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back to article British customers miffed at email response times

British consumers are unhappy with the time it takes for email queries to be answered, according to a new report. The study, by hosting firm Fasthosts Internet, showed that 78 per cent of British consumers have been disappointed by a slow response to a customer service email enquiry, with the average consumer sending three …

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Yep

My home ADSL's been down since yesterday, I've tried phoning plusnet but gave up after 15 minutes of being on hold, I've reported it through their on-line support rubbish and haven't heard a thing back from them, just as well I'm not on a 12 month contract as they can stick it as far as I'm concerned.

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Anonymous Coward

Slowhost ?

If the people are customers of fasthost sorry slowhost, there is the reason that the emails are not being responded to, they never got there, or will do in a block about 2 days past never.... "But it's not our problem! check you settings" to quote fasthost support.

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Hardley surprising

The majority of email enquiries seem to be dealt with by the telecentre staff who only reply when they have no calls.

If you email after waiting for hours on a phone line for an operator you can bet the email response is going to be even worse.

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Anonymous Coward

Definitely agreed

No company would ever keep a user hanging on the phone for two days, so why should they treat emailers any different?

It's high time that EVERY company was required by law to publish an email address, to acknowledge receipt of emails immediately on receipt and to ANSWER them in not more than two HOURS.

But what's worse is the "ebay mentality" where the recipient doesn't actually READ the email but picks out a few keywords and picks a random FAQ that just "might" answer the question. Most times it doesn't.

Of course, part of the problem is that emails wouldn't be needed if every company had well-presented and fully detailed information on their website. It shouldn't be necessary to email for price or availablility of standard items or delivery costs -- all that information, and a categoric statement of the day on which it will be delivered, should be available FROM the web site -- and absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS, thankyou.

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Anonymous Coward

Thats Rich

I contacted fasthosts sales, twice, with a view to purchasing an account.

Guess what, they never answered.

Hope you are reading this fasthosts!!!

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Email response is shocking....

But atleast the response to smalls claims court online (www.moneyclaim.gov.uk) is much much quicker

Dealing with airlines is often the worst I find, online booking, online hell desk an no customer service.

4 weeks after sending the first email and still no answer - file the court claim online and they do move a lot faster (and it costs them a little more but thats their problem)

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Anonymous Coward

Rufus the consultant!

Rufus should set up as a consultant and sell his customer service expertise to these companies!

(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/22/fotw/)

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Ash

Quality, not quantity

I'd be willing to wait 3 days or more for an reply that solved my issue!

However, waiting any more than 0.2 seconds for an automated scripted generic message telling me to check the FAQ etc is not acceptable.

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Abandon email!

British Business needs to sharpen up its customer service response all round, email is just one aspect of an increasingly poor performance. Between clueless staff, unanswered emails, expensive non geographic numbers and those woeful Indian call centres, it is getting almost impossible to get any satisfaction.

I want to use my inclusive calls (for which I pay a fee) to call a UK geographic number to speak to someone in my time zone, someone who has my language as thier first language. Is that too much to ask of any company that gets a large share of business from the UK market?

Considering that generally my calls are in rsponse to a company making a pigs ear out of something, I deeply resent having to waste time on repeated attempts to get a reply by email, (in fact I have abandoned that route as a waste of time) or having to pay what is for many of us a premium rate to sort out a b*lls up made by a company.

More than one company has lost my business because of this.

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Letter

Part of the problem seems to be that people expect companies to treat emails like phone calls and answer strait away, but company’s treat them as letters and put them at the bottom of the pile to be answered in order. I dont know which is better though.

An email that takes a long time is better than a call centre idiot who knows nothing, but a call centre with good staff is even better, but taking over a week to reply to an email is not on.

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Anonymous Coward

Email fasthosts

If the people are customers of fasthost sorry slowhost, there is the reason that the emails are not being responded to, they never got there, or will do in a block about 2 days past never.... "But it's not our problem! check you settings" to quote fasthost support.

Should have added, it was via their webbased sales enquiry page

ROFL

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State of Play

Having worked in a number of large UK companies, it's clear that the companies don't invest in staff.

Either companies don't emply a reasonable number of staff, or they don't train and empower staff to do do their jobs properly.

I also find that lower level management who are in charge of staff are pretty useless.

This all boils down to crap customer service. It's gonna be a long time before email gets sorted out.

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Anonymous Coward

That and they top-read only the first sentence alot of the time.

My personal dealings with customer service using email have been very lamentable. Indeed response times akin to almost years. in dealing with Kingston-Upon-Thames council I have personaly sent them emails which have been recieved at there end and replied to over 3 months later, only for me to have resolved that problem by having to take a day of work and go down and wait for over and hour for a 2 minute problem. Of course they managed to them two weeks later create an entirely new problem, one that was resolved via a simple phone call, very easily. I would add that the response to the initial problem was replied along the lines that there was no problem, indeed after that time lag I had actualy resolved the problem via other means.

My conclusion: I have as much faith in my local council responding to an email than I would in them organising a meal in McDonalds with 100£ cash in there hands and no queue's. Dont know how, dont know why, but they will find a way to totaly murphy things up and of course but the issue on your doorstep demanding what you are going to do about there mess and oh can we have more council tax as were fraggels.

I'm half expecting a Y2K alert from them sometime next year there so on the ball.

