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Sprigge
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Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

Dear Mr Dodds,

Over the past 8 weeks I have spent 10-20 hours speaking to multiple Virgin Media representatives on the phone and via the chat system. I have repeatedly heard how important customer service is to Virgin Media. As a long standing customer I want to make it clear how far your team is falling short of even basic standards of customer service.

Indeed, my experience over the past 6-8 weeks with Virgin Media has been the worst I’ve ever had as a consumer. If I held shares in Virgin Media I would be selling them as soon as possible. You have spent billions of pounds installing cable across the UK, but have customer service and installation teams that are woefully inadequate. I work for a large multinational as a VP managing a global team. If my staff (and the processes and systems they used) were as poor as yours are, I’d want to know about it. So please consider this message as “feedback is a gift”.

My family and I moved into our new house on August 30 and were due to have VM installed on September 1. Since then the installation date has been repeatedly moved by 2 weeks because the installation team are struggling to get a council permit for the work that’s needed. That’s incredibly inconvenient from my perspective, since I’m having to do video calls tethered to a phone while working from home, but that’s not the main reason I’m writing this message. The delays have been frustrating, but it’s the interactions with the Virgin Media team that have driven me to distraction.

I suspect I have interacted with your customer services and pre-installation teams more than you have, so here are the main problems as I see them:

There’s no such thing as an account manager. No one has taken responsibility for making sure that I have been kept informed as to the reasons behind the delays. Indeed, the default position is to read out some autotext and then transfer the customer to another department. I have been repeatedly told that I can expect a follow up call, which never comes, or someone rings and doesn’t leave a message. I’ve been transferred to another department and then cut off multiple times. It’s not the staff that are bad — it’s the systems and processes that they have to operate in that need a radical overhaul. Above all, the teams need to be proactively sorting out problems and giving customers regular updates. There is zero accountability within the teams, which act passively rather than actively.

Your staff are unwilling to pass on difficult messages. I have been repeatedly told that everything will be OK and that my broadband and TV connection will “definitely happen on [date]”. There’s an unwillingness to be open and transparent with customers. Everyone falls back on reading their standard script and offers profuse apologies about how they empathise with my experience. I need facts and explanations, not scripted platitudes (I know they’re scripted because during each interaction I hear exactly the same thing).

Every team uses different systems. Every time I call I have to go through security multiple times, as I get passed from one department to another. Keeping your customers’ data secure is clearly a top priority, but as I customer I feel like I am speaking to multiple companies, not one company. It’s incredibly frustrating having to spend 10 minutes going through security and telling my story of woe to one department, only to have to go through the whole process again when I’m transferred to one of their colleagues.

I am also an O2 customer and my experience with them has been better. Hopefully you will be able to leverage the O2 capabilities to improve things at Virgin Media, because, based on my experience, you have a serious problem within the Virgin Media customer services and installation groups. 

Andrew-G
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

Sadly this will come as no surprise to Doddy, given the prize winning performance of his organisation.  It has been raised time and time and time again in this forum, and the staff here understand and are undoubtedly frustrated by the wilful deafness of their most senior managers regarding customer service in general, and the enthusiasm of the organisation to make promises on installation dates or problem fixes that are then repeatedly broken.

I would also recommend you contact your local authority highway works permitting department, and ask if VM have sought a permit, if so when it was asked for, and when the permit was issued.  As a general rule, for a local authority to issue a permit to an established utility undertaker like Virgin Media takes less than 48 hours, but under Virgin Media's "Boris Johnson Model of Veracity & Accountability" all too often claims are made that delays are down to the council, when in truth it is almost always a consequence of VM's broken processes, poor systems, and ineffectual communication.

goslow
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)


@Sprigge wrote:

Dear Mr Dodds,

Over the past 8 weeks I have spent 10-20 hours speaking to multiple Virgin Media representatives on the phone and via the chat system. I have repeatedly heard how important customer service is to Virgin Media. As a long standing customer I want to make it clear how far your team is falling short of even basic standards of customer service.

<snip>


Excellent summary of the many failings in VM's installation processes which have been repeated over and over again on this forum in recent times.

The exact same issues are so well documented on this forum that one can only conclude that those in senior management roles at VM really couldn't care less about fixing any of it!

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Sprigge
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

Thanks for taking the time to reply. As I'm sure you know, a COO is judged on his/her ability is to maximise profits for the shareholders, and part of that is by reducing costs as far as possible. Keeping customers happy is an end to a means. If a few people like me leave because they get frustrated, it will make no appreciable difference to the bottom line. Sad, but true.

It seems to me that the key problem here is lack of competition. The only way I can get 600 Mbps is via Virgin Media. I have no choice but to put up with the poor customer service if I want a fast internet connection. 

I haven't spent much time on these forums, but a quick search shows that I'm not alone in experiencing delays and poor service. Has anyone tried to create an index of those experiences, so that they are front and centre at the top of the forum for prospective customers to see? The only way things will improve is if there's a risk to future revenues. Future customers need to understand that choosing Virgin Media is risky and that it could take months to get an internet connection. With so many of us working from home, that's an important factor when choosing an ISP.

goslow
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

I think anyone who reads or contributes to the forums regularly would have no problem at all in writing a summary list of VM's many areas of failure regarding installations. Those community members who are customers do share their experiences to warn potential customers of possible difficulties which might arise. I can't imagine though that VM would be that keen to see such a list-of-shame pinned to the top of a community page, no matter how true it was!

