THE BUYER Jade Garrett
Our editorial assistant, Jade Garrett, continues the series in which
Campaign staff check out a product or a service against the promise of
This month, a press insert for Cable & Wireless falls into her lap, and
she asks them just what they can do for her.
Mow that I know what digital is all about, I need to know how much it’s
going to cost me. One of the current Cable & Wireless inserts offers a
free phone number for information on cheaper phone calls and details
about its TV package. It seemed like a good place to start.
My first call, on a Monday morning, was answered by an automated service
and then, two minutes later, by Rose, who told me the new brochures
weren’t ready, and asked me to call back at the end of the week. I
suggested leaving my details on the mailing list, but she said I’d ’wait
ages’ for the brochure. I agreed to call back.
I did so the following Saturday and waited four minutes before I was put
through to an operator. Again I asked for a brochure and they weren’t
ready, so I asked a few questions. The operator spent the next ten
minutes guessing the answers to my questions, beginning most sentences
with ’I’ve no idea ...’. According to him, C&W offers 30 channels (I
thought it was 200), the cost will be pounds 30 (he didn’t think you
would have to pay per view), there will be home shopping and they can
help with internet services.
How will the internet facility work, I asked. ’Well, for pounds 10 a
month you get five e-mail addresses and 10 meg space,’ he said. Meg
space? ’Oh, I don’t know, I’m not very technical but I can give you
another number that can help you with that.’ I tried the number and was
told that it was actually five megabytes of memory, so I’ll have the
facility to put my own page on the web.
I then asked the crunch question: am I in a cable area? I gave him my
postcode and, would you believe it, no I’m not. ’Before you ask,’ he
said, ’they don’t have any immediate plans to service your area.’
Shouldn’t I have been told this at the beginning of the call?
THE SELLER Janet Somerville
Cable & Wireless formed in 1997 when four telecommunications companies
After several internal restructures, Janet Somerville, the director of
marketing, became responsible for its above- and below-the-line consumer
Here, she responds to Jade’s comments.
What can I say other than sorry for the service we gave you? This is not
the type of response we aim to give our customers and prospects when
they call in for information. Our customer service team needs to have a
broad range of expertise covering telephone, TV and internet services,
and digital television is not something that we have yet promoted or
launched. Consequently, they will not have the same level of expertise
in dealing with these hypothetical products.
However, your experience clearly indicates the areas which are in need
of improvement. The correct response to your first call would have been
to explain that we were launching a new service the following Monday and
that brochures were not available until then, but to take your name and
address and send the information the following week.
In an ideal world, all our telesales staff would be able to answer any
questions about all our products. However, with the complexity of the
product range and the constant technical developments, it is more
realistic to assume that even the best training programme will leave
some individuals uncertain about some issues.
Your experience when you called a second time suggests to me that we may
have over-emphasised the need to deal with the customer at the first
point, as it would have been better to pass you to somebody with more
We are launching our interactive digital TV service next year, but that
Monday we launched our Access package which combines TV, free telephone
line rental and internet services. Our telesales team was being briefed
on the new product launch at the time of your enquiry.
September was a record month for our telesales team, answering 350,000
calls and making 88,000 sales. There is always room for improvement, but
I believe our level of performance is only achievable because most of
our telesales assistants give a quality service.