This morning my cell phone internet connection went down. I called MTN, a giant network carrier, but could not get hold of anyone despite three calls.
My first call to their 808 number was 3 minutes and forty one seconds with no one answering. The second call I placed lasted 8 minutes and forty one seconds. I could not wait any longer because I had to attend a meeting. I made a third call but was cut off by the company. I therefore had to spend about 13 minutes on hold without anyone answering. Eventually after five hours the connection came back … without a word from MTN.
Even though something like this may not be worth talking about compared to customers who have been treated far worse by this company and other similar companies, it nevertheless highlights just how bad things have become.
Service has spiralled downwards, prices for data are stratospheric and coverage is poor or non-existent even in urban areas.
Complaints flood cell phone companies. But service remains abysmal. You see, these companies have got so large that they don’t care at all. Their pretence about giving good service in the beginning to lure you in as a customer has all but gone.
With lack of competition and pricing that appears collusive it is so similar, business owners who rely on cell phone communications are at the mercy of these monolithic corporations.
Now that the growth in cell phone networks is faltering because the economy combined with mismanagement and poor governance, users can only expect “service” to get worse. The deterioration is quickening and will only get worse because these greedheads don’t give a damn.
Where it gets really interesting is the number of complainants that have to resort to websites that name and shame these behemoths. Yes, some of these complaints are eventually solved but in a manner that keeps the complainant on the back foot. Sadder is that these sites are filled with complaints that are simply ignored and no action is taken.
Even when you try to complain direct to the company via their web page nothing happens. Your complaint is never answered. If you make a follow up call later you can’t even get through to the company. One company, Grundig Business Systems, got back to me about a complaint two weeks later and openly stated that their software has a problem (which they did not disclosure at point of purchase) and there was nothing that could be done about it.
Why is it important to know about these horror stories? Because small business owners put their business at risk by being dependent on these cell phone networks. Reliance on any one carrier can potentially put you out of business communications for hours if not days.
Don’t think the fixed line carrier can be useful. Rely on them and you may have OK service for a while but when cables are stolen or rats eat through them, it can take weeks before lines will be fixed.
In small businesses that don’t rely heavily on telecommunications a breakdown in service may not be such a big deal. A backup cell phone with a second carrier may tide you through an emergency or crisis.
But for retail businesses with high cell and telephone contact, smaller private networks may provide a more reliable level of service with minimal downtime.
The good news for smaller businesses is that high levels of customer service — just showing customers common decency — will be recognised and appreciated. While the gigantic institutions see customer service as absolutely unnecessary, smaller firms who view it as core to their business hold a competitive advantage with their customers.