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Have you ever had to urgently get hold of a company only to find that there is nothing on their website except an email address, or even worse, a form you need to fill out on their website?

I found myself in that situation today. I bought some tickets for a Damien Rice gig from Viagogo. I’ve never used Viagogo before, but it looked like a well-established ticket reseller, basically connecting fans that have spare tickets with those who want them. The price was reasonable and far from what I expected was actually below the face value of the tickets, possibly because I was buying only a week before the show.

But on the day of the show, I still didn’t have any tickets. I went to the website and, sure enough, there was just a form to fill out. No phone number, no live chat. No nothing.

I turned to Twitter for help. Tweeting the company and saying, it’s urgent, I need to talk to someone now. To be fair to Viagogo, they respond incredibly fast on Twitter. Within minutes they had privately sent me a number to call for help.

My main aim was to get the UPS tracking number for my tickets so I could then verify exactly when they believed they had delivered my tickets. But each agent I was passed to asked for my name, the incident number, my email address, as if nobody in the entire call centre could share any information.

I ended up chasing them on the phone for over an hour and missing a language class – which I had already paid for – because I was so worried about missing the show.

What’s the problem here? Well despite the fact that the Viagogo Twitter team seem on the ball and able to react quickly to help clients, there are a couple of more general issues that go far beyond one company alone:

1. Make it easy to get in touch; what is all this ‘fill in a form’ nonsense? Sometimes customers can wait, they would rather send a tweet or leave a Facebook comment, but sometimes contact is time-critical, just like my undelivered tickets. The contact page of your website should make it easy to get in touch using several channels that work from a laptop and mobile.

2. Share information internally; talking to an agent who passes you to a team member who then asks for all the same information is like beating your head against a wall. When presented with this situation I usually tell the agent that the last person I spoke to has all the information required, but it almost always becomes clear that my only option is to repeat everything all over again or just give up trying to get help.

3. Remember that customer loyalty rides on experience; maybe brands are just trying to save some pennies, creating a connected contact centre costs more than just hooking up a load of individual agents to calls. But these interactions are how customers judge your brand. This is your front line.

As point three mentions, the bottom line is whether I would want to buy from or recommend Viagogo. The problem was eventually resolved – the guys in the mailroom at my apartment building had just mislaid the tickets. I got the tickets in time and the issue of them not being delivered was nothing to do with Viagogo, but my experience of interacting with them on the phone and trying to get proof of delivery was so painful and messed up my entire afternoon. I don’t think this is a company I would want to buy from again after that experience.

In future, I might just check the ‘contact us’ page on a company website. If they obviously make it hard to get in touch then that is a big enough warning to steer clear.

Blog Squad: Mark Hillary

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