Church of the Customer Blog« Does remarkable customer service in telecom/wireless exist? | Main | Being Kevin Nalty »
June 18, 2007
Does remarkable customer service in telecom/wireless exist?
I am doing a talk for a large wireless carrier later this week. They have challenged me to include an example of remarkable customer service from the telecom/wireless industry. It would be even better if the example had to do with the call center itself.
Does this even exist? Have you read about an example? Have you had one yourself? Do tell!
UPDATE: Thanks for the comments so far. Just to clarify, I'm looking for a story of an actual customer service encounter. Maybe you read about one on a blog or you have a story to tell. The more details the better. And I will make sure to credit you in the presentation. And I will be eternally grateful : )
Other blogs that reference Does remarkable customer service in telecom/wireless exist?:
» Help Jackie with telco remarkable customer service examples from weconverse
My personal experience, and what I have heard from others, is that telecom/wireless operators suck when it comes to customer services. But it would for sure be nice to know about some good, and thus inspiring, cases. Jackie Huba , marketing consultant,... [Read More]
» What Makes Great CustomerService? from Customers Rock!
As a regular attender at Ben and Jackies Church of the Customer, I want to help highlight their call for assistance. Jackie is speaking later this week (any day now!) to a large wireless carrier, and she is looking for stories about a WOW c... [Read More]
» Does remarkable customer service in telecom/wireless exist? from Rock Research Blog
The call has come out from Church of the Customer for an example of remarkable customer service from the telecom/wireless industry. Coincidentally just as I read this I received a call out of the blue from Telecom checking to see if I wa... [Read More]
» Re: Does remarkable customer service in telecom/wireless exist? from Multichannel Musings
A couple of weeks ago, the Church of the Customer blog posed this question to its readers. In respo... [Read More]
I used to work for Rogers Media, which belongs to the same corporate family as Rogers Wireless - the leading wireless company in Canada.
I always had a good experience when dealing with their customer service people, but I put it down to a trick I used...Ask the person you're speaking to where they're based. Most call-centers are outsourced operations so they could be based literally anywhere. Whatever they say (it isn't important where they're based) tell them "oh yeah, that's cool. I wont at the head office in (wherever the HQ is for that firm)". I always got nothing but the best of service.
Of course, I realize how unfortunate it is that I had to resort to this tactic.
I know this doesn't help you with your talk, but Rogers has a decent reputation for customer service, even though for every person you could find with good things to say, there's at least one with something bad to say. Perhaps it just shows how we've come to expect bad, rather than good, customer service.
When we do surveys we consistently find that Cox has better customer service ratings than any other US cable company.
No cable company is excellent but Cox is pretty good. Our surveys are in line with most of the rest of the industry.
Cox has a smaller footprint, has been selling triple play for longer than anyone else (and in triple play, bad service is a disaster, you lose $150 per month) and was taken private so they don't have to answer to Wall St.
The telecom/wireless world is a tough one from a call center support viewpoint because of all the tariffs, charges and regulations one has to explain and justify to the caller. I have dealt for years with AT&T/Cingular, Comcast and Verizon as a customer and with Time Warner Cable as a vendor/consultant.
As with any other type of center, you have both good and bad agents on the phone. I always try, after having a particularly difficult call, to be escalated to a supervisor to discuss my experience, both good and bad. When someone goes out of their way to help, I will sing their praises to the supervisor. Naturally, I will let the supervisor know when I've had a bad experience.
My experience from both sides is that we do not do enough to praise the good agents, who struggle and do exist.
I am a Cablevision customer in Connecticut. I have had several reasons to contact them recently. Customer service has been fast and first-rate each time.
I called them at 8:30p on weekday night because the HD channels were messed up. I was getting Fox channel 5 on HBO HD channel 750. There were other related issues. Half an hour later a technician called me back to see if the problem had been resolved. It was not. He said he would be back to me in 20 minutes. He was and the problem was resolved.
I ordered VoIP from Cablevision to replace my Vonage. I wanted to self-install the new combo cable modem and VoIP adapter. Their software screwed up. I called customer service. I got a technician in a minute or two. She knew what she was doing and we resolved the issue. She was professional and knowledgeable.
