On April 14th The edge published a story about how Samsung’s “experts” who answer customer chats on Samsung.com were pushed into providing free customer support by both Samsung and staffing agency Ibbu. While we spoke to a dozen experts during our coverage, only one agreed to be named in the story: Jennifer Larson.
The day after our story was published, Larson received an email saying she was temporarily suspended and would have an update in a week. Over four weeks later, Ibbu informed her that she had been fired.
The email to Larson read in part:
After checking your activity on the platform, Ibbu has determined that there are grounds to terminate you from the platform. While we value and encourage all feedback from the Ibbu community and constructive communication in the live feed, using the Ibbu platform for personal communication is against the Ibbu guidelines and in this case has also led to complaints from other community members. In addition, disclosing confidential information through the Ibbu platform on social media and asking visitors directly in chat to view third-party links or content constitutes a material breach of the Policy and Agreement, which constitutes grounds for termination.
Ibbu didn’t react immediately The edge‘s request to share the quoted policies or for details on why Larson was terminated.
But Larson isn’t the only one wondering if they lost her job because she spoke out. Two other experts told us they were terminated from Samsung Mobile’s “mission” after speaking to them The edge. Another expert, with whom we did not originally speak but posted our story publicly on his LinkedIn page, has also been terminated. However, unlike Larson, they were not suspended before being fired and are free to work on other Ibbu jobs if they wish.
Before their termination, the experts’ job was to sell Samsung phones. In theory, this job consisted of logging into the Ibbus system when they felt like it, and answering questions from people who had clicked the “Chat with an Expert” button on Samsung.com. But as we pointed out in our previous report, based in part on testimonies and evidence from people who have now been fired, the system did not work as intended. Experts were often faced with support questions from people having problems with their phones or orders, rather than inquiries from customers trying to decide whether to go with the S22 Plus or Ultra.
To make matters worse, the “experts” are only paid on commission, which means they most likely won’t see a single dime for answering support chats. Even so, and despite the fact that their contract states that they shouldn’t answer support questions, the experts we spoke to felt pressured by both Ibbu and Samsung. A Samsung employee justified this by saying that answering support chats is a way to increase the experts’ customer satisfaction numbers.
This number matters to the pros — along with the percentage of chats they convert to sales, it decides whether they can keep their jobs. But as several experts have told us, it’s difficult to maintain those numbers if you disappoint customers by telling them they landed in the wrong chat and that they need to go to a different part of Samsung.com to get it reach real human.
Samsung did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on whether the company had anything to do with the termination of Larson or other Ibbu experts.
Larson’s case aside, Ibbu cited poor performance as it ended the pundits we spoke to. However, more than a week after it fired them, the company acknowledged in an internal post that out-of-scope chats are a growing problem — though its estimate of just 2.81 percent of chats being misdirected by bots is significantly lower than those suggested by experts to us. The company also said it is “continuously working to track and improve to bring that percentage down as soon as possible.”
It’s cold consolation for those who have already received unsubscribe emails citing low customer satisfaction and sales. One of the former experts tells The edge that this is not the outcome they would have chosen, but that they have “zero desire to get that job back at Samsung Mobile”. Another said they want their job back but expect big changes from Ibbu. Both mentioned that they continued to have difficulties in achieving Ibbu’s goals.
As for Larson, she’s not surprised that she got fired, although she didn’t expect Ibbu to keep her in limbo for so long. When it came to talking about how the company treated her, she said she was glad she did. “I wouldn’t change anything.”
https://www.theverge.com/2022/5/13/23067868/samsung-expert-ibbu-terminated-pay A Samsung.com “expert” has been fired after speaking out about working for free