We lost internet service at our residence on the afternoon of Thursday June 6. We got it back on the afternoon of Thursday June 13. What follows is an account of the extreme effort on my part to have our service restored and a tale of a huge service provider that appears to be nothing more than a PR and marketing shell. Harsh? You decide for yourself.
Our FLOW Internet Went Down
We live in rural(ish) St. Andrew, Jamaica, a 20 minute drive into the hills from Kingston city. Some wires were torn down by an operator of a back hoe trying to create access to a piece of land just up the road from us. We lost power only initially. The power provider JPS were quick to respond and had us up and running by sundown that Thursday. We lost internet service that same day, ostensibly due to the torn down wires.
FLOW Jamaica on Twitter: Joke Ting!
I tweeted FLOW Jamaica on Friday morning:
And right now, we’re without internet access from @FLOWJamaica. What kind of person creates damage and makes no report? Please work with @myJPSonline, @FLOWJamaica to have service restored ASAP. Coopers Hill, St. Andrew.— Kelly McIntosh (@KellyKatharin) June 7, 2019
At 12:28pm that day I still had not received any acknowledgement of my tweet from Flow. I pressed again. Finally, a response:
Hey Kelly, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We appreciate it.— FLOW Jamaica (@FLOWJamaica) June 7, 2019
That’s it. WTF? So H decided to log a formal complaint through Flow’s prescribed and extremely painful system on Friday evening. He called their 1-800 number and after one million options and waiting and waiting some more, he logged the issue and got a tracking number.
Saturday came and went, no joy. On Sunday morning I decided to check in with twitter Flow again:
Happy Sunday Morning to @FLOWJamaica. We’re still without internet & cable since Thursday in Coopers Hill, St. Andrew. Can we get an update please? I sense no urgency.— Kelly McIntosh (@KellyKatharin) June 9, 2019
I followed up on Monday morning to this tweet, because yet again, there was radio silence from Flow! Here’s the convo that ensued when they finally decided to respond:
Good morning Kelly, we apologize for the delayed response. Our team is currently engaging the issue to ensure restoration in the shortest possible time. We will update when we have been advised.— FLOW Jamaica (@FLOWJamaica) June 10, 2019
Thank you for your response. I gather that the adjoining community of Rock Hall, St. Andrew lost internet & cable, like us Thursday gone. The citizens made a lot of noise, loud replete with bad words. Their service was restored Saturday evening. Is that what I need to do?
— Kelly McIntosh (@KellyKatharin) June 10, 2019
No need, the restoration is ongoing and should be up in the shortest possible time.
— FLOW Jamaica (@FLOWJamaica) June 10, 2019
I continue to plead and agitate on Twitter:
Still without internet & cable from @FLOWJamaica. Now Logic1 cable is gone. But garbage is collected. We got water yesterday. We have light. Digicel data is working. I should be grateful, right? I’m tired. Why must the basics of life that I FUCKING PAY FOR be a crap shoot?
— Kelly McIntosh (@KellyKatharin) June 11, 2019
FLOW Jamaica slides into my DM, I think to quiet me. I give them my contact details when they explain that someone is going to contact me. I wait a few hours, no call from FLOW. So I out them:
Hi @FLOWJamaica. You DMed me this morning asking me for my number so that someone from your organisation could contact me. That was at 10:40am. I gave you my @DIGICELJamaica number since that’s the only one that’s working, and I’m yet to receive a call from Flow. What gives?— Kelly McIntosh (@KellyKatharin) June 11, 2019
Crisis in full FLOW!
At this stage, I was desperate. I called the 1-800 number (an excruciating experience by the way!) and was advised that THERE IS NO ISSUE IN COOPERS HILL! I put out an urgent cry for help on Twitter asking for someone, anyone on my TL with clout at Flow to help me. A very kind man, a Flow Jamaica employee, slid into my DMs in the best way possible. He took my tracking number and came back to me with solid, credible info. As far as Flow Jamaica was concerned, THEY HAD FIXED THE ISSUE FROM SATURDAY. Remember the adjoining community of Rock Hall and the fact that they were up and running since Saturday evening?
So FLOW Jamaica ASSUMED that we in Coopers Hill were whole again. Despite a formal complaint in their system no one at Flow thought to verify with me, the customer, that all was well! WTF again ???
My Flow Knight on Twitter was the only one giving me credible information at this stage. This is Monday evening. Recall we lost service the previous Thursday, logged a formal complaint Friday evening, eventually got a vague BS response from Flow on Twitter, was advised by 1-800 when I called that there was no issue. Flow Knight advised that a technician would visit by Wednesday. Beggars, because at this stage, this is obviously what we are, can’t be choosers. Technicians came to the area on Wednesday, did some work and disappeared, WITH NARY A WORD TO ME to see if we were up and running again.