Two weeks later, I decided to switch to Cablevision’s VoIP permanently and port my number from Vonage to Cablevision. They needed to send a technician to switch the cable modem. (I do not know why.) They called the day before to confirm the appointment. They called the morning of the appointment to confirm. The technician called about 15 minutes before he arrived to tell me he was coming. He made the switch.
Kudos to Cablevision support.
If by remarkable you mean remarkably bad, then yes, remarkable customer service exists in all but a tiny percentage of large corporations. As a former customer service rep/call center manager I'm shocked and appalled at how bad it really is and outsourcing to foreign countries has just compounded the issue. It makes me sad.
you know, I have a smaller cable company, Cable America, and they really only service like Arizona, and my small area in St Louis.
When I call them, for cable problems, I get the small office down the street, their installers are all Cable America Employees, and some of the nicest guys. They have even made appointments on Sundays in certain isntances to fix stuff.
I had a lot of problems with my DVR system, the motorola box just kept messing up. Now usually a company would make you set an appointment, the typical 4 hour block, just to swap out the box. Cable america actually let me bring my existing and hosed DVR to them, and just pick up a new one and put it in myself.
The amount of time and headaches that simple act of not treating me like a half witted moron that cant do anything himself, it spoke volumes towards customer relations.
My other options in cable in the general area I am in is Charter, DirectTV, or Cable America. Not only does Cable america consistantly come in far cheaper per month than both other options, they also provide excellent service.
Hell when the CS rep said "let me call you back after I check on that special that just expired on your plan" she actually called me back the next day, and reinstated the special I had for the past year that just expired.
Anytime somone moves into my town, I recommend Cable America to them
Promise Phelon of the The Phelon Group blogs about her personal story of remarkable customer service from Verizon.
See her story about service with "genuine interest and trust from a smart person" at http://www.phelongroup.com/blog/2006/08/when-your-long-term-customers-defect.htm
Surprisingly, my story comes from Comcast. I had called last week to see if I could get a break on my Internet bill. I was going to leave the country for several months and didn't really want to shelling out $60/month for service I wasn't going to use.
So I called. I had done a bit of research that showed that Verizon was offering a nice deal for about $25/month (first month free, $20 for months 2-7, $30 for the rest of the year PLUS a free wireless router). The service was slower, but I figured I could use the price as a bit of leverage at least. The customer service representative (let us call her "A") seemed pretty harried when she picked up. The conversation didn't start off on the right tone and she essentially told me to shut up at one point because she had to get through what I believe was some sort of customer service script.
I told her I wanted to disconnect. I was so fed up that I decided it would be worth it to just find a new service provider once I returned.
The next day, my Internet stopped working. I called and apparently customer service rep A had disconnected it after our conversation although I had *already paid* for that month. Customer service representative B promised to reconnect my service so that I could have it for the month I had already paid for. It was reconnected within minutes.
Still a little peeved but really not wanting to go through the hassle of changing service, I called Comcast one last time.
And then I met the godsend that is Jesse. Jesse, the Comcast service representative who I shall call if I ever need anything from Comcast again, was polite, a good listener, gracious, and got things done.
I explained my situation and he immediately shaved $25 OFF my monthly bill (still higher than Verizon's price, but worth it) and gave me a token $20 rebate. I told him that I would call him again since I was considering getting cable service once I returned to the country. Jesse's number is 703-730-2225 ext. 4397.
I've been with T-Mobile for about 4 years, and have had several great experiences with their over-the-phone customer service. Where to begin? Their CSRs are actually helpful and provide good information. I've actually had reps would couldn't immediately answer my questions actually call me back once they got an answer. That alone seems astounding!
My first phone with them was a Nokia model that kept breaking. The technology just wasn't ripe yet, but the T-Mobile reps I called kept sending me replacements. After the 4th one, I decided to bite the bullet and get something else--but the assistance I got from the call center reps was fantastic.
