8 September 2009

A Brickbat And A Bouquet!

First the brickbat – to Yellow [ex Yellow Pages]

I try not to complain too much about things – it’s usually a waste of energy – but Yellow NZ deserve a brickbat in what they’ve done to our previously really useful Directory Service. (I nearly threw the brick at Telecom but apparently they sold to Yellow two years ago. They’re sharing the PR backlash, however!)

Mike and I had a family weekend in Wellington recently. With a few spare hours on the Sunday morning we decided to visit the ‘Lord of the Rings‘ studios (and the birthplace of many other great movies). It’s now being advertised as a tourist activity in Wellington. I thought the name was something like Weka or Weta Studios – but as so often happens, wasn’t quite sure. And I wanted to check they were open on a Sunday.

So, I dialed 018. A well-spoken non-European voice took my call. Nothing unusual in that – we have lots of immigrants in New Zealand. But it all went downhill from there. I won’t bore you with the frustrating 6 minutes that followed, but I was subjected to some very poor time management techniques!  It became clear within a few seconds that this person was not located in New Zealand, had no idea who Peter Jackson or Richard Taylor were and clearly had no idea what ‘Lord of the Rings‘ was.  None of the name variations I came up with drew any results. Eventually I hung up – frustrated and none the wiser.  (If you do a Google on “New Zealand Yellow Directory Services” you will find plenty of examples of similar experiences).

And then I found a quote from Bruce Cotterill, new CEO at Yellow:

“The reality is that 018 call volumes and revenues are gradually falling so we need to find the most economic way of providing the current service as well as building new services. As a New Zealand-operated service the financial model would have meant substantial prices increases, which is not favorable to New Zealanders”

Really, Bruce? What use is a useless service? If Yellow want a sure way to stop people using the service, carry on!

What do you think? Add your comment to the blog.

And now the bouquet – to Peter Jackson and his crew at Weta Cave:

With no help from the aforementioned useless service, I finally tracked down ‘Weta Cave‘ in Weka Street, Miramar, Wellington. http://www.wetanz.com/cave. A small studio/museum and a shop are available to the public.

A really informative DVD gave us a behind-the-scenes look at Weta and interviews with Weta co-founders Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk. We sat there inspired and motivated. What a great example of determination, creativity and Kiwi ingenuity.

And – most unusually in this day and age – NO CHARGE!

17 thoughts on “A Brickbat And A Bouquet!”

  1. Nigel says:

    Hi Robyn

    I too have been to Weta and was very impressed. I love the way they share the experience, as well as their latest great ideas (even though they may ‘fail’).

    I also need to ‘bouquet’ the Wellington bus service and drivers who were very helpful in getting us there and back. Another example of great customer service.


  2. Peter says:

    If you think that had problems, try asking for a Maori name!
    I asked for an ‘Opotiki’ number (using very good Maori pronunciation) and was asked where it was near to. ‘Whakatane’ I said, at which point the operator almost lost it. I got a number no where near where I ad asked for. The same thing happened a couple of days later when I asked for another number with a different Maori name in Masterton. I got put trough to a number in Auckland.

    I do not blame the operator, but I do blame Yellow Pages for POOR TRAINING!!!!

  3. Linda says:

    I have had so many bad experiences, that I now automatically ask to speak to someone in Auckland. I usually get transferred straight away. The service is atrocious!

  4. Alastair says:

    Hi Robyn

    I have just read your brickbat to Yellow Pages – it is right on the mark! Yesterday I rang 018 to get the number for the Telecom Store in the Johnsonville Mall here in Wellington and it became clear that the person did not understand what a ‘Telecom Store’ was nor where Johnsonville was!!!

  5. You go Robyn!!!
    I’ve seen and heard Bruce Cotterill speak at a conference, and he’s too smart to let this happen. I hope you forward this on to him!! Peter’s right, this is a training issue – tell Bruce that Progress runs fabulously effective programs for call centres. This seems another situation where effectiveness has been sacrificed to ‘efficiency’.
    Let’s all blog on what we want from our providers.

  6. The 018 service ceased in my mind a couple of years ago. About the same time it went to $1 per request. (No refund if they give you the wrong number.)

    If I need a number I call my office and get someone to look online. Cheaper and more efficient.

    They have tried to kill the service and have succeeded as far as I am concerned.

    My time is better used elsewhere than trying to demand service from Telecom.

  7. Heidy says:

    Hi Robyn, so nice to hear from you again, having started my first proper job with Telecom, later to become Telstra I have every sympathy for the reluctant customer, I think people have to really desperate to actually call directories yellow or white as their poor service and attitude makes people frustrated at the operators lack of English and awareness of where places are. In support of the operators we were under pressure to answer as many calls as possible and spend as little time as possible on each call, maybe things have changed now but I doubt it. They have stats done on them every few mnutes in order to counsel their staff in ways to cut corners and answer more calls.

  8. Chris says:

    Totally agree.

    When you can’t make yourself understood and have to spell everything 3 times and still they fail to understand.

    Who has 10mins to spare trying to find a #.

    It would be quicker, easier and a whole lot less frustrating just to drive there and ask the question direct.

    If it is worth doing, do it properly or don’t bother !

  9. Sheryl Nalder says:

    I also had a very frustrating experience recently. The telecom operator couldn’t give the the phone number for the local Member of Parliament. She did get her supervisor who was able to help. Oh the time wasting.
    I also do not want to dwell on the negative but this is about customer service.

    Sheryl Nalder
    Golden Bay

  10. Anne-Marie Raleigh says:

    I too found my latest 018 exoerience with call centre staff not located in New Zealand and with no local knowledge extremely frustrating and time consuming. I requested a number for a company located on Queen’s Wharf in Wellington – despite citing the physical address the operator proceeded to give me seven other numbers not in the location I had specified. No amount of my reiterating the address seemed to help.

  11. Robyn Pearce says:

    Thanks Prue Bridger for sending us this hilarious link from YouTube!


  12. Keith says:

    Watch Yellow. We received a bill for an ad they rolled over without getting authorisation. When asked for proof of our order we were given a credit. Were they trying it on or is there a hole in their process? The jury is out.

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    1. Robyn Pearce says:

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