Shaun Mccran

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EE creates multi-tiered customer experience with 50p call queue-jumping charge

The mobile operator Everything Everywhere has recently caused a bit of controversy by introducing a 50 pence call fee for customers who want to jump the call waiting queue. This is available for Pay monthly (Contract) and sim only customers.

This raises some interesting questions and issues, specifically about the split in the customer base because of this. EE have effectively created a tiered customer service system with this move. Intentional or not they now have priority customers and second class customers.

Why not allow this for all your customers?

This is likely due to the spending profile, when you look at the different spending profile for Contract and pay-as-you-go customers the latter are far less likely to spend money on a premium service. Their PAYG habits mean that they are less likely to require support, and far less likely to pay for it, it typically has a more independent nature.

The dangers of a two tiered customer experience

Allowing some customers to jump the queue raises difficult questions around customer priority, and service levels. If I already have a contract that I am paying reasonable money for, why should I pay more for a support service?

Also is this queue jumping pushing other customers back? Probably. At the same time, if this is viewed as a revenue stream to EE, doesn't that encourage them to present the outward view to the customer that they are very busy, and that you should be paying for a premium service? Chances are the call centre staff are being measured on how many 'paid customers' they service rather than 'free' this will be a new KPI. By creating a bigger gap between the paid and non-paid service they can outwardly justify the fee. You can call them and receive free service, but you might be waiting a REALLY long time.... Or you could pay 50p to skip the REALLY long queue and talk to an agent sooner.

Whether this is real or not is debatable, but it does show that by creating two customer experiences ('we a care a lot because you paid' and 'we don't care because you're free') you are creating a dangerous class divide.

I'm really hoping that this isn't a trend and that other call centre providers don't follow suit. News article here:

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Gary F's Gravatar I'm an EE customer and I'm wondering if this 2 tier system will create even longer queues for ordinary customers who refuse to pay their way up the queue. I refuse to pay a premium rate for a service which they should afford to every customer. But saying that, if I urgently need to speak to them because of a problem affecting my business phone then I would pay 50p, but only because they're creating an express queue and a long queue and my business might suffer if it's not sorted out quickly.
# Posted By Gary F | 27/08/2014 09:45
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# Posted By Friv 2 | 01/10/2014 01:09
James's Gravatar Gary - yes indeed it will. The system works that those who pay the fee will be pushed to the front of the queue and answered by the next available agent. This pushes everyone else back in the queue.
And of course if most customers choose to pay then it is feasible that a customer could hold forever as each new customer pays the fee and is placed in front of them.
Finally if everyone agrees to pay, then everyone is in the "premium queue" and wait times are back to where they started- but with EE raking in cash for providing no extra service.
Finally this actually encourages EE to understaff - the longer the waits to be answered, the more likely someone is to pay extra.
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