At the end of my first year with them, I called in to cancel to save a couple of bucks a month by going with a competitor, and a T-Mobile rep gave me 50% more minutes per month to keep my business. It was pleasant, no high pressure, but the additional minutes was a great deal, I couldn't turn it down. At the end of that year-long contract, they let me keep the extension package, even though it's not offered any more. I've looked at their other packages online from time to time, and even now there's nothing comparable available--and what's more, the website has LARGE RED LETTERS warning me that if I switch to another package, I won't be able to switch back to the heavily discounted "retention" package. I really appreciate that kind of honest behavior.
Another example: I got whacked with an extra $60 for overage minutes, and called to tell a rep it would be nice to have some sort of notification if/when my plan minutes were exceeded. The rep told me T-Mobile had received a lot of complaints about that issue, and to wait about another month because they were rolling out a new automatic overage notification service. Sure enough, they did, though it was actually two months later--this service is great, I don't feel as if I'm being sandbagged now, and the service gives me advance warning before I actually run out of minutes.
Payments: I've had a couple of times in the past when money was a little tight, and both times the payment reps I spoke with gave me a little grace period rather than just cut my service. That was pretty neat. They were very up-front and said they couldn't *promise* anything, but they did flag my account and service continued uninterrupted during the grace period.
Oh yeah, and a final note but one that is important for people frustrated by vm-hell: their reps are pretty good about sharing secret "shortcuts" to get through the T-Mobile vm system, so you can get through quickly to the appropriate department.
Hope this helps, email me if you need more examples.
I've been a Comcast customer for about 6 years. The service has been pretty good, and customer service as well. There was one exceptionally good encounter with a rep who came to check up why I could not receive OnDemand:
The guy walks in, notices my son's stroller and a closed bedroom door. He immediately asks if the little guy is napping. I say yes, so he continues to speak softly the whole time, and my son continues to nap through the whole visit.
We have a no shoes policy at home, so I asked him if he could take his shoes off. He says it is company policy to not do that, but he has plastic slippers in his car, and he promptly goes to get them.
He thoroughly and effectively examined my system, explained to me what he was doing, and found bad splitters and connectors on my cable, as well as noticing I had the signal going through my VCR before going into the DVR which also lowered the signal quality. He rewired my entertainment center and replaced the connectors, and I got OnDemand.
I was so impressed with him I called Comcast and asked his supervisor to thank him for me. They took all his info and the work order # so I hope that eventually translated into some kind of bonus for him; he certainly deserved it.
I firmly believe that if more people gave feedback like this, for good and bad, the service would eventually improve overall.
I've been a T-Mobile customer for about a year since leaving Cingular due to customer service problems. I had to pay cancellation fees on 3 lines to leave Cingular, but was mad enough to do so. I spend about $4000 a year on cell phone service so I figure I'm a pretty decent non-corporate customer.
I've been very impressed with T-Mobile's customer service so far. A few key points:
1. I can actually get a real person on the phone in less that 3 minutes. Its amazing, you hit the zero button and usually less than a minute later your talking to a real person. You only have to try and get through to a real person with one of the other providers to realize how HUGE this is.
2. I recently noticed that I was being charged $15 a month for a service that I wasn't using on my BlackBerry. I'd been given a free trial of the service for 30 days when I signed up and then I'd dropped by the store and asked them to remove it and it hadn't happened. I called T-Mobile and explained the situation and to my absolute amazement and delight the CSR I spoke with said, "I'll take care of that, Sir." And she actually applied a $90 credit to my account without checking with 3 different supervisors.
Needless to say...regardless of the horror stories I've read online about T-Mobile...so far, I'm a very satisfied customer. I pay slightly more for service with them than I would for a similar plan from another provider, but they seem to have the best signal coverage where I work up in the mountains and being able to speak to real person who can actually do something is worth the premium price.
Woodland Park, CO
Having just spent over 40 minutes on the phone with AT&T, no wait, Singular, no wait, AT&T I can say with confidence that helping customers and solving problems is the last thing these guys have on their minds. They are,however,extremely polite. I have never been not helped by people this polite before. I figured out why; it is a classic of what gets measured gets done. When you call the 800 number you can opt-in to a post contact survey where politeness, not resolution appears to be the most important aspect of your customer service experience. Here is an idea, make "was your issue resolved" the only measure that matters and you may see quite a change. In the mean time I will tell all my friends AT&T wireless is the nicest, least helpful company in the world.
