Inbound and the case of telco in Portugal #1

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I'll start by making a disclaimer, working in branding and advertising for over 15 years I never really knew what the word Inbound meant and I believe many colleagues from traditional areas still smile whenever they hear this word. Working in inbound is not prestigious until today but I believe that will change very soon.

Unfortunately it is not only our colleagues from the traditional areas that do not know the concept of inbound, the telecommunications companies in Portugal not only do not know it but they run over it every day, leaving thousands and thousands of dissatisfied customers every week.

In fact according to Anacom there were 57.8 thousand complaints in the first half of 2020, a growth of 25% compared to the same period of the previous year.

The ranking of complaints gives us Meo in first place with 351 PT1T of complaints, followed by Nós with 321 PT1T, Vodafone with 291 PT1T and Nowo with 31 PT1T, the main reasons being the billing of undue amounts for non-services or consumption not provided and post-cancellation.

This is a disaster at customer management.

Screen Shot 2020 11 18 at 16.21.42

But what does this record of complaints have to do with Inbound?Everything!

Inbound is a philosophy that puts the customer at the center of organizations, and defines as the main goal of a company and its teams, the ability of the brand to attract, engage and delight customers throughout the customer journey.

To do this Inbound draws on a few principles such as the need to add and show value to the customer in every interaction, or the design of a fantastic customer experience at every stage.

To this end, it bases much of its operation on technological platforms, such as the Hubspotwhich allow a total sharing between all teams (sales, marketing, customer service, operations) of all information and interactions that existed with a customer (emails, recorded calls, site visits, chat, everything is recorded).

Hubspot Client Panel Picture

hubspot the n1 inbound platform - one contact panel crystal

As a customer management philosophy, inbound considers that successful companies are those that manage to convert their customers into ambassadors of the company and for this it is essential to have a long-term perspective in the management of the relationship with the customer.

For sure, many of those who read me have had frustrating experiences with Meo, Nós or Vodafone. Any phone call reporting a problem starts with a description of the problem. Sooner or later, we are passed on to another person in the team, to whom we are obliged to report the same story. After a few days we get a call from a technician to whom we report the same story. There seems to be no record of anything we say. Maybe there is, but it is not evident in the interactions with the various departments. They seem disconnected from each other.

The experience starts to deteriorate here, and it gets worse when problems are not resolved.

As the problems persist over weeks or months, many of us do what anyone does when a service is not being provided, we seek to cancel that service. And then the real nightmare begins.

Cancellation phone calls to any of these brands' call centres are truly traumatic experiences. They begin in a cordial tone, with suggestions for technical solutions and end in threats from the operators with a bill of hundreds of euros, which, if not paid, can amount to thousands.

At this point, the brand is no longer talking to a customer, but to a potential future customer, and threatening them or demanding penalties of hundreds of euros is clearly a bad start to the conversation, especially when the previous experience was already negative.

Perhaps there are still people who fall into this trap, give in to blackmail and persist with a terrible service, but with the increase in consumer information the chances of success of this strategy are less and less. Anyone who wants to find out how to terminate this service you can do it here.

But not content with that brands still try to sink further, making it as difficult as possible to terminate with or without penalties. They force you to go to a brand store (in times of pandemic covid), or worse send a letter by mail, which requires a trip to the postal service store (CTT) another nightmare.

In some cases, people don't even manage to end their relationship by going to the store, continuing to pay month after month as they get lost in this veritable maze of contract termination.

From here the brand is no longer talking to a potential customer, but to an enemy who will spread their experience throughout their network of close contacts, damaging the company's reputation as much as possible.

While the brand offers this kind of treatment to its customers or potential customers, simultaneously it spends millions on advertising campaigns, sponsorships of music festivals or other entertainment content trying to attract new customers, in two completely opposite and absurd moves.

music concert
Inbound and the case of telco in Portugal 1TP3Q1 4

Wouldn't a small portion of those millions be better spent building a fantastic customer experience throughout their journey?

Why not create a truly efficient customer service and technical support experience that cares about solving and resolving customer issues?

And if things still fail, because all systems fail, why not create an even better exit experience, after all at this point we will be talking to a potential future customer.

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