The Hall Of Shame No1: TPG Internet

A personal case study of how TPG did everything they could to lose my custom and defect to one of their competitors by providing poor customer service.

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In the interests of trying to improve the customer experience, I regard it as my civil duty to name and shame organisations who “say” one thing but “do another” to their customers, resulting in a poor customer experience.

Now I know Internet Service Providers are not exactly renowned for providing great customer service. Perhaps you might think they are a soft target…however:
I have been with TPG for 4 years. They provide a good Broadband product and I’ve had no issues….until last week. Then I had to contact them……..

Last year, we moved house so I called TPG to tell them that I wanted an Internet service at my new home and that I wanted the service to my old house to terminate once we had moved. TPG created a second account for me and all was good.
However, last month I noticed that TPG had been debiting my bank account twice each month for the last year. When I investigated, it appeared that they hadn’t ever terminated my old account.

I called the TPG Contact Centre and struggled to explain my situation to an agent whose first language was certainly not english. She closely followed a script and a process and appeared unable to deviate from either. In fairness, she was only doing her job but it fell far short of a great customer experience for me. I felt my blood pressure rise dramatically during the call.

The crux was that TPG insisted that before they could close the old account, let alone refund me, they needed “proof” that I had cancelled the account a year ago. They asked me which phone number I had called them on ( 12 months earlier) so that they could search the voice recording archives!

I argued that it shouldn’t matter. TPG had clearly received monies for a service that hadn’t been used or asked for. I pointed out that my loyalty was at stake. I think this point went right over the Agents head as she just repeated that TPG needed proof.

I then spent over 3 hours last week getting increasingly frustrated at TPG’s reluctance to just refund my money. Having threatened to take my business elsewhere, I think my explanation that I was probably a High Value Customer and that the cost of TPG “replacing” my custom was far greater than refunding my overpaid account was wasted.

I think my justification was lost on the agents who were not empowered to do anything other than impose the rules. My empassioned speech regarding customer lifetime value felt like one of those moments in history where the speech would be quoted in universities for years to come. I felt good! However, perhaps not surprisingly, the speech made no difference.

I then resorted to using “angry” words in the hope that TPG use Contact Centre voice analytical software which identifies when customers are getting frustrated and can cause an escalation to a Supervisor. That didn’t work either!
Therefore, I made a stand and refused to pay my bill on my existing account saying that my refund would cover it.

Yesterday, I got an email from the billing department threatening to cut off my service!
When I called the Accounts department, I had to explain the situation all over again only for me to be eventually routed back to the long suffering Customer service agent who must be getting sick of my attempts to exhaust the english vocabulary searching for escalation trigger words!

That was the point I realised that TPG clearly have not developed a single integrated view of the customer! The left hand had no idea what the right hand had done or said to me!

Finally, today, TPG finished their investigations (to establish blame) and declined to refund me. I therefore was at that “moment of truth” that long suffering customers eventually face when the value of the customer relationship and/or product/service is superceded by the pain of the poor service . I had to make a choice to put up with TPG’s poor service and good product or churn.

As of today, I am now a Dodo customer and got an even better deal than I had with TPG. The initial thoughts on their customer service was favourable too but it is early days.

6 Steps to Retention

My point is this: If TPG had understood customer loyalty, lifetime value or even about the need for a great customer experience, they would have immediately sought to take steps to retain my business (see above). They should have taken ownership and recognised that it really doesn’t matter whose fault it was. The cost of keeping me satisfied would be paid back many times over by my ongoing loyalty and by the recommendations I would make. Had they been keener to resolve the issue without question, I would not have considered churning. In other words, they had not taken any of the six steps that organisations should invest in to create greater customer retention.

I hope that someone from TPG gets to read this post. My personal churn will not cause them to be overly concerned but unless lessons are learnt, their business will be outstripped by others who do understand the value of customer retention strategies.

On the other hand, I also had a fantastic customer experience with YOUI Car insurance so will post about that soon.

Author: Nick Davey

Evangelist, Strategist, Leader, Implementor, Author, Speaker and all round nice guy, Nick has built his entire career on improving the management of customers both from a customers perspective "looking in" and from within an organisation "looking out". You might call it CRM. Customer Relationship Management or, as Nick often says, Constantly Realigning Misconceptions. Nick reiterates that his comments are his own personal comments and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, strategy or views of any previous employer or customer.. He is delighted to be impartial and able to share ideas with open minded and collaborative professionals around the world. Outside of his passion for CRM, Nick pursues other less demanding passions such as Scuba Diving, Native Wildlife (e.g Wallaby) Rescue and Rehabilitation, Amateur Flying and watching as much Sport as his long suffering wife will permit.

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