When I first opened my contract with Cingular the retailer sold me a phone with "shady" written all over it. The box said "North Africa" as it's origin, the phone had European software and I was getting text messages every time I deleted an email. I returned the phone to Cingular, they shipped me back a used unit with a broken screen. I returned the phone and got another one with a problem. At the end of the day, they replaced the phone with a new one and a full set of accessories. I was less than thrilled with the initial bumps of the whole experience and wouldn't have kept Cingular had I not JUST signed a two year contract. Then, about a month ago I had a problem with my Cingular (now AT&T) bill. I called customer service and got THE BEST support of my life. I never write thank you letters, but I did after this experience. The operator was polite, knowledgeable and did her job in a timely manner without putting me on hold (which is a problem with most customer support). We resolved the billing issue, they issued a refund and gained a dedicated enthusiastic customer. I'm still a bit split over how I feel about the customer service as a whole, but this certainly served to undo much of the damage done by their inept warranty dept.
A few years back I had some phone issues and was quite frustrated. I wish I could give a ton of detail but I honestly don't remember much. What I do remember is....in all of my frustration the customer service guy (who was having computer problems when I called, nothing like making me even more frustrated) was able to some how calm me down, chat with me, and it was the best conversation of my day. Like I actually told my friends about it...haha! By the end of the conversation (computer finally working)I felt as if saying goodbye would be hard. I even felt like saying "Keep in touch" but that's just creepy, so I didn't ;) It's funny how years later I remember this specific conversation and yet I have no clue if the problem was solved, I just know he made my day.
it seems to be quite a universal state of matters that telecom and wireless companies have bad customer service - it is true here in Sweden too. At least there is always a long wait until you get to speak to a "real" person who can actually handle your specific problem/request.
One telecom company that seems at least willing to focus on customer service is Voce (www.voce.com) with Personal Mobile Assistants, 24/7 live assistance from anywhere in the world. I like the "live" part of it!
Best regards, and thanks for a very interesting blog (and books too!).
I work for a cable company in Hamilton, Ontario. (Mountain Cablevision) Unlike "other" cable companies we do not have an automated voicemail, well we do but its just press 1 for customer service and press 2 for tech support.
The tech support line is usually always answered within a couple of seconds, our service level is always well above 95% (usually 97-99%). And everyone in our department knows their job well.
The customer service line is a bit busier, but only because we have launched digital telephony in the past 2 years and the w/o's take a bit of time to enter. However they still manage a good service level as well.
We have won comsumer choice awards for I don't even remember how many years in a row.
If you go to http://www.dslreports.com/comments/2134?1=1&p=1 and look at reviews for Mountain Cablevision (from our customers) you will see what I am talking about.
One of the reviews state:
"But the best thing that I like about Mountain Cable is the knowledgeable and friendly technical staff they have and the fact that you get to talk to a real person. No matter who you are they seem to be able to talk on your level. Computer illiterates can call and get talked through a problem just as easily as a computer savvy geek can. All of the technical people I have talked to have been very knowledgeable and friendly. There's a lot to be said for knowledgeable, friendly, human customer service personnel, especially in today’s age of automated answering systems that have you listening to 12 messages and having to make a choice between 6 different items for each message."
Yes, remarkable customer service DOES exist in the wireless world.
Shameless plug: Over here at kajeet, a pay-as-you-go MVNO for kids, we're putting top emphasis on exemplary customer care at all levels.
