Gladys Moyo at the Emergency section of the Bulawayo Call Centre. Zimbabwe 2012. Photo: Phoebe Anderson

As you likely already know, I work from home as a freelance writer. The overwhelming majority of my work is done online, so having a fast and reliable Internet connection is absolutely paramount. And when said Internet connection cuts out for whatever reason, it can be quite the exercise in frustration. It can be even more frustrating when the Internet connection cuts out for an entire day… and that’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago.

“My Internet’s Not Working”

At first, I figured it may have had something to do on my end. I tried resetting the wireless connection from my computer and got nothing. I tried resetting the Wi-Fi on my smartphone and got nothing. I went over and did a quick reset on both my modem and router. And I got nothing. Having exhausted those possibilities, I hopped onto Twitter to see if the Shaw customer service folks could be of any assistance. They’ve normally been quite responsive.

After a short period of time, I received a reply from the “Shaw Helps” customer service account on Twitter asking to DM my account information. They then confirmed that there was indeed an outage in my area and they were working on fixing it. When asked about how long this repair would take, they told me they had no estimate and I’d just have to wait it out. And so I waited. And waited. I messaged them back several hours later for an update and they said they were still working on it.

In the end, I didn’t have Internet access for the better part of the day and straight through into the night. Even as I finally decided to throw in the towel and go to bed some time after midnight, I still had nothing. Thankfully, when I awoke the next morning, access was restored. That’s the good news.

During the outage, via a series of direct messages being sent back and forth, the Shaw representative told me that they’d happily credit my account for any inconvenience the outage may have caused. Remember that I rely on this Internet connection to conduct my business, so losing proper access really put a hamper on my day. Messaging them back, they said I should wait another day or two to make sure it didn’t go out again. So, I did and everything seemed fine.

When Good Customer Service Isn’t Good Enough

I messaged them again a few days later to inquire about the credit. They looked into the matter and decided to credit my account for two days of Internet service. That’s about five dollars. Surely, the headache and frustration were worth more than that. I pushed further and got the following response:

After checking the issue we feel the 2 day credit is fair. We see the issue started on July 16th and the modem was back online July 17th and has been functioning normally since July 18th. We do apologize for the inconvenience this caused.

They refused to budge. While I agree that the by the book minimum they could have done was credit me for the equivalent time lost, but that is not how you provide exceptional customer service. Part of the problem is that residential Internet access in the Vancouver area is largely a duopoly. When I expressed my frustration at the outage, telling Telus that I’d switch to them if they gave me a good offer, all they did was direct me to the standard offers on their website. That’s not good enough either.

If either Telus or Shaw stepped up to the plate, went beyond the call of duty and really did more than the absolute minimum needed to make it right, I would be a much happier camper today. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and I’m left with a service that I simply accept rather than love.

Not Quite a Nightmare, But…

No, this isn’t as bad as my experience with Purolator and it pales in comparison to the customer service nightmare with Comcast, but it does illustrate such an important point when you’re in any sort of service industry. If you do more and do better than your customer expects of you, then you’ll gain an advocate who is happy to sing praises of your brand. If you don’t, you just may have a customer who’ll jump ship at the first glimpse of greener grass.