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Let’s Blame Coronavirus | PR Ireland

Let’s Blame Coronavirus –
Something for customer service managers to digest while working from home

There’s nothing like a good crisis for helping create new opportunities for companies with quick reactions to take advantage of them. Coronavirus / Covid-19 is no different.

I’m sure all of us are now very familiar with the phrase ‘’Due to coronavirus, it will take us longer to answer your calls as we are working from home.’’

Once upon a time, we had to deal with the torturous process of hearing a long list of options, ‘’press one for news of our new products, press two for sales…’’ Inevitably, the option you need wouldn’t be listed, and none of the other options take you to where they said they would.

We are now well experienced in ‘’this call is being recorded for quality and service purposes.’’

Our personal favourite would be working your way through the family tree of options, where you get a new list of options every time you select another. Not sure what the rational is here. Is it to break you, in the hope you will hang up and leave the TV/utility company alone?

In more recent times we moved on to the online chatbots. We were promised they could help us with all of our queries. You know the rest.

The latest trick is to blame everything on the coronavirus. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the dreaded phrase ‘’Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our customer service team is working from home.’’ Who are they kidding? This does not matter, whether they are at home, in the office or on the moon.

When on the phone, they round the houses for a bit, before explaining that this means they won’t be able to help you, presumably because they’ve laid off much of their staff and are using the pandemic as an excuse to provide a poor quality service. This is the feedback we have received, having canvassed opinion on members of the public engage with banking and financial institutions.

Here is one best practice example for wasting people’s time from Virgin Media, who set the standard very high last year. At the onset of the pandemic last March, a colleague of mine was moving home and was trying to changeover his account details to another person living in the house. He spent three weeks trying to get through to a human being because the online chatbot wasn’t working. The repeated message was that customer service was working from home, and so there were delays.

He eventually cancelled his direct debit, and a Virgin Media customer service agent rang him within hours. Obviously, the team chasing up payments weren’t working from home.

Twelve months on from the first lockdown, consumers shouldn’t have to put up with this sort of behaviour.

Its not just the customer service departments of large corporations that are revelling in this newfound excuse. Time and time again, we’ve all experienced it as an excuse for someone taking ages to do simple tasks.

Some are even saying ‘’apologies for the delay in responding to your mail, we are all working from home.’’ I’m not sure how responding to emails front of a screen and a keyboard at home, rather than responding to emails in front of a screen and a keyboard in an office makes a difference.

Perhaps a quote from The Hardy Bucks is appropriate – ‘’if there was work in the bed, they’d sleep on the floor.’’


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