Friday, 27 June 2008

o2 go the extra mile to earn that broadband smile

o2 Broadband - They promise to make homes happy

o2 quietly launched its new home Broadband service earlier this year. Once they were happy it was as about as good as broadband could be, they rolled out a big 'Happy Homes' marketing campaign - proudly claiming that 9/10 customers would recommend o2's Broadband.

o2 must have done some research to discover this happy user number - so when they invited me to give my feedback too I readily agreed - the service is really very good - as I've said previously.

I was invited via a text, to respond to an email from market research company TNS - so I clicked through the link into a long in-depth survey about my experiences with o2's broadband.

This week I received another email, from a different marketing company referring to my positive feedback and inviting me to phone them (in return for £2) and give them my personal details (for another £5). I wasn't very happy about this at all - who else had o2 shared my email address and survey responses with? And why were they now trying to bribe me with such tiny sums of cash when I had just completed a twenty minute survey for free?

Ironically when I phone o2 broadband to complain, there's an unnecessarily lengthy security check (full name, land line number, address, dob, mothers maiden name, name of the package) all in the name of Data Protection, before I can even voice my complaint.

'Who else has o2 shared my details with? I ask

'That's just spam - nothing to do with us, we don't employ market research companies' was the opening reply from o2's customer service.

I know spam when I see it and it doesn't look like this. Don't ever fall at the first line of customer disservice. 'So it's fraud is it? A rival company mining your customers for information? How did they get your customer's email addresses? How has another marketing company heard about my positive feedback? I persevered through two levels of support until a manager came on the line. I forwarded the emails and he agreed to investigate.

My complaint went like this:
1. Did o2 commission TNS to carry out research - as the text and email invitation said.
2. Why did TNS share the result of the research with another company 'Valued Opinions'?
3. Who else has o2 shared my email address with?
4. Who is o2's appointed Data Controller - responsible for its compliance with the Data Protection Act?

Then it went a bit quiet for a couple of days - which left me far from happy. I emailed again - demanding some urgent action and reminding o2 of their responsibilities to me under the Data Protection Act. A more senior manager got involved and things began to happen, although still a little slowly - so I emailed o2's Chief Executive Matthew Key too - you can't escalate much higher than the CEO (well, there's the Chairman, the parent company Telefonica, and the Regulator, but you get my drift).

Things do go wrong in business, it's inevitable. But what marks out the truly excellent companies is the way they respond to complaints. Today o2 phoned me to thank me for persevering with my complaint. There is now a high level investigation going on into how the survey has been conducted - and while that happens the survey has been suspended with immediate effect. As a thank you for alerting them to this issue o2 would also like to offer me free broadband for the next three months. There's more - they will also keep me informed of the outcome of their investigation.

In exchange, I emphasise - in the interest of customer feedback - that if all the emails do in fact turn out to be linked to o2 - a company which spends millions promoting it's brand image each year - it shouldn't be offering derisory amounts of cash to customers via third parties to give testimonials and sell their personal data for a fiver.

My complaint has not been lost on o2, a company which - I can now testify - works very hard to keep its customers happy.

So if there's no 9/10 satisfaction statistic contained in the next o2 ad its all my fault - my complaint has temporarily shut down o2's customer survey...

...and then this evening something uncanny happens - a new email, from another market research company, again working for o2. Would I like to take part in a focus group about my o2 mobile phone? They will pay me £60 for my time. You couldn't make this stuff up could you?

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