Though there is a upshot: Word your emails like legal threats and attach an invoice for your time were payment will be free with replied(paid for) within 10 days (or whatever there `charter` says). Then when they fails to reply - take them to court for non-payment. Not like they wouldn;t do the same with a council tax bill mess which is there fault. So seems like the only fair way to deal with these lack-luster people.

Also sadly enough they tend to acknowledge FAX's very quickly, is this the green forward thinking types of people we want to deal with. We can elect the officials but still dont stop the institutionalised fraggels breading there mental carbon foot-prints all over us and then blaming us for it.

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Customer Service Shake Up

Emails in this day and age should be dealt with as quickly as possible.

I don't think 2 hours is too long to wait for a response, even if it is as simple as "I am the person dealing with your query and will endeavour to have it resolved by 8pm/tomorrow/whenever"

We are in dire need of a wholesale return to values for customer services in general.

I try my best to stay using companies who give local support and have knowledgeable staff. The funny situation is, it's these companies that have fewer issues.

Like Cris says above, nothing worse than having to pay a premium to complain or resolve an issue.

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RE: Fasthosts

Oddly enough, I sent Fasthosts a sales enquiry via their web form 2 days ago, and was rather taken aback by the fact that my phone rang about 90 seconds later. Maybe I was just lucky.

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Anonymous Coward

Couldn't agree more.

I'd say that on average, 3/4 emails to UK companies, be it enquiries, queries or complaints go answered. I know they got it, because I get back the automated reply. Then nada.

I deal with US firms a lot - they are much more on the ball.

Maybe someone should set up a website which logs emails to companies, and forwards them on. It could display the original email, and the response. Give it the ability to group by company and search for the slowest/quickest response, and maybe firms will start responding ...

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Anonymous Coward

I've found excellent response times...

Quite easy really - after the third request goes unanswered, i find that copying a CEO/CFO/MD or equivalent of said organisation, you get a really quick response and your problem resolved very pronto. And I know, from my experience working in tech support, that when these kind of mails come in, it takes priority over all other queries. Most of the ivory tower inhabitants don't like this crap/reality left on their doorstep; they'll move heaven and earth to get it sorted out. Sad that this is the route that you have to travel, but if it gets the job done....

Oh, and I get a real satisfaction from writing a calm but very "I'm a pissed off customer" email. :)

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Customer Service is dead

<Rant Mode: On>

Its true, there is nothing but Customer Disservice left in this world and we are kinda to blame. Don't get me wrong, there is no excuse for failing to serve your customers. I have had possibly the worst customer service ever from the likes of (I love naming names) o2 on many occasions, BT, NThell, Budget Insurance and Norwich Union.

There is one reason for the problems occuring and the problems not getting resolved when they do occur. Cost. Companies are obsessed, because of consumers, with being the cheapest, and nobody, not one, is concerned with being the best. That leaves little in the pot for enough staff, sufficient training and a salary to reflect how important they are in the corporate machine. Does a call center worker on £12k really care that you might leave the multi-million pound telco firm with one less customer?

Its the same even with fast food industries in my opinion. Their one redeeming feature for customer service (it sure ain't the food) is speed. It used to be "Whatever you want SIR, its ready to eat, and hot too". But that attitude has had to change over the last 5 years in my opinion. "We can't afford to throw loads of stale warm food away MATE, so if you park/sit over there it will be ready when I can be bothered."

Its all the same thing though, we don't like to pay and we don't like to wait, but it would appear that we can't have it both ways. I for one would ask that companies consider the real cost of providing real customer service, pitch their prices accordingly and accept that customer service is not something that costs businesses money, it IS business! Do something for a customer, they pay you, don't do it, they stop paying you pretty quickly.

Be it emails that take weeks (14 sent to o2 and still no resolution) to get a response, if ever; Phone calls that inform you "We are experiencing (AS EVER!!!) high call volumes, you are 145th in the queue and should expect to wait 6 years before an agent will be with you, we really do care about your custom" or clueless loons such as Rufus that, when you finally get a response, have failed so catastrophically to understand what you are trying to acchieve, they abuse you for daring to expect something to work properly. If just one person at one company shows me they care, I'll stick by them for as long as that person stays with the company!

The only real solution is to start demanding it. I don't let them get away with it, I won't just close my account. I will keep asking, as politely as possible for what is right. Until we all make companies serve their customers, they can keep reducing the customer service budget, keep shedding call centre staff, even shedding the tiresome job it is to run a call centre by letting some indians do it.

Lets start a war! Lets have a resolution! Lets make businesses look after the wage payers, not the shareholders!

<Rant Mode: Off>

Apologies, your article appears to have pushed my "Mental" button. It wont' happen again!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That and they top-read only the first sentence alot of the time.

If your emails to the council were as confusingly written as your post here, it's not surprising that it took them three months to work out what you wanted before they replied!

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Fasthosts support is pitiful

The support offered by Fasthosts (both e-mail and telephone) is woefully inadequate.

If this company were a utility provider, they would have been featured on Watchdog by now.

When calling their national rate '0870' support number, It's not uncommon to be waiting on hold for well over an hour.... And for as long as you're on hold, Fasthosts are earning from the call.

E-mail support is no better. A simple support request can go unanswered for days, often being ignored completely.

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