I should note that by this time, yet another Flow agent, this one officially assigned to me (he was part of the social media marketing team) was in touch with me via phone. He kept having to wait for updates from the supervisor of the contractor technician to pass on to me. When we spoke on Thursday morning, he was surprised to hear that we were still without service, as the update he received was that “some fixes were done” and all is well. HOW DID THE TECHNICIAN KNOW THAT ALL WAS WELL?
FLOW says they “fixed” the issue, yet I’m still without service!
At this stage, I was livid. The technician was right outside my gate on Wednesday. Why did he not think to ask if service was restored once he had finished his fixes? So now Official Flow Marketer on my phone and Flow Knight in my DMs knew that I was still not up and running. They made calls on my behalf and then I got a call from a technician. This is now exactly one week later, the afternoon of Thursday June 13. The technician appeared in 30 minutes after his call, came to my gate and explained that he was going to check some connections in the area. He drove a few meters up the road, mounted his ladder, and I kid you not, in exactly a minute and a half after climbing his ladder, service was restored.
Lessons FLOW Jamaica needs to learn
There’s a lot to unpack coming out of this experience. Let’s start with two basic questions:
- Why wasn’t the customer (ME) contacted after the team “fixed” the issue on Saturday afternoon? A simple call for validation that the job was done would have highlighted the gap, and perhaps we could have been restored by Monday the latest.
- Why wasn’t the customer (ME) contacted after a return visit to the area on Wednesday after “additional fixes were implemented” ? Once again, a return visit by the contractor could have been avoided and a customer satisfied.
- Why did it take 3 attempts to fix an issue that literally took 90 seconds to fix once the customer insisted that the problem remained? Where exactly does QUALITY CONTROL sit in FLOW Jamaica’s operational practices?
- Without Flow Marketer and Flow Knight on my side, would I even have been heard? It is thanks to my Twitter community who amplified my distress calls that I think I was eventually heard. I pity the Flow customer who needs redress and has no one to help them shout.
FLOW Jamaica: nothing more than a PR and Marketing Shell
FLOW is really nothing more than a PR and marketing shell of an organisation.
Who is in charge of Operations? I gather that Flow has outsourced practically every single aspect of the operation, the product that they sell. And sure, that’s a valid strategy that saves money. I have my own thoughts on outsourcing and stripping away critical core competences within any organisation, but that’s for another time. There has to be someone in-house responsible for managing third party providers to ensure that they deliver as planned and that customers are satisfied. But it is painfully evident that either there’s no one in-house holding contractors to defined key performance indicators or that the person is piss poor at their job.
I gather too that with the outsourcing of various functions has come a breakdown in communication between internal teams. Again, who in-house is responsible for integration between the various functions, out-sourced or not, to ensure co-ordination in activity, internal communication and one seamless interface for the customer? Either there’s no one (and if so WHY?) or that person is piss poor at their job.
Recommendations for FLOW Jamaica
I recommend that the executive team pretend to be a customer with an issue. Use your own prescribed channel for logging complaints and see for yourself if it is efficient and experience what your customers go through. Call the 1-800 number if yuh bad. See how we feel.
I further recommend that the executive team do a “cradle to grave” study of a few randomly selected complaints. Don’t intervene in the resolution. Just quietly identify them, and track how they’re handled to the point of resolution through your system. Your software and operating systems should allow you to do this.
Who exactly is in charge at FLOW Jamaica?
I wish I could nominate with a little more specificity than “the executive team”…. but I can’t find an management or organisational structure anywhere. Is there an Operations executive? Who is responsible for Customer Experience? All I know is the CEO. I don’t know how to contact him. Why? All that exists is a useless Twitter interface at @FLOWJamaica and a black hole at their 1-800 number which links you to any one of nameless, faceless call operators.
Dear FLOW: THIS is what Customer Service is!
In conclusion, since FLOW Jamaica obviously doesn’t get it, Good Customer Service is not a polite person at the end of the phone apologizing and logging an issue. Good Customer Service is having robust operational procedures that are actually monitored and managed so that Customers get what they pay for. You’re trashed every day on social media. Does this not matter to you? Your latest “Your Hustle” campaign is an affront to every small business operator in the island. I work from home and for one week my “hustle” as you put it, was compromised! I was able to communicate with my customers and clients thanks to Digicel’s cell signal (oh…you have no cell signal where I live).
Where there are well defined standard operating procedures and a culture and practice of basic management principles (including monitoring output and outcomes) good customer service is automatic.
Competition can wipe you out. I eagerly await a viable option.
Who Exactly is Flow?
Lifted from their website here: As part of the Liberty Latin America group of companies, Cable & Wireless (FLOW) is one of the leading telecommunications and entertainment providers in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Our team of over 7,000 people is united through our shared values of serving our customers with passion, striving to be the best, working as one team, and respecting and trusting one another. So we stand ready to meet and surpass the expectations of our five million customers across the Caribbean and Latin America.