Virgin Trains (West Coast) shuts down CR call centre number & uses 'LiveChat' feature

Status
Not open for further replies.

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,053
According to the 'Contact Us' page of Virgin Trains West Coast's Passengers' Charter, the VTWC Customer Relations team can be contacted by telephone on 03331 031 031. "Telephones are staffed between 08:30 and 18.00 Mondays to Fridays and between 09:00 and 16:00 on Saturdays."

However, when calling 03331 031 031 and pressing option '6' to speak to a member of the Customer Relations team, an automated message is played, explaining that the Customer Relations team is not accepting inbound calls and passengers should instead use the 'LiveChat' feature on the VTWC website.

The VTWC website has long had a 'LiveChat' feature of sorts (this one), although this only deals with enquiries regarding tickets purchased through the VTWC website's booking engine. It is a useful feature when enquiring about the status of refunds for returned tickets (for example), but as the service is run by trainline contractors (i.e. from India), it is useless for more complex enquiries.

The 'LiveChat' recommended when calling 03331 031 031 (which can be found here) is different. The level of knowledge, and the quality of the grammar and spelling, makes it clear that this separate 'LiveChat' service is being administered by the UK-based Customer Relations team.

As long as this separate 'LiveChat' service continues to be administered by the UK-based Customer Relations team, there is nothing wrong with it. The quality of the correspondence is high, there is a written record of all correspondence, and one's position in the queue is displayed. The only improvement I can think of would be for a 'ping' sound to play when one is eventually connected to an advisor, to allow one to be occupied with some other activity while waiting to be connected with an advisor.

Three questions I have are:

1. How long has the 'LiveChat' service administered by VTWC's UK-based Customer Relations team been running?

2. Should VTWC's Passengers' Charter be revised to reflect the fact that 'LiveChat' is now the main method of communicating with the Customer Relations team, with inbound telephone calls no longer being accepted?

3. Have any other train operators adopted the approach taken by VTWC; particularly, other Stagecoach train operators?
 
Last edited:
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

fairysdad

Member
Joined
27 Dec 2010
Messages
890
Location
London, Surrey... bit of a blur round here...
1. How long has the 'LiveChat' service administered by VTWC's UK-based Customer Relations team been running?

2. Should VTWC's Passengers' Charter be revised to reflect the fact that 'LiveChat' is now the main method of communicating with the Customer Relations team, with inbound telephone calls no longer being accepted?

3. Have any other train operators adopted the approach taken by VTWC; particularly, other Stagecoach train operators?

4. What about people who don't have access to the Internet and have no desire to have access to the Internet?
 

ScouserGirl

Member
Joined
28 Dec 2015
Messages
211
When did this come into effect as when I have ring customer relations before I have never had a problem...
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,053
4. What about people who don't have access to the Internet and have no desire to have access to the Internet?

They offer a call-back facility, although I tried this twice and did not receive a return call on either occasion.
 

WatcherZero

Established Member
Joined
25 Feb 2010
Messages
9,535
They were supposedly merging customer relations contact centres for east and west coast franchises, this could be as they are in flux.
 

edwin_m

Veteran Member
Joined
21 Apr 2013
Messages
20,917
Location
Nottingham
What's the benefit to VT of providing "chat" instead of a call centre? Judging by the use of instant messaging at work it takes longer to answer a query that way than by phone so presumably costs them more. As far as I can see the only way VT saves money this way is if they can provide a trained robot that can answer most queries sensibly.
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
What's the benefit to VT of providing "chat" instead of a call centre? Judging by the use of instant messaging at work it takes longer to answer a query that way than by phone so presumably costs them more. As far as I can see the only way VT saves money this way is if they can provide a trained robot that can answer most queries sensibly.

Its easier for an agent to handle multiple chats than multiple calls. I've seen the software used when I worked for O2 Broadband. thankfully our management only expected 1 customer to be handled at a time, but if there was one person waiting (which was very rare - we'd usually be sitting around waiting for a customer) we'd open a second chat to let the waiting customer know how long we'd be.

However, the system was built for an advisor to be able to handle 4+ chats at one time.

How customer focused can you be with 4+ chats? Well, I couldn't possibly comment....
 

Crossover

Established Member
Joined
4 Jun 2009
Messages
8,742
Location
Yorkshire
I use Live Chat with suppliers from time to time (I work in I.T.) and find it useful - even if the people you're speaking to are outside the UK, you don't get the accent barrier so I find it useful
 

applepie2100

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2011
Messages
147
Its easier for an agent to handle multiple chats than multiple calls. I've seen the software used when I worked for O2 Broadband. thankfully our management only expected 1 customer to be handled at a time, but if there was one person waiting (which was very rare - we'd usually be sitting around waiting for a customer) we'd open a second chat to let the waiting customer know how long we'd be.

However, the system was built for an advisor to be able to handle 4+ chats at one time.

How customer focused can you be with 4+ chats? Well, I couldn't possibly comment....