Better news is that change is coming. Openreach FTTP has been rolled out at great speed in my area in the last 18 months and in my little road I would say that at least 6 neighbours surrounding my home have ditched VM to go that route with other providers.

As you say though, VM will only make the necessary changes once the bottom line starts to be affected.

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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

I am having the same problems. I requested external cabling to be re-routed at the end of July to support a new and extedned driveway project. After 5 engineers visits it was determined the job requires a new cable to be pulled from the Street junction box. Series of appointments later, cancelled or attended by engineers who could not do the job. Latest appointment was 7th October, two engineers arrived took a quick look at existing cable and disappeared, didn't even ring the doorbell and had gone before i got to the door. Another multitude of phone calls, inconsistent messages, talk about permits and next appointment 21st October. No way of being able to speak to team responsible for the work as they are external contractors. 4 complaints raised to date with no response and VM are charging me £99 on 20th October for a service not delivered - most appalling customer service I have ever experienced and I have been a loyal customer for over 20 years or Telewest then VMedia. Every time the appointment just gets rescheduled for 2 weeks time and no further progress is made.

asim18
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

I doubt Mr Dodds can do anything about customer services to be fair. I've been seeing the same old examples of bad customer service for the last 10 years. They simply have no one there to identify bad mechanisms and improve them. Sometimes even basic admin duties which take 30-40 seconds, end up taking virgin media 2-3 months to complete!

According to the corporate website (https://news.virginmediao2.co.uk/leadership/jeff-dodds/) Mr Dodds has no customer service experience he might never have dealt with a customer in his life. He's spent 5 years as a Chief Marketing Officer I highly doubt he has any interest in overhauling VM's broken customer services.

A properly qualified person is needed to be able to establish the solid and proactive mechanisms required for good customer service.

Unfortunately there is no leader of customer service according to the website, so when you complain about bad customer services there is literally no one there to read the complaints and then establish mechanisms to ensure that future problems of a similar nature don't happen again.

Sprigge
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)


@asim18 wrote:

I doubt Mr Dodds can do anything about customer services to be fair. I've been seeing the same old examples of bad customer service for the last 10 years. They simply have no one there to identify bad mechanisms and improve them. Sometimes even basic admin duties which take 30-40 seconds, end up taking virgin media 2-3 months to complete!

According to the corporate website (https://news.virginmediao2.co.uk/leadership/jeff-dodds/) Mr Dodds has no customer service experience he might never have dealt with a customer in his life. He's spent 5 years as a Chief Marketing Officer I highly doubt he has any interest in overhauling VM's broken customer services.

A properly qualified person is needed to be able to establish the solid and proactive mechanisms required for good customer service.

Unfortunately there is no leader of customer service according to the website, so when you complain about bad customer services there is literally no one there to read the complaints and then establish mechanisms to ensure that future problems of a similar nature don't happen again.


I think it's likely that the Mr Dodds, as Chief Operating Officer, will be ultimately responsible for customer services and pre-installation, but of course that's not what he does full time. He's likely to have a VP or Director running the customer services team, who reports into him. A quick search of LinkedIn can give clues as to who that may be, but it's not fair to list them here. The executive team is the public face of the company and ultimately the buck stops with them. A COO will have some say in where to deploy resources (i.e. investment) and it seems likely that they have chosen to cut costs in customer services. 

This is the first time that I have ever contributed to an online forum or written any kind of public letter. I am not someone who complains, even when the service is poor. However, trying to engage with VM over the past 6-8 weeks has been unbelievably painful. I didn't think it would be possible for a company to treat its customers this badly. If my letter comes across as a bit of a rant it's because I'm incredibly angry and frustrated that I've been left without an internet connection for 6 weeks, and that it's been so difficult to get straight answers out of VM employees. I still don't know when (or if) I will be able to get broadband and TV installed, despite being told repeatedly that it will "definitely happen this time". 

Sprigge
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)


@goslow wrote:

I think anyone who reads or contributes to the forums regularly would have no problem at all in writing a summary list of VM's many areas of failure regarding installations. Those community members who are customers do share their experiences to warn potential customers of possible difficulties which might arise. I can't imagine though that VM would be that keen to see such a list-of-shame pinned to the top of a community page, no matter how true it was!


Unfortunately, I didn't read the forums before I tried to get VM installed. I had been a satisfied customer for 8 years in my previous house and it didn't occur to me that it would be so difficult to get connected, especially since the post code checker said it would be possible.

I doubt the pre-installation problems pop up on any corporate dashboard and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that senior executives are unaware of the issues, since they are juggling so many different balls.

I do think that future customers should be made aware of these potential problems and that it would be worth creating a thread that indexes all the issues. I'm sure VM won't want to pin such a thread to the top, but given the frequency of the problems I suspect it would appear on the first page fairly regularly if someone kept it updated. I can't see VM deleting a thread -- that would be very bad PR indeed.

Here's some examples from the past week or two:

Appointment ‘no shows’

Installation delayed.. again.

Virgin Media Installation Nightmare

Who is the elusive construction team

Delayed installation

4 months of pre pull delays

Repull Cable and Installation

Failed installation

Installation and Repull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lee_R
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Message 10 of 16
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Re: Open letter to Jeff Dodds (COO)

Hi Sprigge thanks for posting and welcome to our community.

I am really sorry to hear of your installation issue and the customer service experience you've reported when trying to get a resolution to the issue.  I would like to take a closer look at this for you.  I am going to send you a private message.

Regards


Lee_R

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