It is difficult sometimes to really put the finger on what is wrong. I don’t usually do this, but in this day of User Experience, one wonders if anyone one the decision making side is living in the real world. I am not saying that there is such thin as a real world, just that the common “real world” sensation is what we can call a user experience.
I’m talking about the experience I had with the Mexican Internet provider Axtel.
What happened is a breakdown in my Internet connection. I was annoyed; after all I do rely on my Internet connection for my work. So I called my provider. Just like every one of you, I got in touch with a machine. I guess it’s the company’s way of letting you know that they understand that when you call them, it is because something went wrong and you might be distraught or annoyed. The machine asked my number thereby identifying me perfectly and went on to tell me that my next bill will be 316 pesos and that I will be due on December 13th. Wow, they really do wish to welcome me to their service and show me that they care about me by reminding me that I am up to date with my payments! Then the machine once more asks me to press the right buttons to know if I wish to report an incident, if it is phone only or internet, and if I wish to be put in contact with an assistant, and that I better watch what I say because the conversation will be recorded.
When I finally get the human being, he asks me who I am and what is my phone line is (the one which I entered via keyboard a few seconds earlier). This makes me feel like the whole ordeal I just went through to finally reach a person was totally useless.
Then the usual process of trying to describe what is the problem starts. Nothing special here, until the moment when they decide they have to send a technician. They can’t find a time slot for my service until 2 days have past.
When the person comes, (2 days after the initial call) he check the connections and the equipment in the house, then checks out in the street. Doesn’t find the problem. Goes to some switchboard a block or two away and comes back saying the problem is general and some other service will fix it. They leave. No more news from them.
I call the company a few times, they tell me the complaint is logged, the issue is open, and the “engineers are on it”. Nobody seems to know more, or wants to tell me more, or cares at all about what happens.
Next day, I call again saying it has been three days, and having been reminded that I paid my bill, could I be granted a free month for the hassle and the faulting service. The person mechanically answered that the procedure calls for a discount on the bill for the downtime that they will determine. Then they informed me that another technician was going to come because the fault as it turns out isn’t in their network.
The next day (yes, one more day!), the technician comes and checks my connections again, then goes out in the street again. Goes up the pole (there still are poles in Mexican cities) and finds that the connector is faulty. Changes it and voila!
4 days, and a 30 peso discount later, I have my internet connection back!
Well I used my 3G/4G connection for 4 days, so I survived. But this exemplifies the lack of humanity, care, and understanding that corporations and the people working in them have.
In truth, I just wanted someone to do their best to solve the problem I had with a service I bought.
In truth, I know changing operator will not change a thing on my long-term user experience.
Yes the service is contractual; the contract solely considers that providing the Internet connection is the service.
But the system is terribly dehumanizing. I am not the first person, or the last person to note this but the solution seems soooo attainable. Not by calling upon consultants, nor experts, nor changing company structure. Only changing the focus, the messages, the details in treatment. Had the first team cared, they would have I identified the faulty connector the first time. Had the dispatcher cared, he would have rerouted a little his technical team. Had the IT management cared they would have made the answering service less aggressive.
It is sad to note that the service industry is far from our humanity, our emotions. One should think that the basic role of a service is to fill a need. I'm not talking about a desire made urgent by social pressure or carefully planned marketing. No. I am speaking of simple basic human needs, like caring and being cared for, cherishing and being cherished, and overall belonging in ones group... be it family, city, country, or client of a service industry!