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When the Hotspot Went Cold

by Angela McIntyre  |  July 21, 2011  |  1 Comment

I was working from my hotel room yesterday afternoon with a couple of hours between client visits, and I couldn’t get on the internet.  I was on-line after checking-in the evening before, no problem.  It was one of those hotspot services where you click on a portal, enter your credit card number, and get on.  I called the 800 customer service number on the placard on the desk.  The lady on the phone did everything she was supposed to, except get me back on the internet.  She walked me through the steps to connect and the proper set-up, which was all a waste of time since I had connected successfully the night before. 

I wanted to know; had my hotspot password expired too soon?  Had a problem been reported with the internet service in the hotel?  After 20 minutes the lady had exhausted her script.  She seemed like a kind gal and told me that I would receive a call back from a technician who would continue to help me with the issue.    I got the call from the level 2 help desk within 10 minutes. 

 It wasn’t long before he said, “Well, I can see why you can’t get on.  The internet has been down at your hotel since around noon.” 

“Why didn’t the first person I spoke with simply tell me that?”

 “Oh, she couldn’t have known.  She doesn’t have that information.”

I asked for my hotspot charge to be refunded for the day, and he hesitatingly agreed. By then almost an hour had passed.  Maybe next time I will take the advice my colleague gave me, “I always insist on talking with higher level staff right away.” 

Yet since I cover customer service, I find myself rooting for the companies I contact to give me a good customer experience.  I want to have their customer support processes work well instead of going around them.

What could have been different?  It would have been great if when I dialed the 800 number, a virtual assistant told me the internet service was down at the hotel and how long it would be before service would be restored.  Anyway, the first contact person could have access to the same knowledge base as higher level staff to know about outages, etc.  For issues that are more difficult to diagnose, the first contact person could ask more experienced staff for help and resolve the issue in one call.

I hope the internet hotspot provider actively looks for ways to improve its customer support experience and optimize its internal processes.  If they do, they will find ways to become more efficient, they’ll improve their bottom line, and give customers a better opinion of their brand.

I recently presented a webinar on customer experience that emphasized customer support.  Here is the link.

Webinar: Build Your 2012 Customer Experience Action Plan Now
Presented by: Charlotte Patrick and Angela McIntyre


Angela McIntyre
Research Director
5 years with Gartner
18 years IT industry

Angela McIntyre is a research director with the Gartner Technology and Service Provider Research group. Her focus is on consumer computing hardware trends. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on When the Hotspot Went Cold

  1. Robert says:

    I understand you want to believe that the companies want to do the right thing but my experience has yet to show that to be anything but a fantasy. It ALWAYS starts with the problem being the customer’s fault. As with your example the first line people may not have any information about their side of the equation. Companies go to great effort to not own the problem.

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