4 February: Following a comment (published below) by Cell C’s CEO, we have spoken on the phone. Once he’d got the apologies out of the way, he first wanted to know if there was any assistance I needed (I didn’t, the Speedstick is working just fine), and then went on to ask if I could suggest ways in which they could improve the customer experience. I have absolutely no doubt that Lars Reichelt is sincere about the changes he wants to implement at Cell C.
I’m leaving this post live so that others who have the same problem with the outgoing server settings are able to find them. I wish Lars and his team well as they continue their turnaround at Cell C (and Trevor Noah will be watching).
South Africa’s third cellphone operator – Cell C – has had an uphill battle. Not only has the company struggled to build its market share, but it has been dogged by a reputation for appalling customer service. Earlier this year they launched a huge advertising campaign based around the comedian Trevor Noah. Parts of the campaign were presented as real, but in fact turned out to be fabrications, which led to a lot of chatter on the net.
I think I’m willing to let the hoax component slide. The gist of what they were trying to communicate is that Cell C has a brand-new and upgraded approach to customer service. I think they did pretty well at getting the message across.
I became a Cell C customer recently, when I was lured by an insanely good special offer for their mobile data service, Speedstick. The purchase process (at Game) was straightforward. However, when I encountered problems getting it to work on my Mac, I found the need to phone their call centre.
First problem: I didn’t know my mobile number, which disqualified me from getting assistance via the call centre. So, I logged an online request for assistance. Shortly thereafter I received a confirmation email, telling me that I would be contacted within 48 hours. That turned into a week. Not a good start from a customer service perspective.
I did manage to get it working, and have found the download speed to be much faster than the conventional ADSL service I’ve used for years.
There remained the issue of obtaining settings for the outgoing (SMTP) mail server, basic information that I shouldn’t need to hunt for. Thanks to my smtp2go subscription it’s not a huge issue, but not all my email addresses are registered with them. So, I logged another online support request, received the 48 hour promise, and then waited a week for someone to get back to me. I was promised a text message, which never arrived, but fortunately I remembered the name of the server that was given to me during the phone call. Yet another poor service experience from Cell C. For the record, the outgoing mail server for Cell C’s Speedstick is mail.cmobile.co.za.
I don’t have any experience of Cell C’s customer service before their Trevor Noah campaign, and – hoax allegations aside – I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. On the simplest measure (i.e. keeping their promise of a response within 48 hours) they have failed miserably.
They have also broken one of marketing’s primary rules. If you build customers’ expectations of a certain level of performance, or change, or whatever, you’d better move heaven and earth to ensure that you deliver on your promises.
Here’s why it’s important to know the SMTP server.