Targets for customer services

A&A have high standards internally, and aim to provide the best technical support we can (as a very technical ISP) and obviously provide good customer services.

This target is a tad vague and not one that is easy to measure. The best measure of success is the glowing reports we get on thinkbroadband and ispreview.

The fact we have a couple of less than glowing reports on ispreview has sparked much discussion in the office to try and work out if we did anything wrong. I could go in to details, but someone not reading invoices and not knowing the VAT rate changed is difficult to address, as is someone that has an objective to take us to ADR "to waste our time" and not actually trying to resolve a dispute. Even so, we want to work out if we could have handled these cases better.

It is tricky to have objective targets for "customer service". You have to always be careful what you measure as you end up with a machine to make good measurements and not actually do what you want.

I have generally been happy to work on this vague target and look carefully at feedback rather than trying to make specific measurements.

Of course, we have a separate target we work to in terms of "did we do something wrong" which is the agreed contract terms. If we met the agreed terms we have done what we agreed - everything above doing that is an internal target we have.

But should ISPs and telcos be required to work to some higher standard - some customer service target that we are expected to meet, and penalised if we do not meet it?

I assumed not. I assumed it would be down to ISPs to do business in an open market and those that have poor customer service (whilst still doing what they agreed) would simple have less business as people are prepared to pay for good customer service.

Yesterday I went over all of the ADR stuff yet again, providing details for our MP, who is interested in pursuing the matter. I realised that the whole ADR case only makes any sense if there is some "higher standard" of customer services that we are, as an industry, expected to meet. After all, they agreed we were not in breach of contract and all the "shortfalls" were failures to meet some unspecified and unknown targets that they have invented.

So we'll try again and ask them what these standards are exactly?
How do we measure them and so ensure we meet them?
What is the prescribed penalty for failing to meet them in various ways?

Only if we know this can we sensibly work in this business environment. We can't have unknown standards with unknown penalties.

Lets see what they say...

In the mean time, we'll stick to our aim of being the best we can.


  1. Realistically, you will never be able to please everyone no matter how hard you try, there are those people out there who are fundamentallY "unpleasable" in everything they do and perhaps it is them that should lower their expectations than force you to raise yours. Personally I think the honest, matter of fact and extremely good service A&A provide is by far some of the best i have seen in this industry.

    1. Indeed - it is so hard not to reply to the ispreview comments - I am happier saying things here but I am sure if I reply there it will look like sour grapes of some sort. Very frustrating. At least the one with the VAT rate change looks silly on its own with no reply :-)

    2. I know this feeling well. I ran a 3 day event last year and have been sorting the feedback out and there were so many things like "I did not like X" when we didn't even HAVE X. Or "Y was a problem" when I know that person didn't report Y to anyone who could have fixed it. SO annoying but I think a certain level of "people are stupid" and try not to let it affect you personally is needed.

      Easier said than done. And yes, agreed re leaving stupid comments unresponded to. You CAN only do what you can do and time is better spent making things overall better than worrying about stupid people at the expense of time/energy for making things better,

  2. If the berk who took you to ADR had the aim of wasting your time, he succeeded in buckets. He has cost you the time and money, when possibly he need only have cost you the money. After all, if the ADR will find against you no matter what, then what invest any time into it at all?

  3. I would also point out that it's easy to criticise anonymously, and not that hard to criticise pseudonymously - especially when the pseudonym is not linked to anything you care about. Heck, there exist people paid to produce critical reviews of companies - if your competition is getting glowing reviews, pay a shady PR firm to try and drag them down.

    As you seem to have worked out for yourself, the best you can do is refuse to engage with the stupid. Let them stand out as oddities in people's reviews of you, and let the really stupid ones say more about the commenter than about you. In the meantime, work out what you can do to ensure that these reviews are sufficiently rare that they're perceived as anomalies.

    1. In this case we can identify both reviews easily.

      One has has the same service at the same (ex VAT) price for a decade even though we offered him alternatives. Some people would love the "unlimited" tariff he was on. He decided to leave when he realised his usage allowed a tariff of half the price and he had not read any emails or invoices.

      One clearly has some exception requirements - unhappy that there are major outages in BT (Faraday) and refusing to replace a router that does not reconnect after outages, and threatening ADR for that and for an email bounced by a third party. So we have given 30 days notice to terminate service. We did so in writing too but he has "refused" the letter - the irony for someone that feels a bounced email is our fault. Maybe we need to blame royal mail for his "bounced" letter.

  4. I find AAISP quite inferior in one aspect to the ISPs that a lot of people at work use. They get to complain about their ISP quite a lot, and I feel left out of the conversation having to say urm, well, it just seems to work really. Complaining is fun!

  5. Just out of curiosity, what is the best way to pass suggestions back to AA? Not to complain but just to feed back and comment on our experiences and observations?

    1. The contact emails on the web site would be fine. Always happy to get feedback.


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