How Good is Customer Service from the Canadian Cell Phone Companies?

Just getting through isn’t enough.

An earlier post discussed the customer service provided by the Canadian cell phone companies, Bell, Rogers and Telus. It was based on a remark by Peter Mansbridge on the CBC TV Nightly News. He said all three were low on the customer service scale as measured in a study they had done. You can now read more on this in CBC Customer Service Survey.
This describes the details of the process:

Working with the CBC Research Department, we developed a unique set of standards that evaluate everything from the interactive voice response system that answers most calls these days, to the time you’re left waiting on hold. We also measured the effectiveness of the operator – how well they understood the caller, how well the caller could understand the operator, and their demeanour.

We called each company three times: once during a weekday, once at night and once on the weekend. Our call researchers kept detailed notes of each call and then scored the company’s performance out of 100

The actual rankings were as follows:

  1. Sears Home Repair Retail 90.9
  2. Bank of Nova Scotia Visa Credit 90.3
  3. Aliant Telephone 86.8
  4. Fidelity Investments Brokerage 86.6
  5. TD Waterhouse Brokerage 86.6
  6. Flight Centre Travel 85.7
  7. Cogeco Cable Cable 84.6
  8. RBC Visa Credit 84.2
  9. Shaw Cable 83.9
  10. Globe and Mail Media 83.2
  11. American Express Credit 80.5
  12. SaskTel Telephone 80.0
  13. Sears Catalogue Retail 78.3
  14. Canadian Tire Retail 75.2
  15. Microsoft Computer 75.1
  16. CBC Media 74.8
  17. TD Canada Trust Visa Credit 74.8
  18. Aeroplan Travel 73.6
  19. Telus Telephone 73.6
  20. Bell Sympatico Computer 72.8
  21. Rogers Wireless Telephone 72.3
  22. WestJet Travel 70.2
  23. CIBC Visa Credit 67.0
  24. Chapters Indigo Retail 65.7
  25. Travel 64.4
  26. Air Canada Travel 64.2
  27. Rogers Cable Cable 64.0
  28. Dell Computer Computer 60.4
  29. National Student Loans Government 60.4
  30. MTS Allstream Telephone 58.0
  31. Rogers Yahoo Internet Computer 57.7
  32. National Post Media 57.1
  33. Telus Internet Computer 56.2
  34. BMO Bank of Montreal Mastercard Credit 53.2
  35. Bell Mobility/Home Phone Telephone 52.7
  36. Sun Life Insurance 51.3
  37. Great West Life Insurance 50.0
  38. Canada Revenue Agency Government 49.0
  39. HBC Retail 48.3
  40. President’s Choice Financial Mastercard Credit 22.8

Certainly it’s surprising that the telephone companies are not higher in using their own technology, the telephone, to provide customer service. As the author of a post on the survey in the CMA – Canadian Marketing Association – Blog commented, he or she had some reservations:

There is one area that leads me to want to ignore the findings of this survey. The size of the sample of the survey was too small. They called the businesses once during the day, once during the evening and once during the weekend. They based their entire satisfaction rating on 3 calls. Most of these businesses will receive millions of calls each year. The sample size is simply too small to make an accurate rating on the level of service provided by these organizations.

Your level of satisfaction with a company has everything to do with who you reach when you call. We all hope for a minimum of fast and excellent service and are satisfied when we receive it. Unfortunately this is not realistic in many cases. Even the highest rated call centres achieve satisfaction ratings in the 80% area. That means 20% of customers are not completely satisfied at any given time.

In fact customer service in general is even worse than these figures show. If you read the small print, you will see that this was only measuring the customer experience. This is just whether you can get through and communicate intelligently with an agent. For that the small size of the samples is not quite so critical. These figures do have some relevance and they are confirming that the telephone companies don’t do too well even on this.

If you do manage to get through, the true measure of customer service is whether the client is satisfied with the outcome. On that it would appear that the Canadian cell phone companies are again falling down as measured by the chatter in the blogosphere. There are a number of reasons for this but the gotchas in the complex rate plans seem high on the list. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the politicians who are usually seeking popularity and votes would take a highly popular decision and open up the Canadian cell phone market to increased competition.

Real Competition Coming To The Canadian Cell Phone Market
Bell Canada Website User Experience

2 thoughts on “How Good is Customer Service from the Canadian Cell Phone Companies?”

  1. I’ve found many of times that customer service agents don’t have a clue what their rates are or how they work. For instance… I’m on a smartphone and when I signed up they told me that because my phone surfs the internet differently I cannot have unlimitted access like on my old cell phone. I said ok, and signed up for the 4 meg plan @ and additional 25 bucks per month. One month I ended up going over this and I called and said how can i fix this.. they then told me “Im surprised your not on the unlimitted plan”. I said well ok.. sign me up.. so they did and the next month I got a huge phone bill and I called them up and said whats the deal? They said that you have no internet plan and that I was surfing @ 15 bucks / meg!! I was shocked and explained that I was told I could be on an unlimitted plan and they told me sorry sir thats incorrect, but I see here that that’s what they signed you up for. She then asked me if I could go on hold and after about 5 mins she came back and reversed the charges. Had I not questioned my bill.. I would of been paying huge fees and do you think they notify you when you are spending lots of money on them. I say nope they don’t, not unless you call them for something.. then they might bring it up.

  2. I’ve run into similar situations myself, Bill. Often agents don’t know what is the right policy, then others deny that another agent may have offered and confirmed something that doesn’t exist. I’ve almost thought of blogging about some of the major problems, but these companies don’t seem to care. They warn you that this call may be monitored .. If only the managers did so and made sure that their representatives did deliver that high quality they talk about.

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