I recently called an embassy to fix an appointment to gain a visa for a relative and it turned into an expense wild goose chase when the agent failed to do their job properly. Firstly, i was surprised to learn when i called the number that i would be charged £1.23 per minute plus my call rate. After all i was already paying over £100 for the privilege of a visa in the first place. A minute in to the IVR message i realised that i needed more documentation that the web site suggested. So i hung up to get the missing information. Then back to the phone i sat through that IVR message to get to the number i needed to set up an appointment. Fixing an appointment took a full ten minutes on the phone. I was then told that an email would be sent to me with the necessary information in it to enable me to undertake the next steps, which must be completed before attending for the appointment. Failure to do this would mean that entrance to the embassy would be refused.
So i waited patiently, and sure enough an email arrived but minus the all important documents that i needed to print off and complete in order to gain entry to the embassy. Imagine my frustration when the email contained no attachments! The catch 22 – you cannot email the embassy you can only ring them on the standard number to get any help. This left only one option spend more money sorting their problem out. So i was forced to repeat the process – call the call centre explain the issue and attempt to get the all important attachments. Back through the IVR i went and eventually spoke to another agent who confirmed that the attachments were missing. She agree to send them to me again. No apology, no hint of sympathy for my inconvenience. 10 minutes and £12 poorer the documents were sent across to me. This time thankfully they arrived.
This is a system that clearly helps to cover its costs by the charging by the minute for its service. The individual agents are not to blame for this shabby approach to meeting customers expectations. The leaders who decided to to industrialse the process made the mistake. Unfortunately as the system is now a licence to print money no one will care. As customers with no choice but to respond to this dumb system we will be forced to continue to put up with poor service. Someone, somewhere clearly thinks that this service gives good value. My advice would be for a senior bod to come out of their bullet proofed glass panels and walk the workflow as a customer from start to finish. Only then could they see the broken system for themselves. As command and control thinkers they might need some help seeing the wood for the trees. Pity really as the average teenager can see what a ridiculas process has been created.
To top it all when you evenly get to enter the embassy in advance of the allotted time you find a line, more a kin to queuing for a pop concert that a business meeting. You then find out that the time given in the original phone, for which we paid £24, does nothing more than place you in the very long queue. In all 2.5 hours was spent in the building mainly sitting around waiting for something to happen. Useful time spent totalled about 10 minutes max during the 2.5 hours. This ‘useful time’ was spent giving in documentation, much of which they already had on their computer system, and answering a couple of questions. The waste , and cost, of human a time runs to many hundred of hours a day. sadly no one cases about what matters to customers anymore we are merely numbers of a screen waiting and waiting……
Apparently we were lucky – it can take up to FIVE hours on some days. Madness!