Overuse of Canned Responses leads to Frustrated Customers – Vodafone Leads the Race. Is Robotic CC Next?

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Indian telecom users would be very familiar with responses from bots for queries/concerns raised on twitter. While automated replies or canned responses sent out by customer care executives can help in avoiding typing the same text again and again, overuse of the same can lead to increased frustration amongst customers. In Indian telecom industry Vodafone is undoubtedly leading the pack with others like Airtel being caught now and then. Here is my experience with Vodafone's bots or rather careless customer care agents.

Unfolding the Conversation

Yesterday, I tweeted to Vodafone when I came across a tweet which claimed that Vodafone requires 90 working days to deactivate a connection. My tweet got an almost instant response that someone from Vodafone will call me in a while.

While I never received a call from anyone, tweets from Vodafone today puzzled me.

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When they never called me, how can they claim that they called me and even thank me for speaking plus soliciting feedback for the service? What more, they even provided a service request number.  I immediately tweeted back to Vodafone expressing the same and here is the reply. Again no one had called me!

Assuming that they called Sujit regarding his number deactivation, I drew his attention on twitter. To our utter surprise, even he had not received a call and he got his number deactivated by visiting Vodafone Store.

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My next set of tweets asking Vodafone to check who was actually called did not receive any response!

I must note that this is not the first time Vodafone lied in open. Few days ago for a rather simple query I was told that my number was deactivated and hence they could not call.

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This time, instead of stating I was unreachable, they decided to blatantly lie "Thanks for talking to us", not once, but twice. Even other customers receive similar kind of 'care' from Vodafone.

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Here's how Airtel was caught in a fun storm:

What Next? Robotic Customer Care

While we are all facing the adverse effect of canned responses on social media, the next step could well be robotic customer care. Here is a SoundCloud clip of a robotic customer care executive who denies being a robot! Check out how a TIME reporter catches the lie!

The Solution

We arguably understand that canned responses are a way to quickly respond to queries, they must certainly not be overused. When overused, all replies look same and the company sending out replies would be in a fix as they can't admit that the reply was automated in the first place and correct themselves.

Readers, did you encounter situations where Vodafone or any other brand's social media support used robotic or canned responses? How did you feel about them?

Update 17 May 2014

A Vodafone spokesperson clarified the following facts about them taking 90 days to deactivate a mobile number:

  • The customer’s number was suspended on account of lack of verification
  • Subsequently, the customer wanted to get his number deactivated, and called customer care for the same
  • An agent in customer care informed the customer that the process would take 90 working days
  • The customer then approached us online (Twitter), after which he was contacted and the process and timelines for deactivation were shared with him
  • Simultaneously, the call centre was informed about the incorrect information given by the agent, against whom action has been taken

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