on April 14, The edge published a story about how Samsung’s ‘experts’, who answer customer chats on Samsung.com, were forced by both Samsung and staffing agency Ibbu to provide free customer support. While we spoke to a dozen experts during our reporting, only one was willing to be named in the story: Jennifer Larson.
The day after our story was published, Larson received an email saying she was being temporarily suspended and would receive an update within a week. More than four weeks later, Ibbu told her she had been fired.
The email to Larson read in part:
After reviewing your activity on the platform, Ibbu has determined that there are grounds to terminate you from the platform. While we value and encourage feedback from the Ibbu community and constructive communication on the live feed, using the Ibbu platform for face-to-face communication violates Ibbu policy and has resulted in complaints from other community members in this case. In addition, disclosing confidential information about the Ibbu Platform on social media and encouraging visitors to view third-party links or content directly in the chat is a material violation of the Policy and the Agreement, which constitutes a ground for termination. forms.
Ibbu did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request to share the policies it cites or for details on why it terminated Larson.
But Larson isn’t alone in wondering if she lost her job for speaking out. Two other experts told us they were fired from the Samsung Mobile “mission” after talking to The edge† Another expert, whom we didn’t speak to originally, but posted our story publicly on their LinkedIn page, was also terminated. However, unlike Larson, they were not suspended before being fired, and they can work at other Ibbu jobs if they wish.
Before they were discontinued, the experts’ job was to sell Samsung phones. In theory, that job involved logging into Ibbu’s system whenever they felt like it and answering questions from people who clicked the “Chat with an expert” button on Samsung.com. But as we explained in our previous report, based in part on testimonials and evidence from people who have now been fired, the system did not work as intended. Experts often faced support inquiries from people who had issues with their phones or orders rather than questions from customers trying to decide whether to go for the S22 Plus or Ultra.
To make matters worse, the “Experts” are only paid on commission, which means that it is very unlikely that they will see even one cent for answering support chats. Despite that, and despite the fact that their contract states that they are not allowed to answer support questions, the experts we spoke to felt pressured by both Ibbu and Samsung. A Samsung employee justified it by suggesting that answering support chats was a way to boost the experts’ customer satisfaction ratings.
That number is important to the experts – it, along with the percentage of chats they convert to sales, determines whether they can keep their jobs. But as several experts pointed out to us, it’s hard to keep up with those numbers if you’re disappointing customers by telling them they’ve landed in the wrong chat and they should go to another part of Samsung.com to find the right person. .
Samsung did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment on whether the company had anything to do with the firing of Larson or other Ibbu experts.
Aside from Larson’s case, Ibbu cited poor performance when it terminated the experts we spoke to. However, more than a week after letting them go, the company acknowledged in an internal post that out-of-reach chats were a growing problem — although the estimate that only 2.81 percent of chats are misrouted by bots is significantly lower. than what experts suggested. The company also said it is “constantly monitoring and improving this to reduce this percentage as soon as possible.”
It’s cold comfort to those who have already received termination emails stating low customer satisfaction and sales figures. One of the former experts said: The edge that this is not the outcome they would have chosen, but that they “have no desire whatsoever to get that job back at Samsung Mobile.” Another said they want their jobs back but would like to see big changes from Ibbu. Both said they were still struggling to achieve Ibbu’s goals.
As for Larson, she’s not surprised she was eventually fired, though she didn’t expect Ibbu to keep her in the dark for so long. However, when it came to speaking up about the way the company treated her, she said she was glad she did. “I wouldn’t change anything.”