customer service

TalkTalk Phone Scam – how to block calls


Last year we got a call from someone claiming to be from TalkTalk’s technical team to tell us that there was a problem with our broadband. All we had to do was download a bit of software from an address they would give us and it would all be sorted.

Yeah, right.

What was unusual for such a scam was that they knew our name and account number. This was obviously some sort of data breach, but despite a lot of noise on the internet, it took TalkTalk until February to own up to the fact that its security had been compromised.

This month the scammers have been back again, with silent calls every day from 0019896532555, or with messages left on the voicemail.

On reporting it to TalkTalk I got directed to this page. This is a classic of the ‘TLDR’ genre – you fill it full of heavy, small print text, reduce the colour and the illustrations, and put the significant information towards the foot of the page (1573 words in) because customers will have lost the will to read much beyond the first couple of paragraphs. This is shoddy behaviour and displays a poor approach to crisis management – because that’s what a data breach like this is, a crisis to your company’s reputation.

If you receive a scam call you can block it. There’s a page about it here – but even that is out of date. If you are a TalkTalk customer who wants to block calls, log into your account, hover over ‘extras + offers’ in the top menu, then click on ‘view home phone boosts’. The call barring feature is within the ‘privacy features’. Click on the check box next to it and then click ‘update’ then ‘confirm’. Once it’s been activated you’ll need to go here to find out how to use it.

The fact that TalkTalk aren’t properly publicising this feature again shows a very poor attitude to customer service, a fact emphasised by their coming second bottom in MoneySavingExpert’s survey of broadband and home phone provider rankings.


PDF editions – why they’re rubbish, and why you need them

If you’re at all concerned with digital editions of magazines you should follow @david_hicks on Twitter. You do have to endure a succession of tweets about Man United (a once-successful association football club m’lud), but between these he says some very sensible things about digital magazines.

“Sensible” in this context means of course “stuff I agree with”, and his criticisms of PDF ‘page-turners’ are generally right on the money.

These ‘digital facsimiles’ were devised as a solution to publishers’ problems, not to meet any need of consumers. They allow a magazine to pretend they’ve ‘gone digital’, when in reality they’ve done nothing of the sort. They tie a publisher and a consumer to a publishing and content schedule that dates from the days of movable type. And I don’t care what your reader survey says, people don’t like reading facsimile editions – if they did you’d be selling more of them.

A ‘proper’ digital edition will have been built from the ground up so that it works in the way a user of a digital device consumes content. It wouldn’t be issue-based; it should be updated constantly and able to draw on all the content of the title. Your magazine might support several editions or apps for different types of content, or you might have one app that pulls in material from multiple titles. The key is to identify the need and build around that, not create a clumsy facsimile and hope to drag current readers across to it.

Having set my standard firmly in the ground, I’m now going to tell you why every title should have a PDF version.
For consumers who don’t want print, produce a proper digital experience rather than a rubbish compromise. But because page-turners are simply an extension of the print product, give them away free with a print subscription and leverage the marketing benefits that this allows. (more…)

First issue delivery – why publishers get it wrong

Prompted by Jim Bilton’s latest ‘subscriber service survey’ in the Wessenden Briefing I’ve been thinking a bit about customer service and just how badly subscribers are treated by publishers.

In my old copywriting days it used to be quite amusing to write “Yes please rush me my magazine! (please allow up to six weeks)”, but if I were a consumer, the joke would be stating to pall by now.

The Wessenden survey shows that customers’ expectations of customer service are rising and that a lot of this is being driven by the standard of service given by online operators.

Amazon would not be where it is today if its delivery times were the same as magazine publishers. And the fact is that the speed of first issue delivery has one of the biggest impacts on renewal intentions. Your delay in getting out the subscriber’s first copy is having a negative effect on your renewal rates.

But, says the industry, subscriptions have lead times and magazines have print deadlines; we’re not sending out one product, but starting a service; it’s “impractical” to make special cases.

Obviously true to an extent, but I’d contend that these are excuses rather than genuine reasons for the delay. What’s really happening is that publishers are trying to save money – they don’t want to overprint a few copies to cope with new subs coming in; they don’t want to mail out copies to new subs if they can’t get them in the bulk mail rates; they don’t want the hassle of supplying digital editions in the interim.

This penny saving at the start of the sub is costing pounds in renewals. Just think, you’ve just got a new subscriber, someone who loves your magazine so much that they are prepared to pay up front for the product,  and what do you do? You piss them off by making them wait 4-6 weeks to get their first magazine.

Stop thinking like a publisher, and start thinking like a customer: what would your opinion be of a company that made you wait six weeks to get the product you ordered? It’s not positive is it?