Archive for category electronics

Sprint: How to Terminate Your Service

I know, things are not easy when it comes to terminating services. I’ve had my share of troubles in the past, and here’s one successful story that I’d like to share with you all.

I’ve been a member at Sprint for over 8 years, beginning in 2000. Last year, in order to get my hands on one of those great looking iPhones offered via AT&T, I decided it was time to leave Sprint. And all I needed to do was simply go online, and click to terminate my service.

Nope.

Somehow, the online system showed that I have some kind of contract. Since I bought my last cell phone way over 2 years ago, there was no contract. But the system showed that it did, so I called customer service. The man who answered, I cannot even recall his name, told me that I have another year left in my contract. I asked him I never did such a thing, and he said: “yes you did.” I kept telling him I never did, and he told me: “you made a change to your plan while you were in your contract, and doing so automatically extends your contract.” Now, as a customer, I have no clue what I did over the past couple of years regarding changing my phone plans. I have the bills set up automatically, so I don’t really care as to what plans I changed and when.

Well, after a few talks, I asked whom I can reach who can solve this better, and the customer service guy told me to call the corporate office on the website. I asked if he can direct me to them, and he said that it’s on the website. Well, for heaven’s sake, I couldn’t find it as easily as he said! Well, somehow, I ended up talking to an Account Manager of some sort. He would probably be the salesperson who has a little more authority then the customer service people. Well, I told him about the situation, and this man would tell me the same thing over again, but with a little more authority and condescending manner (as if, I’m a child who’s asking for more chocolates): “well, you should have known that changing the plan extends your contract. ” So I answered, “well, I didn’t know. And since I didn’t know, and since no customer service rep. ever told me about the extension, what can I do?” And he said, “That’s something everyone knows. Even my little brother, my nephew, and all my friends know about that.” How nice, how courteous, how professional – from a man who’s known to be an Account Manger.

So after some embarrassing discussion over the phone, I decided this is something I must get over quickly. I did my little research over the web (thank you, web!), and saw the Sprint had recently hired a Chief Service Officer. Now, I didn’t even know such an executive position existed, but it seemed like a really nice push. So with more research, I found out the CSO’s e-mail address, and sent him an e-mail about my situation and what I had to go through. Immediately, he responded saying that he will have his management team call me. Soon, a very nice lady called me saying she’s calling from the executive office, and that she will remedy the situation. After she went through my records, she said that although the records show that I changed my plan, I never did. Something was wrong, and she couldn’t believe that the customer service didn’t even look into it carefully. So she apologized, and everything was finally resolved.

Now, I could have asked for a reward for making me spend so many hours researching and talking over to customer service, but  was just too tired to even ask.

Well, for one thing, at least the upper management care. They hired a new position – Chief Service Officer – because they know how important service is in their line of business. And that’s why they acted immediately upon my contact – which I was even surprised at the fact that they read my e-mail. So they’re going in the right direction. But it’s a matter of how and when their vision to change the customer experience into a good one will take place among the hundreds of customer service reps (including account managers) who handle the millions of customers on a daily basis.

Perhaps referring to my Daily Insight post on “customer service” would give them a better idea as to the problems they face.

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Verizon: Employees are more important than customers

I remember just a couple months back, when my girlfriend had to stop her Verizon cell phone service.

For some complicated reasons, she could not do it over the phone (let alone the Internet), and she had to visit one of those Verizon retail stores.

I’ve never really been into one – because I’ve never felt any reason to walk into a different carrier’s store. But wow, everytime I passed by, I always saw a lot of people in there – and even during my trip with my girfriend, there were about 9 customers wondering about the space. The fascinating thing, was, however, that only 1 customer was being helped at the time – the rest, were waiting through some electronic waiting system that a nice employee kindly entered. As I waited, I couldn’t help but realize so many employees who were coming in and out of their backdoors – and heaven knows what goes on back there, but with my visual count, I counted 12 employees in total. Of the 12, only 1 employee was helping 1 other customer, and the remaining 11 employees did not care much about the other 8 customers who were waiting. They all seemed to do something – I don’t know, at least, none of them sat down looking like an owl – but what I know is that they weren’t really into anything – I mean, I’m sure it was something they could do later, when they’ve served all customers.

Perhaps Verizon puts their employees before customers – that’s good, as long as customers don’t know about it. And maybe perhaps the many customers I’ve seen strolling around everytime I passed on of these stores were in fact a count of the numerous emloyees working there plus the small amount of customers who were waiting to no longer be ignored. All I could think was: Verizon must be pretty well off to have more employees than customers!

So while Verizon is putting aside millions of marketing dollars to promote ad campaigns to compete against other telecom providers, it needs to go back to the basics: better customer service. That doesn’t only include Verizon stores, but even customer call centers, or anything else that represents Verizon. As long as it’s not about a totally remarkable new product (or plan), I believe that a focus on customer service training is perhaps the most important thing to focus and dedicate on for brand endurance and achieving higher loyalty. Remember, as far as cell phone service is considered, loyalty probably generates more new customers than anything. It’s all about reputation for quality service in this business.