I Wanted To Fire My Phone Company (Previously)

A month ago, I had a phone line installed in my house.  There were no existing phone jacks in my home, and because of where I wanted the jack installed, the technician had to run the line down the side of my house.  It wasn’t the most appealing thing to look at on my house, but it did its job. 

Fast forward to early last week.  I came home from work to the neighbor standing in my front lawn, who appeared to be finishing a walk with his dog. 

“My dog managed to rip the phone line out of your wall.  He was sniffing around the side of your house and tugged on the cable.  Sorry…”

At this point, you would think a simple call out to the phone company would fix my issue, but it was actually where my troubles would start.  I scheduled a repair technician to come out two days later.  It was an all-day appointment, but I figured that would be ok since I planned on being around until 4:50 PM.  However, by the time I had to leave that day, the repairman showed up at 4:50 PM.  I told him I had to leave so I’d reschedule.

A new appointment was made for this last Tuesday.  Again, it was an all-day appointment, but I had informed them that the work needed to be done by 4:50 PM as I had another commitment.  They added it to their notes and told me someone would be out to finish the work when I needed it done.

Come Tuesday at 4:10 PM, I still hadn’t seen a repairman.  I called the phone company who informed me that there were no technicians available to come out.  They then told me that they would schedule someone to come out between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM that evening.  Sure enough, no one showed up.  I called the phone company again, this time as an irate, soon-to-be ex-customer.   They then told me someone would come out on Wednesday between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM.

I was at work on Wednesday, planning on leaving early to be there for the technician.  I received a call at 1:30 PM from the technician informing me they’d be there in 10 minutes…which was when I would not be at my house.  I negotiated for the technician to show up later in the day when I would be home.

At this point, I was steaming since the phone company’s customer service gave me wrong information multiple times.  I was ready to “fire” them in order to switch to another service provider.

The technician showed up 5 minutes after I got home.  He looked at the line and asked if I still wanted the line in the same spot.  I told him that I wanted to move it, and that I was willing to go into the crawl space of my own house to route it that way, instead.  Without hesitating, the technician asked me to show him the crawl space access.  He then started his work, going into the crawl space himself, and completing the work in a timely fashion.

Some of you may not think this is anything special.  In fact, the older generations of people may say that is what he should have done in the first place.  However, in my experience, service people from the phone company or cable company aren’t willing to go into crawl spaces anymore.  I was shocked that I found someone who was willing to do it without me asking/demanding/begging, etc…

We live in the current times surrounded by bad customer service.  Too many people who service others have taken a somewhat lackadaisical approach to customer satisfaction.  The goal of customer service has changed into simply completing the job, without thinking about how the customer actually feels throughout the process. It’s precisely those feelings that have a direct impact on their company’s bottom line. 

Those feelings can help create a base of customers loyal to your brand, or create a group of defectors that wind up with your competitors. 

Think about this in your interactions with your customers.  Even if someone says that they’re “fine,” “satisfied,” or “don’t need assistance,” listen for the tone in their voice.  Empathy will help you hone in on any possible issues they may have.  Better yet, if you know they’ve had some issues or rough patches in their dealings with you company, think about what you could to do to “wow” them.  Are you resetting their expectations, or just going with the motions?

Because the phone company’s technician went above-and-beyond my expectations, he was the ONLY reason the phone company still has me as a customer.

What about you?  Do you have any stories of individuals who altered your perceptions of a company who serviced you in one way or another?  How did they go above-and-beyond your expectations?  Leave your comments!

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  • Comments (3)
    • Gayle James
    • March 4th, 2011

    Looks like you got suckered in to use either ATT.net or Cox.net. Their service is much to be desired. Especially, when you call ATT you will get the royal run around; which you did.
    Sory, to hear you had so much aggravation. Thee is not much you can really do expect write to the FCC about your service provider. Did you know that there is a class action suit against ATT for slower internet service? It was put into place aoub two months ago. I am part of that suit, and may never see a dime; however it is out there.
    You may wish to find another carrier, becuase it never gets better. I wrote about ATT.net long ago on http://www.yelp.com. At least others knwo about this as a really bad review. Unfortunately, we are at the mercy of these monolopy companies.

  1. You make an excellent point in your article regarding the power the point of contact employee has on the overall success of an organization.

    Exceptional strategic planning and/or market research still need the support of the people carrying the organization to its end goal.

    As the old adage goes, “culture eats process for breakfast.”

    Customers really are pretty forgiving and accepting. Another important point you bring up is the value of how the customer “feels” and how much of an impact the point of contact employee has on this! It took several employee contacts to convince you you were done with the company; and only one exceptional one to convince you to stay. This is a valuable lesson for organizational leaders!

    The questions becomes…is this a hiring issue, a training issue, a cultural issue; or all of the above? 🙂

    Coach Cora
    CCL Consulting

  2. coracoaching :

    The questions becomes…is this a hiring issue, a training issue, a cultural issue; or all of the above? :)

    Coach Cora
    CCL Consulting

    Excellent questions/comments, Cora! I think it’s all of the above, plus (at least, in this instance) it was the systems in place at the phone company that tied the hands of customer service.

    I was informed that their dispatch department, who actually schedules the technicians, is located in Virginia. I was also informed by multiple customer service reps and two supervisors that they did not have direct contact with dispatch. They could only put a ticket into an automated system which the dispatch would then grab.

    I think this can be an issue for a lot of organizations, as well, when it comes to customer service. Are systems and processes a roadblock to good customer service, or are they flexible enough to escalate issues when a customer is not happy?

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