Do bad customer experiences happen in all companies? Of course. Do some companies tend to accept a higher level of bad experience than others? You bet. Not us, though. At kajeet, we're finding that (surprise, surprise!) great customer service means happy customers. But enough of the sales pitch stuff, here are three ACTUAL unsolicited customer comments:
"My phone is up and operating. The person's name was Susan (I think). She provided me with excellent customer service. She was very friendly. During the call to set up the port, the phone line went down. I was concerned that she did not have a number to call me back and that it may or may not become a problem with the port (since I would have to call back and speak to another person). Susan, called me on her personal cell phone to relieve my concerns and let me know that once the phones come back on line she would call me back to complete the port. She called 10 minutes later and completed the call. She also called me today to confirm that the port was successful. Kudos, to Susan. Please pass it on."
"I just wanted to let you know that last night I had to reboot my son’s phone because his balance went down to 11 cents ( totally my fault). Bob in customer service was the best one I have encountered. He called me at home last night to make sure everything was ok with Colin’s phone because I told him I was going on a trip. He was extremely helpful and so nice. He is a keeper."
"I took a Supervisor call for Jon [last name withheld] from a man named Craig, and he wanted to let me know what a great job Jon did. He said that he has noticed a decline in the quality of customer service in the past year, but he feels that kajeet is the exception. He said that he has been dealing with Jon for a few days and Jon followed through with everything he said he would do and he was really impressed."
Super-serve customers, because happy customers equals a stronger business.
What a concept!
I'm lucky and I have more then one positive story about my Customer Service with Cingular. The one experience that sticks out in my mind happened last summer. I was walking down the board walk in Delaware on my phone with a customer service rep while she was trying to take care of a voice mail issue I was having. My phone would show I had voice mail when I didn't, and wouldn't show voice mail when I did. Pretty frustrating for both of us, since I wanted it fixed, and none of her solutions were really fixing the problem. I do remember her calling me back on my buddy's cell phone so she could walk me through some of the changes and restarts needed for her solutions. This wasn't a short endeavor, I'm sure it was at least an hour, and it wasn't quiet. The boardwalk in July is anything but tranquil and serene, but she stayed optimistic and helpful. Eventually, after feeling like we were just running in circles, I thanked her for her time and help and ended the help session. But it sticks out in my mind because she was so helpful, so intent on solving my problem and not passing me off to multiple, multiple other people. It also goes to show that even though she couldn't fix my immediate problem, by treating me with the utmost of care and consideration it resolved to a positive experience.
That's my story, not remarkable to the extent that she drove me a new phone in during a blizzard because I needed to take a call from my kid in China or anything, but certainly remarkable to me.
Jackie, amazing how few good customer service stories there are, huh? I have a story from one of my blog readers, Scott Westerman, who is now the Area VP for Comcast Southwest. It is not a story about one incident but about a service mindset at his (former) cable company and about the importance of your employees. Enjoy!
Story: At one point, I had responsibility for a rural system that had been bypassed for the upgrades that would have kept it line line with the plethora of channels offered at the time by the satellite guys. Even though the competition offered more stuff at an arguably lower price, this little team seemed to have an iron lock on the market.
All you had to do was to visit the local system office to see why. About 80% of the customers paid their bill in person, just so that they could say hello to the women who worked behind the counter. Although we had a toll free phone number to a well equipped call center, the ladies routinely gave out the local office number and the customers had the technicians’ cell info taped to refrigerators with post-it notes. Our employees were scout masters, PTA officers and school board members. They weren’t afraid to wear their cable sweatshirts to the grocery store and would happily take a bill payment in the ice cream aisle. When there were questions, customers would say, “I have to call Bonnie at the cable company.” The relationship was personal.
When I asked one of our 20-year-plus front counter people why so few people went to satellite she put the secret into a single sentence:
It’s always harder to say goodbye to a friend than it is to say it to a company.
I have many bad examples, but I did recently have a good experience with Verizon Wireless customer support. You can read my experience at http://blog.nordquist.org/?p=1045
My story is about the Cable TV industry stepping all over the telecom industry to service me, the customer. Our T1 went down with all of our phones and data. After two days of screaming at the telco, I called the local cable TV supplier here in Westchester New York.
The salesman showed up literally in 2 hours. We ordered data service at 3 PM on Tuesday and we were up and running by 4 PM on Wednesday. It took the telco 2 more days to get the T1 back up and running.
That was amazing to me. If you want the full details I'll be happy to discuss it with you.
