EE recently announced that it is to start charging customers 50p to fast-track their calls to a ‘priority answering service’. SIM card only customers will also have to pay 25p to call the company’s customer service number. EE have said this new cost is due to the investment they intend to make in retail stores and contact centres, and therefore see it as a necessity in improving its customer service as a whole.

But is this really the right way to go about business? EE might not be overly concerned about their position as the UK’s ‘biggest and fastest overall network’, but it’s a strategy that could have a negative impact on the business in the long run. Customers, even if they choose to receive ‘premium service’ shouldn’t have to pay for this. Brilliant, top-rate service and care should be standard across the board and setting up a premium service is likely to bring further scrutiny on the quality of their existing customer care.

Picking up the cost of calls by using Freephone numbers when customers are experiencing issues with the service you are providing, shows you care about them and are willing to make the investment to put those problems right. An organisation’s reputation will very seriously impact on the bottom line and if EE gets a reputation for milking its customers for every penny, they may start to see more walk out the door or even not attracting new customers because their reputation for charging precedes them.

Brand loyalty is not what it used to be and one of the biggest problems facing the mobile phone networks is the churn of customers. Surely it is a more cost effective business strategy in a saturated market, to invest in keeping existing customers happy, than it is to investing in bring in new ones.

Small business owners may question the short term benefit of picking up the cost of calls. Some may feel troubled by the loss of income, however, if they make the investment now it will have a positive impact on revenue streams in the long run. The alternative, if it’s really going to be an issue, is to provide customer service via numbers charged at the local rate, like the new range of 03 numbers, as many mobile tariffs will include these in the monthly call allowance. But for start-ups and smaller businesses looking to build a good reputation, Freephone numbers are a minor investment for a long term benefit, when you consider the increase in calls into the business you open yourself up to. Research from j2Global has shown that UK businesses have seen a 163% uplift in call volumes when they switched to a Freephone number.

Charging customers for calls is the same as walking into a shop and the shop assistant charging you to talk to them. As a consumer, what would you do in that situation? You’d probably walk out the shop straight away and rightly so. Don’t follow EE’s example and charge customers a premium for quality customer service; make quality customer service the norm at a reasonable and fair rate.

Rory Whelan HeadshotRory Whelan
Marketing Manager, eReceptionist
Based in Dublin and with over 15 years of marketing experience, Rory Whelan is Marketing Manager for eReceptionist at j2 Global. Here he oversees the marketing strategy, development and implementation of the eReceptionist brand.

Post Views: 539