Why have people converted all customer relationships into processes? Having failed two years ago to get British Telecom to sell all their services in one package, I bought them separately. This including the broadband service which came with a POP server with lots of space to I could keep email backups. However, there have been problems – the most recent involved the said pop server deciding that all those emails I deleted on the client should now be downloaded again, and again, and again and again.

18 months of emails stored on the pop server as back up just kept coming. So I contacted the support line. I filled in an on line form (designed to discourage you from doing so) and got a response saying that help would be on its way within 24 hours (and that I was a valued customer). 48 hours later after no response I complained and was told that my complaint would be handled within 24 hours (and again was told of my inestimable value to them). I finally got a pro-forma email telling me to delete all the emails on my pop server, rather negating the value of the service, but never mind I did it. The problem persisted but with lower volumes. Checking progress I discovered in an obscure part of the web site (remember where the notice of Arthur Dent’s house demolition was posted in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – well it was like that), a notice to the effect that this was a general problem of which they were aware – well everyone but the hot line response team evidently. So I complained. The net result (as aversion therapy) was that I was pursued around the country with mobile phone messages by someone in India who wanted to read me a script about how I was a valuable customer and they were very sorry, my account had been marked (that may have been a threat) and I would not experience the problem again. I know it was a script because I asked them to repeat it, and they were word perfect. Of course nothing actually changed and a month later (yesterday) the problem recurred and expensively as I planned three minutes connection in Singapore’s Changi Airport and ended up connected for 40 minutes on roaming charges (with BT Openzone). Either way these things happen so I sent of a request to the hot line and got the same pro-forma response as the last time (even though I included the reference to the previous event. I now await the phone calls wanting me to spend my money on international roaming charges (with BT O2 mobile) so that I can be read the apology script again.

Is this all a money making exercise? Are BT Broadband creating problems so that BT Openzone and O2 can increase their revenue stream? Is this conspiracy or cockup?

Getting serious it summarises for me all that is wrong with process engineering, when it attempts to capture and structure knowledge based on someone’s conception of what people do, rather than creating a system that responds with humans to humans – come to think of it a support web site that was properly designed would also help.

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