Not Glasgow based are you? I'm from that neck of the woods myself!
 
Last edited:

RAPC

Member
Joined
30 May 2010
Messages
228
It isn't that the call centre option is gone, it is just that they re-direct you to live chat or call back when the call centre option is busy. I had to call a couple of times earlier this week and had one call answered and the live chat re-direction on the other. The live chat service was excellent and is run from the CS team in Birmingham.
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
It isn't that the call centre option is gone, it is just that they re-direct you to live chat or call back when the call centre option is busy. I had to call a couple of times earlier this week and had one call answered and the live chat re-direction on the other. The live chat service was excellent and is run from the CS team in Birmingham.

Funnily enough, I just tried it. I didn't realise it was out of hours until I got the out of hours message.

I wasn't directed online, I was however given the opportunity to leave a voice message.

I fear this is another example of people wanting to see the worst of virgin, and spinning anything to their detriment. Its as I said before, if Virgin gave away lollipops, someone would be on here winging about them ignoring diabetics.

But, before giving final judgement, I might try calling them in open hours tomorrow and see what it says for myself.
 
Last edited:

PHILIPE

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Nov 2011
Messages
12,887
Location
Caerphilly
Sounds like another victim of the advance of technology and automation. People should always be able to speak to a person, anything other than the personal touch is, in reality, bad manners to me. People are bound to disagree with me but I like to be treated as a person and be able to speak person to person. and not to a what amounts as a robot. Advances in technology are a great thing but they have their time and place.
 
Last edited:

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
Sounds like another victim of the advance of technology and automation. People should always be able to speak to a person, anything other than the personal touch is, in reality, bad manners to me. People are bound to disagree with me but I like to be treated as a person and be able to speak person to person. and not to a what amounts as a robot. Advances in technology are a great thing but they have their time and place.

Even if the allegation is correct - and it looks sketchy - its still a human at the other end.
 

Kingsman

Member
Joined
9 Jul 2013
Messages
16
join the 20th century?
43 miles from Charing Cross, we have no mobile signal from any company, and supposedly "super-fast fibre" gives us something around 4 Mbps (if the land line is not down), so you should think before you are so dismissive of people relying on telephone calls.
 

jon0844

Veteran Member
Joined
1 Feb 2009
Messages
24,747
Location
UK
I wasn't a fan of live chats before I started to use them, as you couldn't have the usual conversation and banter, but with so many outsourced centres having people you can't do that with (due to language barriers and poor line quality) it doesn't really matter.

The big plus is I can start a live chat request and carry on doing other things. And even when I'm conversing, I can carry on rather than hold the phone when waiting for something to be checked.

The best thing is that I can make sure I get my point across more clearly in text, and know that a record is kept - and I'll even get a copy for my own records. That makes it much easier for me to confirm what was said, and also anyone else seeking to check (compared to listening to an audio call).

Of course it's all helping destroy our ability to have conversations, but I still say they're the future.

Until Facebook bots replace the real staff with a computer program and all staff are sacked...
 

route:oxford

Established Member
Joined
1 Nov 2008
Messages
4,949
43 miles from Charing Cross, we have no mobile signal from any company, and supposedly "super-fast fibre" gives us something around 4 Mbps (if the land line is not down), so you should think before you are so dismissive of people relying on telephone calls.

You don't need 4Mbps for effective text chat to operate!

That's around 80,000 times faster than needed to transmit text at 60 words per minute.

People make a lifestyle choices. Don't live near NIMBYs who through wobblies in the past about mobile phone masts if you want a decent signal.
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
The message I get for option 6 is "sorry we're not taking calls at the moment..." Then it promotes web chat.

That positioning suggests that it's temporary to me rather than shutting down a call centre (plus the other options seem unaffected).
 

route:oxford

Established Member
Joined
1 Nov 2008
Messages
4,949

Well...

You could "chat online" with Prestel back in the 1980s with a 1200/75 combined keyboard and modem.

You must have seen a teletyper/teleprinter on TV programmes in the 1970s too?

In the 1980s I used one of the machines below to communicate with my fellow operator at the "Controller" branch...

I typed a message of up to 79 charcters and she was prompted to insert a sheet of paper in the printer to read my message and could respond similarly.

There's nothing new with "webchat".

 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
65,449
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I have mixed views on them. I think they are useful for things that are out of the ordinary, but I also think that companies need a decent incident management/ticketing system as well for the kind of thing that just needs a detailed email and a response.
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,053
The message I get for option 6 is "sorry we're not taking calls at the moment..." Then it promotes web chat.

That positioning suggests that it's temporary to me rather than shutting down a call centre (plus the other options seem unaffected).

I have been told that it is a trial, which is why I am interested to know how long the 'LiveChat' service has been running.

The Customer Relations call centre is supposedly still running (although describing it as a 'centre' is difficult without knowing how many operators there are), as I have already mentioned.

