By Amy Brooke
Operationally inadequate? AIR New Zealand, Southern Cross, Vodafone, the major banks, power and communication companies?
Contrary to the mantra that competition is always good, the now constant practice of cutting corners in tendering for contracts has led in many cases to substandard results – and poor outcomes for the public. At least as equal a deterioration in service to the public at large has been the push by major corporations to maximise profits by under-resourcing their customer service centres. New Zealanders are all now well and truly exposed to the tedium and time-wasting procedures involved in trying to call our corporate giants.
We are familiar with the outcome…that those wishing to call these corporations have to jump through the hoops, instructed to follow through a sequence of numbers, selecting those which take the caller to another sequence where further choices are delineated – and so on – possibly without encountering even one with any relation at all to the query which prompted the call.
The wait to hear back from an operator to gather the required information too often becomes not only unacceptably long – but basically insulting to customers. So is the repetitive sales pitch, relentlessly forced upon those waiting. The conclusion to which many New Zealanders have now come is that the waste of their valuable time – and the repetitive procedures they are required to undertake while holding a phone, waiting to get needed information – are not only irritating: it has all become completely unacceptable.
Add on the unwanted, third-rate musical trash forced upon customers unable to choose to avoid this – song after song played on – a form of virtual mental torture to those who would never choose to voluntarily listen to these maddening impositions – and the time to challenge these substandard practices is now overdue.
What we are faced with is sheer incompetence on the part of these corporations in that they are not meeting the needs of their customers. It is either is an operational failure on their part to not take this into account – or a deliberate avoidance of their responsibility to answer to the public – and to provide a quality service.
Southern Cross, for example, have a nerve suggesting customers contact them by phone, when one can wait for 20 minutes or longer before hanging up, as not only is time precious, but one is unable, during this time, to take or make other calls. When this process is repeated again throughout the day, with even longer wait times experienced across the whole spectrum of telecommunication companies, it not only becomes a source of irritation, but one of increasing stress – which can be argued to have become a public health issue.
And when, as with other corporate excuses with which we are over-familiar, we hear the usual “due to unexpected caller demand… or “due to higher than usual call ratios…” we are not impressed. What it is all essentially due to is that same cost-cutting – cutting corners – the underemployment of needed staff to swiftly and efficiently answer calls.
Government departments, too, are equally culpable.
The problem, the same as in many areas and in other organisations in this country lies with those in charge – with management – management in many cases substantially overvalued and substantially overpaid and – not infrequently – arguably incompetent.
This whole culture needs to be increasingly challenged, what equates to gross mismanagement – the failure to employ and allocate more staff leading to the failure to provide an efficient service… epitomising a basic lack of respect for the public.
When individuals say they are no longer prepared to tolerate these substandard practices, things will change. The solution lies, as always, in our own hands – in not merely grumbling – but in challenging these substandard practices.
Combined efforts achieve great changes…
© Amy Brooke
— Amy BrookeVisit my homepage and children’s literature website: www.amybrooke.co.nz