I stick with Working Assets, who rides on Sprint... but the customer relations are handled by Working Assets. They don't have the cheapest rates in the industry, but they're fair. Their 10% to nonprofits program wouldn't keep me if it weren't for the fact that they have consistently provided exceptional customer service.
Things took a dip when I eagerly signed up as soon as they began offering cell phone service. My cell phone died after 10 months, it turned out the phone was actually three years old, and the service agent's reply was something like, "How can you complain?? It was free!"
I couldn't stand it anymore, so I called to cancel service. The agent I spoke to brought the early cancellation fee to my attention, and I said, "Whatever. Fine." They asked why I was canceling, and by that time, I was so tired of the whole thing, I didn't have the energy to demand my rights, etc. I just said, "Service has been very disappointing. It's just not worth it to me anymore."
The call ended politely, and I received my cancellation notice shortly after. ALL FEES HAD BEEN WAIVED.
I quickly got to missing the Real Human Beings over at Working Assets, and returned to the fold within the year. Of course, with my renewed energy, I made sure to mention that smart-ass agent. :-)
My good wireless customer service story starts out bad. I recently upgraded my cell phone. When it arrived the phone didn't work - people could hear me but I couldn't hear them. We called customer service - waited 20 minutes before talking to a representative. The representative said to take our broken phone to one of the company's stores. We did - they said they couldn't help since we bought it at the companies website - we needed to call customer service again. We called customer service a second time and after being on hold a very long time we were told that if we waited 30 days our phone would be covered under warranty and could be sent in to be fixed or replaced. We were furious and asked for a manager.
Here is the good part - this manager was honest in stating that they had training problems and took full control of our situation. She herself did not know at first who to contact but made several calls on our behalf to resolve the issue. After finding a solution she called us back. This manager saved her company a customer - she was honest, empathetic, understanding and showed initiative. She thought beyond some written script. She took time out of her day to go the extra mile probably without receiving credit for it. She actually showed that it mattered to her whether or not we stayed with this company.
Seth Godin had an interesting experience recently with AT&T that I wrote about here...
I actually was incredibly surprised to have a great customer experience with Verizon about a week ago. The reason I say I was so surprised is I have never heard anything but bad things about Verizon customer service but I have to say I was nothing but impressed with this one.
I was down in Mankato MN for a convention and had unwittingly left my phone charger behind in Oshkosh WI. My phone was already on the verge of dying as I had been using at as a GPS device in the car also, having a Palm Treo nobody else seemed to have a charger that would fit it. The closest Verizon store was about 1.5 hours away so I had to call and make sure they had one. I got on the phone and could hear how busy the store was yet the representative was quick to go check in the back to see if they had any because they didn't have any out in the front of the store. He came back and said that all he could find was car chargers and I needed a wall charger. He said he would look again and call me back. Unfortunately immediately after we ended our call my phone died.
Hoping for the best I got in my car and drove up to the store. I got there about 15 minutes before they were supposed to close. When I mentioned what I was looking for to one of the store employees the other employee I had talked to on the phone immediately perked up and let someone else finish checking out the customer he was working with to help me. He had, indeed, went back and dug around to find a wall charger and called me back within about 10 minutes of our first call, I later found out when my phone was charged. Well he was ringing up the charger I was asking him questions about some of their newer phones as I was up for my new every two discount soon. He patiently answered each one of my questions. When asked if I had any other questions I responded that I could not access the internet on my phone either. This is where I was amazed at his dedication.
He first checked my plan to make sure everything was in place there. It was. Then he proceeded to call a technician and sit there and attempt to work it out and wait on her for a good while in which other customers kept coming into the store.
His dedication was amazing considering he was there a good 10-15 minutes past closing time just helping me not to mention some other customers that were still waiting around when I was done. All of this was done with complete patience and a cheery demeanor the whole way through.
Needless to say I was very impressed. I believe his name was Scott or something with an S although I can't remember (sorry) but it was the Store in Shakopee MN. I couldn't have been happier with the service I received and even if you don't use this example at least other people can read it and know.