Option 1 puts you through to VT East Coast, option 2 through to NRE, option 3 through to the trainline, option 4 plays a recorded message, and option 5 puts you through to the lost property office. I don't know where the lost property office is based.
 

jayah

Established Member
Joined
18 Apr 2011
Messages
1,242
join the 20th century?

Sounds like a fantastically arrogant attutude. Don't think everyone is like you. The stats on people who don't use the internet will surprise you.

I would think there are also major DDA issues around such a policy as partially sighted people for one are going to be severely disadvantaged.

And as has been mentioned already - live chat is just a rubbish tool. If you want a one word answer out of a colleague at another site it is good. Anything more and a 30sec phone call takes about 5min on live chat.

It is just a cheap and nasty way to get past the fact that offshore call centre operatives tend to have dire spoken but very good written English.
 

mbreckers

Member
Joined
20 Jan 2015
Messages
365
Some people prefer actually speaking to someone over a text-based chat.

As someone with Autism I find it difficult enough to communicate with someone when I only have their voice to go on, it's even more difficult with just some text on a screen
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
65,449
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Some people prefer actually speaking to someone over a text-based chat.

As someone with Autism I find it difficult enough to communicate with someone when I only have their voice to go on, it's even more difficult with just some text on a screen

That's quite interesting, as I've often heard it said that the more you take out nuances of body language/non-linguistic aspects of speech, the easier it is made for some autistic people, because they have only to analyse precisely what is written, not any nuances of unwritten/unspoken mannerisms.

Horses for courses I guess. My preference is even more traditional - I prefer to write a letter in detail (albeit one I would send by e-mail or via an incident management system), and for someone to spend the time[1] to properly read, analyse and investigate and give a similarly detailed response addressing all my points, with no need to bounce back and forth. Or for specific things like Delay Repay, for a simple form to be provided requesting all the information required to deal with the issue in one go.

My *overall* preference is that the service should operate as described with no need for me to contact customer services at all! :)

[1] A standard letter, or deliberately ignoring points because they may be a little difficult to deal with, is a clear indication of a company that finds it acceptable to treat their customers with utter contempt.
 
Last edited:

mbreckers

Member
Joined
20 Jan 2015
Messages
365
That's quite interesting, as I've often heard it said that the more you take out nuances of body language/non-linguistic aspects of speech, the easier it is made for some autistic people, because they have only to analyse precisely what is written, not any nuances of unwritten/unspoken mannerisms.

Horses for courses I guess. My preference is even more traditional - I prefer to write a letter in detail (albeit one I would send by e-mail or via an incident management system), and for someone to spend the time[1] to properly read, analyse and investigate and give a similarly detailed response addressing all my points, with no need to bounce back and forth. Or for specific things like Delay Repay, for a simple form to be provided requesting all the information required to deal with the issue in one go.

My *overall* preference is that the service should operate as described with no need for me to contact customer services at all! :)

[1] A standard letter, or deliberately ignoring points because they may be a little difficult to deal with, is a clear indication of a company that finds it acceptable to treat their customers with utter contempt.

For me theres a balance where I get to little information so that I cant understand like the feelings in a conversation, so for text chat I wouldnt be able easily to tell if someone was being sarcastic, bored, angry etc.

At the other end for me if its a face to face conversation sometimes i can be getting too much information from body signals, voice etc. where I just get overloaded, which is just as annoying.

For me personally I find I can (depending on what its about etc.) handle phone calls better than either of the other two.

Everyone is different after all, I'm lucky that my form of Autism is really mild, a lot of Autistic people have it more sever than me, and I've been able to adapt to it better and over time learned how to read people and understand social situations better
 

jon0844

Veteran Member
Joined
1 Feb 2009
Messages
24,747
Location
UK
And as has been mentioned already - live chat is just a rubbish tool. If you want a one word answer out of a colleague at another site it is good. Anything more and a 30sec phone call takes about 5min on live chat.

It is just a cheap and nasty way to get past the fact that offshore call centre operatives tend to have dire spoken but very good written English.

Did my post get deleted or something, or was my opinion discounted because it didn't suit the 'rubbish tool' argument.

I am not sure when I last had a 30 second call to customer services. Besides the need to get through to the right department, you then have the security checks and so on - and often have to hold just so they can give recorded announcements to give information that might get a percentage of callers to hang up and go online for information.

A live chat is usually near instant to start. Sure you need to do the security stuff, but after you can get straight down to business.

PLUS as I said, the big advantage is you can get over your point very clearly and if it's not understood or there's a later issue, it's VERY easy to prove what was said. Far easier than digging out a phone call and having to interpret what was said, especially if there's anything that sounds ambiguous.

If you're negotiating a discount or dealing with a billing problem, having it in writing is MUCH better. It doesn't even matter if you spend more time on the chat.

And when I'm on a live chat, I can be doing other things. No need to hold a phone or use speaker. Chances are the person won't even know I'm doing something else, and yet I won't miss anything that's said to me.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top