We signed the lease for the office space in Colombo late last week and transferred the required bond and the first six months rent. We have made some progress on getting the rest of the legal and operational formalities completed and will visit Colombo late this month to finalise the design and fit out requirements of the office with the aim of having some sort of operation in place by early July.
Some 15 months ago we embarked on a program to find ways of delivering the best possible and fastest customer fault resolution process available from any ISP in Australia. It’s been a very difficult and, at times, disheartening process but we have persevered in addressing each of the issues we identified as being required to be put in place.
The six objectives of this program was to provide a service that would allow a customer:
1) to log a fault for a down service within 2 minutes 24 x 7 x 365
2) to have a ‘down’ service restored within working day 24 hours of opening a fault ticket
3) to get a solution for a ‘troubled’ service within 24 hours of sending an email.
4) to get sensible help from within 2 hours of posting on the Exetel forum 12 x 7 x 363
5) to provide a telephone support service for logged tickets 12 x 7 x 363 6) to respond to calls to the support telephone line within 2 minutes on average
The establishment of the Colombo office will be the final part of the infrastructure we need to put in place to accomplish these objectives. Virtually everything else has been prepared and almost all of the programming for the last two new functions has been completed.
Using the 5 hour time difference between Colombo and the East Coast of Australia will allow us to provide support up to 10.30 pm each day and on weekends.
Of course, I don’t know how quickly and how competently other Australian communications companies provide competent assistance to their customers and in what time frames other than to do some ‘market research’ which can provide some basic indications.
This research means that I’m pretty sure that it takes longer than 2 minutes to log a fault and much longer than a two minute wait to get through to support for the ‘top ten’ ADSL suppliers. Originally this capability was planned to be completed by the end of 2007 but, for a number of reasons it proved impossible to do that.
One of the main reasons was financial in that the concepts we had for using P2P caching and other mirroring has taken much longer that even our most pessimistic estimates considered likely. Another reason was that we had a great deal more trouble specifying just how to address some issues than could reasonably have been expected. These two issues:
1) “My speeds are slow”
2) “My line keeps dropping out”
are difficult at the best of times to adequately resolve without having the added complications of third party issues confusing the inadequacy of the end user’s knowledge and competence that more generally was what we were trying to overcome. Dealing with speed issues that are neither the customers problem nor Exetel’s problem but issues with the ‘bits in between’ were a very real stumbling block in putting in place our planned ‘2 minute’ fault resolution problems.
In the end you have to come to the realization that there is never going to be a way of ‘technically’ dealing with this particular problem for a small company like Exetel so it has to be dealt with a different way. The ways it can be dealt with are really quite limited:
1) Stop selling a service where a third party can simply not fix an identified deficiency in the service they are providing to Exetel.
2) Where a third party fails to deliver a service that materially affects Exetel’s ability to deliver a service advise the end user that there is nothing that Exetel can do to address their perceived or real issue and therefore they have to either accept that level of performance or move to stop using the service.
If there was a third option I can’t remember what it was.
So in the case of 1) – we have stopped selling the AAPT service and will apply that principle moving forward to any other provider who is unable to meet their realistic contractual requirements.
In the case of 2) we will implement that from now onwards either on a case by case basis or by removing all ‘contract periods’ from the service plans we provide and slightly amend the current ts and cs to strengthen the “…if prevented by one or more third parties from delivering…….” disclaimer of liability.
This means that any customer who has a problem that we can't resolve has the opportnity of having no contrctual barrier to moving to another provider if they wish to do so. I think changing the contract term to 30 days will probably accomplish this objective but I’m waiting on more competent legal advice.
It’s been a very difficult 15 months as we have gradually changed the end user support process but there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel and if we can accomplish what we have set out to do it will be a very significant achievement. (a lot of Exetel people have put enormous efforts in to making this possible).
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