Telkom: Touching TomorrowI know that posts on this Blog have hammered Telkom (South Africa’s only fixed line telephone operator) recently. And I know that much of South Africa’s online community is doing the same thing. And we all know that they deserve most of what is being written about them. This is another dig at them, but from a slightly different angle.
It’s not about the exorbitant prices, or the monopoly they enjoy, or the lack of speed and bandwidth, or their bully-boy tactics. This is about customer service, call centres, and back-to-basics staying in touch with your business.
I’ve been living in Johannesburg for a little over 2 months now and this weekend saw the 4th big rain since my move. Every time we get a big rain my phone line goes down along with my ADSL connection. And once the storm has passed and I’ve discovered that the line is down I end up phoning Telkom’s call centre.

Tonight I had to use my cell phone to call them as my land line was down. It took 22 minutes for someone to finally deal with me. I told them of my slight irritation and the operator offered to call me back. I accepted, especially once I’d found out I had never been put through to the department I was told I was being put through to 18 minutes earlier.
These are my reflections:
* Why has no-one picked up that in two months one of their clients has had the same problem 3 times, and all after rain. Why am I telling them this? Tonight was number 4 and the operator made a note at my insistence.
* While call centres are efficient, does no-one understand that customers who have to use them regularly, especially to report faults, soon become frustrated because we feel so far away from the people we really need to talk to.
* Why is it that every time I phone I have to go through the same frustrating process of answering the same basic questions, like: what router do you have? Are you sure it’s not your computer? Can we go through the IP settings? Do you understand that if we send someone out and it’s your fault that there is a call out charge? (give me a break – who’s going to reimburse the money I spent tonight phoning them from my mobile phone?)
* Why haven’t they spent some of their rediculous profits on more effective CRM systems that can red flag problems like mine, and alert their very non-technical operators that I’ve done the dance over and over again?
If I ever got this out of touch with my customers, providing this kind of predictably inefficient service, in this less than professional manner, I wouldn’t be in business much longer than it has taken me to write this e-mail.

TomorrowToday Global