be a manager or a technician.
  • Training // Sales representatives should be able to explain a company’s policies, coverage areas and service limitations. They should be trained on when to provide information vital to a customer’s purchasing decision. Customers will file complaints if they feel locked into contracts for services that a business can’t provide. Ensuring accurate and consistent communication about services a business can and cannot provide during first contact with the customer will limit complications later.

Staff members need to demonstrate clear communication with one another and be provided with consistent training. Technicians can explain “why” to a service rep, but the rep must have the foundational knowledge to understand and convey the “why” to customers. It can help give customers a timeline for resolution as well as options for the best course of action.