Outsourced customer care quality – a customer prespective.

Just went to the Movies with my lady. We saw Kon-tiki, the story of Thor Heyerdahl’s journey from South America to Polynesia at Finnkino Plevna here in Tampere, Finland. Well literally saw, at least in my case, the lady had more luck.

But let’s take a few steps back to earlier today. We had a couple of Movie vouchers that needed to be used, right now. Their validity ends on May 2nd. So we set out to see which movies were watchable, quite the task as we found out. Most movies seem to be quite rotten tomatoes nowadays…

In the end we settled on Kontiki for today, May 1st, aka May Day, aka Wappu. As we weren’t sure about the language of the Movie (some of the trailers had parts in Norwegian, some were all in English) we elected to call the customer care number of the cinema and ask. The only number they had listed was a premium rate number clocking in at around 2€/min. Maria spent probably close to 2 minutes with them on the phone and the statement was ‘movie is in English’. So we chose the movie and not our secondary choice and bought tickets for the 18:00 show.

We arrived ahead of time, spent some money on popcorn and soft-drinks. After the usual 15min of Commercials and trailers the movie started and it turned out the Movie was 95% in Norwegian, 2% in French and 3% in English, plus the obligatory Finnish and Swedish subtitles. My impasse was: while I speak three languages fluently, the intersection with the movie languages was only 3%, plus the odd bits of Finnish (I’m studying it, but far from good at it) and moments where Swedish or Norwegian was close enough to German.

The movie itself was nice, not outstanding, not a true to life documentary, but told a story and stayed generally within the boundaries of the historical facts: evening entertainment. At least that’s my understanding based on what I saw, not what I heard as it could have been as well Greek to me.

After the movie I took a minute to give an unsuspecting customer first level interface (aka a cashier) a piece of what I thought about my customer experience. She seemed a bit overwhelmed and mumbled at first “That’s sure not nice, but I can’t give you your money back”, the fact that I didn’t really care about the money seemed to be beyond her grasp. In the end she took my contact details and promised “We’ll get in touch with you”. I didn’t really expect anything, but I was angry, I had been deceived. I’d be surprised if they bother to contact me. My last formal (sic!) complaint to a big Finnish telecommunications company yielded zero response.

The interesting bit though was that during the conversation she mentioned something that raised a red flag for me: their call-center is ‘just outsourced’. That for me explains a lot, sadly.

I can imagine that some lowest bidder call-center company, possibly in Estonia has people slaving away in small cubicles with just a headset and a computer. I can understand that in such a situation people might not always be motivated to do their best, they ‘just do their job‘. In this case the person on the other end probably briefly looked at some summary, maybe it even said there ‘en, no, …’ under languages and delivered a “Yeah, that movie is in English!”. Her ‘job’ was done. It wasn’t done right though. It was just a quick getting over and then she was probably hurrying into the next call to fulfill some management metric for call duration or call queue length.

What this meant for me, the customer, though was that Finnkino, the cinema chain, had lied to me, as they did have the information, but I got the wrong information and in addition paid probably around 4€ for receiving it.

Will I go and give them my money again? I seriously doubt so, certainly not any time soon. No, thanks!

On a tangent and as this is already a full blown rant, let’s consider the larger perspective. The ‘entertainment industry’ decries its downfall, while its profits rise. While someone, who would download the movie, would have had the choice between at least a DOZEN of subtitle versions, alone for English, and probably 50+ if you count all available languages. Don’t trust me? Ask the Internet search engine of your least distrust about: “Kon-tiki subtitles english”

Note (2013-06-09):They never came back to our complaints. Seems they don’t care once they have your money. Shame on you Finnkino! You won’t get more of my money.