The FINANCIAL — Despite the claims that companies in Georgia are oriented at high customer service, research done by The FINANCIAL of the leading businesses in Tbilisi shows that the majority of them don’t have a special department responsible for customer service.
The majority of companies in Georgia do not offer free phone customer service lines. What’s more their regular phone lines are often unreachable during working hours.
Wissol Petroleum Georgia and TBC Bank are in the minority of companies in the country which actually have a separate department under the name ‘Customer Service’ and the position ‘Head of Customer Service’. All the other companies surveyed by The FINANCIAL instead have hotlines where people can call with any kind of query, complaint or information. Companies consider this call centre the equivalent to customer service, but in reality the phone numbers do not provide all the information sometimes needed and do not deal with customers’ complaints.
The FINANCIAL conducted a survey and the results showed that the biggest number of complaints among Tbilisi residents are directed against Caucasus Online.
“The quality of service is very low,” complains Teo Kapanadze, a Caucasus Online user. “Every time I used my computer, the internet connection was limited. So I called the hotline and waited about half an hour for my call to be answered. Every time I managed to get through they claimed that my problem had been resolved. But the internet remained unavailable every time I turned on my computer. After about two weeks they finally found out that the cables at my home had some problems. So they then came and repaired everything very efficiently on the same day, which I did appreciate, however the problem lies in the fact that they couldn’t guess what the problem was for such a long time.”
In spite of their many unsatisfied customers Caucasus Online claims that the whole office is oriented at high quality service. Despite this claim however they don’t have a customer service department.
“I can say that we are absolutely a service-oriented company,” explained Rusudan Kapanadze, PR Manager at Caucasus Online. “We don’t have the specific position ‘Head of Customer Service’, however a very big team is working on this direction. We have a hotline which our customers can call to find solutions to their problems. The phone is free from our end, but people do have to pay their individual telephone operators’ costs.”
“We do everything to resolve all problems as soon as possible,” she added.
Bank of Georgia and Bank Republic don’t have a special customer service department, but both of them claim that departments with other names are responsible for customers and resolve their problems in the same capacity.
“We have a quality management department which controls the service quality in the whole bank and works to offer better service to our clients,” said Meri Basilashvili, Head of the Quality Management Department at Bank Republic.
“We have free phone lines and try to solve all problems as quickly as possible. The maximum time it takes to discuss and solve a problem is five days. In general the time needed to solve a problem depends on the type of complaint. Our customers are always informed about the process,” she explained.
On the other hand TBC Bank and Liberty Bank do have a specific customer service department. But the situation regarding hotlines is the same. Customers have to pay a general call cost to call the numbers. And the numbers are for general information, not for customers’ complaints specifically.
“11,019 complaints and problems were detected in the first eleven months of 2011,” said Ketevan Magalashvili, Media Relations Manager at TBC Bank. “96 percent of them, which is 10,621 complaints and problems, have been solved. Problems are solved very quickly. For example 97 percent of the problems that occurred in November were resolved in the same month.”
Aldagi BCI has a Customer Relations Management Department which includes all the employees serving insured people.
“We have a Head of Call Centre, Head of Medical Claims Department, Head of Complaints Service, and Head of Nonmedical Claims Department,” said Maiko Ivchenko, Head of the PR Division at Aldagi BCI. “We have a 24 hour call centre. If operators don’t have adequate information they transfer the calls to specific departments. We have up to 50 claims a month. The majority of claims occur because our clients don’t know the terms of their insurance well enough. They are asking us to pay for a service which is not covered by the contract.”
“About 70 percent of claims are solved on the same day. Three days is the average period for regulating other claims,” she stated.
In spite of the high quality customer service claimed by Aldagi BCI, Tbilisi resident Ia Demurishvili told The FINANCIAL that she couldn’t get information about insuring foreigners from the call centre operator.
“I was interested in the terms and prices of insuring foreigners, but the operator didn’t know enough about it,” Demurishvili said. “She recorded my number and said that she would find the information and call me back, but nobody ever got back to me.”
Wissol Petrouleum Georgia is one of the exceptions as it has a free call centre from both landline and mobile phones, as it should be for all companies.
“The 24 hour hotline serving our clients is free for landline and mobile calls as well,” said Rusudan Kbilashvili, PR & CSR Manager at Wissol Petroleum Georgia. “We are oriented on providing our customers with maximal comfort. The majority of incoming calls to our hotline are about special offers, innovative products, and campaigns offered by Wissol. Our staff always responds in a timely and helpful manner to successfully resolve the query or issue.”