THE BUYER Jade Garrett

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

its marketing.

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

joined forces.

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.

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