With hotlines hampered, complaints flood PLDT, Globe social media pages
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – PLDT and Globe users have found a go-to venue to lodge their myriad complaints in the lockdown era: the telcos’ Facebook pages.
PLDT and Globe’s customer service hotlines continue to be limited in operation because of the pandemic. Typically, a call now ends in automated responses that, at times, aren’t always helpful to specific concerns such as having a line disconnected or having it transferred to a new location. Operations at physical stores are also not at full capacity, and are being restored at the moment. They, too, cannot accommodate all issues.
With the hotlines limited in its ability to help, users have flocked to Facebook posts made by the telcos on their respective pages.
On nearly all of the posts, the comments never appear to be about the posted topic, but are all about user issues. These complaints in the comments have been around even before the pandemic, but with hampered hotlines, more have tried to get attention from the telcos in the comments. The pages get the usual complaints on internet speeds but also on other equally serious issues regarding payments, no internet service, billing disputes, and line disconnections and transfers.
Work from home, disconnection issues
Typically, the telcos respond to the comments by telling the users to send them a direct message, an email, or by having them download their respective apps. But customers, based on these Facebook comments, haven’t been satisfied with the slow response.
“[I’ve] been calling, and even sent a message via Messenger and Twitter but no [response]. No connection for 3 days now – ano na (what now)?”
“I have been sending you PMs (personal messages) about the disconnection of my [broadband] account – please respond!”
“No internet for 9 days. Absent from work at home. Sending you PMs – until now I haven’t [received] any response. Please acknowledge this!”
“Hi, how do I request to discontinue our service? I can’t get an answer for a simple query. I can’t talk to anyone, so how do I request for disconnection?”
“PLDT! Please process my relocation request! It's long overdue, we badly need it as we are working from home! I hope you support us.”
“[Kailan] 'nyo po ‘ko kakausapin? Puro autoreply at menu lang nag-rereply sa ‘kin (When will you respond to me? I only get an autoreply).”
“Paano maayos ‘to, connection timeout. Need pa naman ito sa online classes tapos ganyan situation 'nyo (How can this connection timeout be fixed. I need this for my online classes).”
The users bring up concerns specific to the lockdown. Some need to transfer or disconnect their lines as the lockdown forced some people to move to another residence. Others say that connection issues hamper their ability to work from home. Telco infrastructure too will be tested even further as online classes look to become the new normal.
Based on my own experience of dealing with both providers, PLDT-owned Smart was, by far, more responsive on Facebook chat than Globe so far on both Facebook and Twitter. I’m currently not subscribed to a PLDT service, but the PLDT page is also riddled with comments on difficulties having their issues resolved.
For issues such as requesting to have a line transferred, a Globe store representative asked us to call the hotline. To be fair, my main Globe internet connection has been good, but I wish Globe informed its store representatives that the hotline is currently limited to very basic services such as checking your balance due.
In a response to the story, Globe said that, since the start of the general community quarantine, majority of their stores have reopened, which can address concerns such as renewal of contract.
It is understandable, of course, that operations are very limited because of the pandemic. “Due to high volume of subscribers leaving messages to us the same time as you do is the reason why we have responded late to your messages,” a Globe customer service representative explained on Messenger. (READ: How much time is acceptable for a telco to fix a bad connection?)
We have also been able to get an answer from PLDT about its current customer service woes. More customers are indeed engaging through social media accounts. Because of social distancing and the necessary health and safety protocols, hotline capacities are reduced, and onsite workforce, trimmed. (READ: [OPINION] Our BPO workers are essential in this pandemic)
The biggest test, though, PLDT says, is in field operations. "The continuing pandemic still compels us to strictly control the movement of our network service personnel to protect their health and safety as well as that of our customers. As a result, we need more time to respond to requests for repair of lines and the installation of new ones," said Mon Isberto, PLDT-Smart's head of public affairs. Some communities also still do not allow service crews to entry despite government authorization, adding to slow processing of repairs.
But Isberto admitted, "Given the increased demand for data services, however, we need to further raise our ability to respond to customer requests."
Globe's customer service operations, along with its BPO partners, have been tested, too, during the pandemic. Operations are currently reduced to "less than 40%" of the total manpower for both Globe's hotline and social media channels, the company told us.
Globe also described the current work situation, with some of their customer service people "staying within close proximity of the work sites for the past months." The company and their partners have also been providing free accommodations, shuttle services, food, supplements, and hazard pay, among other benefits, for their employees amid the ongoing health crisis. Strict health protocols are also being enforced, said Globe.
"Despite providing financial, medical and essential support for the frontliners, the ongoing quarantine restrictions continue to impact the availability of frontliners. As of this writing, barely half of frontliners are able to go to work. This number is expected to even go down with the ECQ happening again in Cebu," explained Yoly Crisanto, senior vice president at Globe.
Regarding customer service apps such as GlobeOne and Globe at Home, Globe said it is adding "more capabilities that enable customers to do usual transactions without having to speak to a service agent."
In general, the pandemic has had a huge effect on BPOs, especially on the employees. (READ: In limbo: Regular BPO employees on 'floating status' left with no pay)
The lockdown – even with the extra patience that customers have, given the situation – has only seemingly exposed further a customer assistance front that needs to be strengthened. They’ve championed digital transformation, too, over the years. The lockdown is a big test for that. Based on users having to flock to Facebook pages for complaints, they have a ways to go. – Rappler.com