When customer services is less important than profit.

COVID-19 impacted the world economy like no other event. It came very quickly and many companies were not prepared for their staff to be suddenly working remotely.

The majority of office workers have in the most part been working from home since March, those which are less fortunate have been furloughed.

For some businesses have had a down turn in sales but needed to maintain customer services (such as most travel businesses) and those businesses have managed reasonably well to manage the increase in demand. Those companies I applaud, their income has dropped but they managed to maintain a good level of customer services.

The problem is with companies who’s income remains high who are making it difficult for consumers to get the service they need. These companies have reported stable profits and been mostly unaffected by COVID-19.

A couple of examples that I’ve personally encountered.

During this period I’ve needed to make various calls. Virgin Mobile for example have ceased their chat, and their phones queue indefinitely (I gave up after more than 10 attempts). Other companies such as e-commerce giants have removed their phone numbers entirely, and I think this isn’t acceptable.

Sainsbury’s on numerous occasions have incorrectly delivered products, and fail to refund or resolve. You’re asked to email, but emails go unanswered. So it’s down to the customer to contact Sainsbury’s to resolve. The phone experience is challenging, you might get answered eventually but the person who answers isn’t trained or able to service, so disconnects you, if you’re lucky you might get answered to be passed to someone else and on goes the pain.

Setting up a remote workspace and a sip phone client on a cloud based phone system isn’t complex, enabling access to systems remotely isn’t that difficult. We can adapt to a remote workforce. To withdraw phone numbers and to be unable to answer calls at all is an example of some businesses intentionally furloughing staff to receive subsides and not enabling its staff to operate as it should do.

Maybe we were unfortunate with when we contacted these businesses. I understand businesses need to make a profit to survive, if buy some luck you have more sales then you can afford to increase your customer services teams, but clearly for these businesses that’s not something they’ve done.

I switched from Virgin Mobile, and stopped buying from Sainsbury’s online.