It takes more than gestures to deliver amazing customer service

It makes a nice change to have my expectations about Virgin Media exceeded.

Mind you, those expectations were pretty low so it didn’t take much – just a phone call.

I got that call last Thursday morning from a supervisor in Virgin Media’s tech support. His name is David. I don’t know his last name. No one at Virgin Media support gives out their last names or a phone number. Probably not hard to guess why.

Anyway, David and I had a pleasant chat about my poor experiences with Virgin Media broadband tech support over the past two months.

He was sympathetic to the concerns I expressed about the hurdles and hoops you have to jump whenever you have outage issues such as I’ve experienced and then have to deal with their 25p-a-minute tech support phone system.

Sympathy isn’t the same as empathy but I guess it’s the best I could expect. He did tell me that my account would get a refund for the downtime I’d experienced plus a payment of £20.

It’s not about the money, as I told him, although a financial gesture is welcome nevertheless.

This morning, a Virgin Media engineer showed up as arranged to take a look at the cable modem and run some tests.

His tests showed some interesting things re the broadband network. A bit too hi-tech for me, though – to do with signal latency and speed which was about 16, he said, when it should have been about 10. Nothing to do with internet speed, he added.

He replaced the modem and added an attenuator to it. So one of the first things I did was run a speed check which produced this result:


That’s actually more or less in line with results I’ve seen from the previous and occasional tests I do at places like Of course, speeds can and often do vary enormously depending on all sorts of factors outside your own control.

But at least we know the new cable modem works fine.

So I’m feeling a bit more positive about Virgin Media, mostly because I got a phone call last Thursday.

Yet it leaves me wondering what Virgin Media’s goals are in terms of customer service.

David may or may not be a typical Virgin Media tech support supervisor. His approach and manner were disarmingly positive and helpful. In fact, my experiences so far with his company’s phone support indicate he’s definitely not typical.

And the engineer (whose name I didn’t get). A pleasant and knowledgeable guy and the second Virgin Media engineer I’ve met. Both professional and knowledgeable and able to sort out problems.

But how does Virgin Media really want to engage with their customers? Do they even want to do that? Is insisting on speaking to a supervisor all the time the only way you can get satisfaction?

According to their website, when you become a Virgin Media customer, this is what happens:

[…] we promise you’ll be getting the best technology, great value and amazing customer service.

I have no disagreement with the first two, but "amazing customer service"? Definitely not if you ever have to phone Virgin Media tech support at 25p per minute.

A hollow and empty promise, in my experience.

So this gives me an opportunity to mention again the Social Customer Manifesto:

The trouble is, Virgin Media is just a spectator.

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