Instead of enacting meaningful customer service improvements or lowering fees and charges, most of these companies seem to find ways for consumers to hate them more, rather than finding ways for consumers to love them for a quality product and an Apple-level style of customer service that often goes above and beyond the call of duty, which usually results in absolutely delighted customers.
While Apple seems to have figured it out (among many other retail and customer service learnings), Telstra is showing signs that it really wants to improve customer service to a new level, something that could help customers to actually fix problems on the first call.
After all, no-one likes making multiple calls to a telco customer service line for the same issue. If you're having a problem, you want it to be permanently fixed on the first call!
So, what is Telstra doing?
It is launching a 'customer service tool, providing Telstra helpdesk consultants with remote access to customers' computers (PC and Mac) - and some smartphones - to diagnose and fix common technical support issues', billing it as a Telstra helpdesk 'inside' your smartphone, PC and Mac.
Telstra says the remote access facility is 'standard to the free helpdesk service and is expected to be used primarily to help set up a BigPond email account, diagnose a problem on a smartphone, or simply change an internet connection setting'.
Seeking to soothe any privacy concerns, Telstra notes that: 'Consultants can only access customers' smartphones or computers with the customer's permission and after the customer has entered their password into a secure screen. Customers will be able to see what is happening on their device or computer at all times and they can regain control or simply end the session at any time.'
The Executive Director of Telstra's Consumer division, Ms Rebekah O'Flaherty, said 'the new capability removed the confusion often associated with talking customers through a troubleshooting situation - especially with customers who may have limited technical knowledge.
"When customers call us for support, it's unusual for them to know exactly what's wrong with their smartphone or computer. We understand that for some people, explaining the problem can be a major hurdle and this new tool helps bridge the distance between technical support staff and our customers.'
A video of the service in action and more information is on page two, please read on!
Ms O'Flaherty added that 'the remote access tool was one of many changes being implemented as a result of formal feedback programs involving more than 700,000 Australians.
"Additionally, customer trials reveal this new approach reduces the average time it takes to resolve support issues and will increase the number of cases resolved on the first call."
Michael Lewis, a 'Senior Channel Enablement Specialist' at Telstra and regular blogger, has created a video where a Telstra helpdesk consultant uses LogMeIn Rescue to configure a BigPond email account on Mr Lewis' iPhone 4, and blog post is available here.
A Telstra spokesperson has added extra detail on the privacy and security of the service, stating: 'In relation to privacy, we take our customers' privacy very seriously, and always have. We act in accordance with legislation in this area.
'All activity using the LogMeIn Rescue service is fully visible to the customer as if the support consultant were sitting alongside them.
'A consultant can only access a customer's device after the customer has entered their password into a secure screen. They will be able to see what is happening on their device or computer, and if at any time the customer decides they don't want the consultant to have access to their device, they can regain control or simply end the session.
'LogMeIn Rescue uses 256-bit SSL encryption, the same security levels used and trusted by major banking institutions. This remote access technology is used by major providers around the world including 5 of the top 10 mobile carriers worldwide. We have fully tested this service before offering it to our customers.'