Biznews recently published an article from Mandy Collins, which looked at the issues when dealing with call centres in general. Her grievance was with Vodacom but gathering by the levels of reader feedback, the case is not an isolated point. Vodacom did eventually send a response, and we felt it necessary to also give them the right to reply. Read below. – Stuart Lowman
By Mandy Collins*
It took a great deal of badgering on social media, but I received a reply to my emailed questions from Vodacom. As a screenshot might be hard to read, I have simply copied and pasted the email from Tshepo Ramodibe into the body of this blogpost. I have not edited or made any alterations.
The subject depleting data has undeniably been topical and not limited to a specific service provider.
The public interest conversation and questions are welcomed.
1) What is a reasonable time for customers to expect to hear back from Vodacom when they log a query regarding their account?
Our ambition is to deal with the majority of customer queries in real time as soon as they are received. Currently we are able to solve more than 75% of all customers’ queries during the first customer contact. Some queries, like yours, are complex and need longer time to investigate. We invest time to ensure that we are able to give thorough feedback and resolve the issue.
2) What steps are being put in place to provide a credible, reliable way to measure data usage and bill accurately?
All together our free USSD service and the My Vodacom App tools that customers can use to monitor balances and manage usage. For USSD, customers can dial *111# and follow prompts. The My Vodacom App can also be used to manage accounts on the go, as long as customers are connected to the internet.
If customers are still worried that data bundles are being used faster than expected, they should get in touch with us to investigate. On the whole, we have confidence in our billing systems and have been able to trace consumption in all instances.
3) What steps are being taken to change the way Vodacom interfaces with clients that will indicate that Vodacom takes them seriously, cares about their concerns, and values their custom?
We value and appreciate all our 32 million plus customers. Our main channel to engage with customers is through our Customer Care Department. We have more than 2000 customer care representatives across the country to deal with customer questions and queries. Moreover, we have a dedicated technical data help desk that investigates any data related queries we receive from customers.
We invite all customers to get in touch with us by dialling 111 from their cellphones or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org (Mon to Sun from 06:00 to 22:00). Customer care services are available 365 days a year.
4) What is the process now for all of the customers who do feel that their queries around sudden, mysterious data loss have been ignored by your customer service department? Are you setting up a specific task team to deal with this? What specific measures are you putting in place?
We have a data help desk that investigates any data related queries we receive from customers; we encourage customers to send queries to us via email on email@example.com with Data enquiry in the subject line. http://help.vodacom.co.za/personal/emailus/?aq=Data%20enquiry
5) What recourse do customers have if they disagree with the explanation they get around their data use?
In all instances, we strive to resolve all received queries amicably by providing each customer with feedback on where and how data was used. This remains a standing commitment.
In the instance that customers remain dissatisfied, ICASA is the mandatory body that looks at matters of data, quality of networks and call services, among other things. This, however, should be the last resort as we remain committed closing all queries to the satisfaction of our loyal customers.
Tips to manage your data usage
•Switch off your data connection when you’re not using it. Apps often perform functions behind the scenes that will use data without your realising it.
•Turn off automatic updates over data connections and rather use Wi-Fi for backing up lots of files or updating your apps.
• Check how much data individual apps are using and adjust the settings where possible to avoid using your data connection.
•Make sure you have a quality anti-virus program on your device such as Norton or Symantec.
•Streaming music and watching movies on your phone uses data very quickly – use with caution.
• Make sure that you have signed up for the right amount of data for your needs to avoid running out before month end.
•Pay attention to the Vodacom SMS notifications that let you know that your data bundle is running low or has been depleted and buy additional data bundles if needed.
I did ask for clarity on what USSD stood for (just because I’m a pedantic old hack) but more importantly, I asked what customers are to do when their SMS notification says they have one amount of data, and dialling *111# shows they have a different amount of data.
The email also fails to address those incidences where people’s devices have been switched off completely and they have still lost data.
In both cases, your recourse must be to ICASA, as far as I can see, and I am unable to help any further, as my issue was resolved, and individual people will have to plead their specific cases.
But I do urge consumers to hold their service providers accountable – on any network – and not to be browbeaten into simply giving up. Ask when you will receive feedback, and when it doesn’t arrive, follow up, and don’t give up until you get an answer that you are satisfied. It’s exhausting, but it has to be done. If enough of us demand that basic customer service levels are adhered to, eventually this will hopefully become standard practice.
After all, your call is important to them. Or so they say.
* Mandy Collins has worked as a journalist for more than two decades. She has a passion for good business writing and communication, with a particular focus on plain language use.
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