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The power of blogging: Belgacom & Proximus react

Yes indeed, after my post on my Telco-frustration both Belgacom and Proximus reacted ... and how! Contrary to what - customer from hell - Clo experiences in her Ikea-saga, I am now a happy customer of both. And I feel we can all learn something from this, so let's dig a bit deeper.

Here's a chronology of the facts:

1. Thursday (in a 'long weekend') I write a blog post

2. Monday: A call from Belgacom
On monday Frederic from Belgacom calls me on my mobile with the following message (in Dutch): Hello Mr. Van Wassenhove, I heard you have a problem with our ADSL service ... Me: - taken by surprise - eeeerh Yes ... Frideric: How can I help you ...
I explain my problem and he simply proposes me to give me a new password, over the phone, no hassle ... total surprise to me, but I'm extremely happy. In two minutes I have all the info I need.
AND ... he promises me to put his Proximus colleagues on my trail so the too could solve my problem.

3. Tuesday: The call from Proximus
Indeed, one day later Proximus calls me with the same question. The mobile problem was a bit more difficult to solve so they called Samsung. Two hours later they called me back with more information. Note that I too had contacted Samsung and they could only refer me to another department rather then solving my problem. But Proximus (obviously) has more power at Samsung so one of the Proximus experts tried everything in his power to help me.
Last phase (I'm getting a bit embarrassed now): Proximus calls me to say they can not solve my problem, they suspect it's a hardware problem so they decided to send me a new phone. Three hours later a new phone is delivered to my house! This service was offered by the VIP service department apparently. Cool, I'm a VIP now.


Handling blogs is a new discipline we (marketing/communication professionals) have to learn. I have a view on what the roadmap for managing blogging communication is so let's explore:

1. Listen: read what bloggers say about your brand
Belgacom/Proximus clearly did a good job here. Within days (hours) after my post they knew about it. I don't know whether that is thanks to a organised tracking system, or just some intelligent people in the company doing their job, but it worked. Good job!

2. React: I recommend to react directly on the blog with an open and clear statement, but the main thing is to do something.
Again Belgacom/Proximus scores good. It's just a pity they did not use the comment function on my blog to react. It would have given them positive exposure to the whole community, whereas now they have to count on my good faith to report back the fact they helped me out. So that's kind of a missed opportunity.

3. Learn & Build a customer-centric and HUMAN organisation
I don't know how much they learned from this, but there still is a lot for them to do before they become a really customer/human-centric organisation. It for sure is not easy to realise that in a large organisation but I'm convinced it's possible.


1. Use what you know about your customer to identify them correctly (in case security is an issue) and then give the all you have in your database.
2. Use the call-center screening technology (like language, type of problem, etc) as few as possible. Of course I don't mind you asking me in what language I want to be helped. But don't create 100 possible options of which 90 lead to a tape.
3. If you feel too many people are using your call center (with simple questions they could read about on your website), improve your site. Make it easy to navigate, easy to search, accessible with any browser (also mobile, especially if you're a telco operator) and DON'T hide essential information behind a login.
4. Use telco options the way your customers do. Send an SMS (like Proximus did) but especially do NOT use hidden numbers but allow your contacts to call you back after a missed call.
5. Analyse the chain a customer has to go through to get a problem solved as you would analyse your own supply chain. Take out all the unnecessary steps and make it as fast and efficient as possible.
6. Overpay your call center staff ... they are crucial to your success.

So thanks Belgacom and Proximus for listening to me, thanks for solving my problem and I hope my rambling helps you (and other organisations) to improve customer focus.

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Dear Proximus, Dear Belgacom,

I would really like to be a good customer of yours. In my wildest dreams I spend ridiculous amounts of money on internet connections, ADSL and through my 3G equipped mobile phone, if only you would let me.

So Mr./Ms. Proximus, would you please allow me into your world and let met spend my money? I tried calling your call center, but if after entering 10 menu options I only get a tape that explains that you sell high speed internet over a 3G network. I knew that, I only want help to start using it. So I went to your site, Mr/Ms Proximus, and it has nice shortcuts. However, I'm a Mac user and in Safari or Firefox the pop-up shortcut menu disappear again as soon as I move my mouse in the direction of one of the shortcuts. So I tried logging in to MyProximus, but that doesn't work. I'm 100% sure my password is correct because two weeks ago I had the same problem and then I asked a new password, en saved it in my inbox as if it was the key to heaven. But today it doesn't work anymore, I probably make a mistake (like entering my phone number in an incorrect format). Problem is, I can only try 3 times and then you block my access to MY(?)Proximus. I'm desparate ... please talk to me (like, on the phone, you have my number I suppose). I just want to know why my quad-band phone doesn't connect to your 3G network, and how the issue could be solved. I promise I will keep on spending more then €400 per month with you. And I'll be a Vodafone Live ambassador and avid 3G users. All the time, really promised.
Oh and yes, I had this nice guy on the phone one day, and he promised would send me the correct configuration by SMS, buy I never got the SMS. So if you can locate the guy, tell him to call me back please. Because there is no way I can ever get back to him call your call center ...

Mr./Ms. Proximus, I hear you have good relationships with your sister Belgacom. I've been a Belgacom internet customer since 1995, I've had dial-up (huge bills), ISDN (even huger bills) and was probably one of your first ADSL customers. In fact, I have two ADSL lines with you today. I always pay my bills, but I would like manage my account settings. Problem is I lost my password, I tried to login to your site with another account you made me make (so I could access the invoices you stopped sending me on paper and I have to go and pick up myself online now). But again, there was something wrong with the password, and I had only three attempts so you kicked me out. And you won't answer the phone in the evening and now I can't login and I don't want to go photocopying my ID card again and send it to you to prove I exist ... after having paid my bills without delay for years now ...

LET ME SPEND MONEY WITH YOU GUYS! And don't use it to pull in some expensive consultant to think about how you can make sure you have as few direct contacts as possible with your customers, but open up a few phone lines, hire some people with a positive attitude and make them pick up the phone. It's as simple as that.