So if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen that I’m having a bit of a row with Virgin Media at the moment. It’s separate to the row I had with them back in 2017 about something else, but it covers much of the same ground.
Long story short, I’m moving flat next month and I’d like to bring Virgin with me. The tool to check if I can do that doesn’t seem to be working, so I’ve been some after some clarity about exactly what the deal is.
My first point of call was to contact the “moving team” who would apparently do a manual check on my behalf. What I got in response is one of the strangest customer service emails I’ve ever received, and definitely something I think deserves a thorough examination. Because that’s where I’m at with my life.
(And maybe we can take away some wider lessons about the importance of clarity in customer service comms while we do it).
HERE’S THE EMAIL
I’ve blurred out the name because I don’t want to blame the agent here. Although if this agent isn’t constantly screaming “WHY DO WE DO THINGS THIS WAY, WHY OH GOD WHY” then frankly I’m a little concerned. But no, this clearly stems from broken processes and systems. No good system should let this happen.
Let’s start at the top then! What makes a good subject line?
- Something that makes me want to read the email
- Something that gives an indication of where the email is from
- Perhaps a summary of the topic
Basically getting right to it. A good subject line here might be “Sorry, we can’t come with you for your move!” or “It doesn’t look like you can get Virgin Media just yet”.
Instead, Virgin Media have gone with an email that has apparently been forwarded twice already. And is all in capital letters. And tells me nothing about what the email says (can I get VM or not?)
It also uses the word “SERVICIABILITY” which is:
- The least friendly word they could have picked
- Not a word
Did they mean serviceability? Why say that anyway? Even “availability” would be better – I know what that word means. And it’s a word.
We then have 8 line breaks. I don’t know why. To leave me in suspense? What email tool could they be using for this?
Note: this came from an individual’s Virgin Media address too, so it’s possible they just did this all themselves. But this seems like a pretty standard email to send out. Surely they can have templates. At the very least templates that don’t begin with 8 line breaks.
We then get “Hi,” in tiny blue font. No name or anything. Just hi. Then another 7 line breaks. We’re 16 lines in and I don’t know anything.
The email then continues in a completely different font and colour. I kind of liked the blue! But mixing it up is fine too, I suppose. Keeps it interesting.
“Sorry, your home isn’t in a Virgin Media area”. There’s the subject line! Buried like thirty lines deep.
(Note that they’ve said “We checked your post code” twice now. In two different ways. I don’t know why).
Next up: “Here’s the good news” followed by “Hang tight – we’re redirecting you!”. No clue what’s happening at this point in the email. The use of headers is a bit bewildering. At least they’ve tried to use some kind of structure, but it’s just made everything super confusing. But what follows is even worse.
An entire sentence is repeated. “You can still get a great broadband, TV and phone package” – just there… twice! Once mentioning USwitch (last mention of USwitch in the entire email, by the way) and once without. The “button” that apparently leads to USwitch is nowhere to be seen, and the email instantly veers to talking about Simplifydigital instead.
A highlight in the next bit is “click the link below” where “link below” is in blue, but not a link. It’s like they’ve seen links before in other places and know they’re usually blue. But they don’t know how to actually make links so they’ve just added one underneath instead. Baffling.
Another 10 line breaks and we get the sign-off (not in the screenshot).
Wow. Needless to say this email left me very confused. I wasn’t even sure it was legit. I tried asking Virgin Media and they didn’t seem sure, especially since they’re obsessed with telling me that they (the internet company Virgin Media) “don’t use email“).
It’s not just disappointing, it’s shockingly bad. And it makes such a poor customer experience. I have no confidence in the answer I got, I definitely don’t feel like I’m cared about as a customer, and it really damages the brand.
What could the email look like instead?
Well, firstly I’d have it properly branded. Coming from an “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address or something. And using a consistent font size and colour. It could look like this:
Sorry, your home isn’t in a Virgin Media area
Thanks for asking us to check if you can get Virgin Media at your new place.
We’re sorry to say that we haven’t connected your new address to our network just yet. We’d absolutely love to soon though, and we’re connecting new homes as quickly as we can.
We’ll be sorry to lose you though. You can visit our friends at USwitch here to see which other companies have got you covered instead.
When we get to your area, we’ll drop you another email to let you know. We’ll even throw in a £50 welcome back bonus if you come back.
Until then, thanks again for our time together. It’s been great having you with us.
So yeah basically something like that. Maybe with some more line breaks in it.