Cognopia recently moved our HQ, and in the process, we needed to cancel the old Broadband subscription (held with StarHub) and install a new connection in our new office. At the same time we decided to bring the mobile phone contracts held by Cognopia’s Directors under the same Business contract – it made life easier for us to have a single bill for all Telecommunications services Cognopia uses in one place, reducing time spent on expenses claims and payments and using economies of scale to get a better deal.
We were free to select any telco as our provider – the mobile numbers and broadband contracts had all run their term. The good news for StarHub is their Enterprise Sales Team are great – easy to deal with, helpful, knowledgeable and quick to respond. StarHub beat Singtel hands-down in this regard and it was a straightforward decision for us to select their services. Unfortunately this is where the good news ends.
Customer Onboarding Process
Upon onboarding Cognopia to StarHub’s Broadband and Mobile phone packages we were required to complete a range of forms as well as submit certain legal documents (such as our business registration document). This process is where StarHub captures new customer information, but as we’ll see below it’s also an opportunity for StarHub to cleanse any existing records they might have on Cognopia, or on the records of staff members whose phones they would be providing. In total we provided:
1. The Cognopia BizFile – this is a document issued by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore
- This provides details on our shareholding, Directors, and most importantly our legally registered address
2. National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) copies (front and back) for the staff receiving the phones
- This provides details of the Staff Names, Addresses and NRIC number (social security number in Singapore)
3. A slew of New User sign-up forms (all paper based) that captured our customer contact details and documented the contractual terms, conditions, benefits and restrictions we were agreeing to
We had a prior StarHub Enterprise Account from our last office; however this had been terminated and we were essentially onboarded as an entirely new entity.
On Christmas Eve I was heading out to enjoy a spot of Axe Throwing with one of the other Directors of the firm. It felt like a fun way to wind down and de-stress after a challenging and rewarding year. Whilst in the taxi I realised I couldn’t check my emails, and for some reason the 4G signal had failed. I asked Sayonnara to check her phone to see if she was also out of signal, and sure enough she was. I still had a few outstanding emails I wanted to reply to, so I called StarHub’s support line to check why their 4G signal was down. It turned out there was nothing wrong with the 4G, instead StarHub had cut us off (without warning), because we had apparently not paid our most recent bills.
- This was a rather strange outcome, because at that time I had not yet received my first bill from StarHub
- There was no communication from StarHub that warned us of the impending cut off, so it came entirely out of the blue
- There was no mechanism to rectify this over their phone line, as it is an automated service that requests your mobile phone number to route you through, and this automated line insisted my phone number was invalid
Luckily for us the Axe Throwing venue provided Wi-Fi so we were able to send emails to the Account Management and Support Teams alerting them of this issue. Sayonnara also called the billing hotline to try and pay the bills so we could get reconnected. On the phone we discovered:
1. StarHub had sent our bill to our old office address (a paper bill, when we wanted electronic billing).
- This should not have been an issue as we have also paid for 6 months of postal redirection services so anything sent to our old address should be re-routed to the new address, but it should never have been sent incorrectly in the first place
2. The Account Number I could view via their StarHub Business Manager app was not a valid account number and had no bill associated with it
3. There are three Account Numbers associated with our account, however none of those worked either
4. You cannot pay a bill directly from their own app (??!??)
5. They could not process a payment over the phone, as they had Sayonnara’s “FIN” number (in Singapore a foreigner gets a “Foreigner Identity Number” or FIN when they’re on an Employment Pass – however Sayonnara has been a Permanent Resident for 4 years and therefore no longer has this ID) – and therefore did not recognise her as a valid customer
Eventually we managed to get the team to restore our service, however paying the bill via an AXS station and via their online portal also proved frustrating as the Account Number displayed via their Application is not the number you need to use to make payment in the portal. Even visiting their physical retail stores was pointless – the team here has no access to the systems used by the Enterprise account team and could not take payment either.
Clearly this kind of customer experience is horrible – you’ve got customers that are cut off without warning, without ever seeing a phone or broadband bill (because you sent their bill to the wrong address), with no communication to them because you’ve not registered their phones against their names (even though you’re the telecommunications provider). Worse still, this issue creates an opportunity for missed billing – or at the very least late payments and additional internal admin costs as we talk to ~7-8 different StarHub personnel before the problem is resolved.
Check out the next article to find out what we think StarHub can do about this issue, or take a look at our previous article highlighting The Benefits of a Single Customer View.