Without a doubt, most big companies have "customer service" down to a science. So much so that often times their customer service appears artificial and even robotic in nature. A big problem arises when "efficiency" takes over common sense and processes, scripts and automated systems run your customer service department. Smaller businesses like yours have the competitive advantage and opportunity to have better customer service by being more personal in your approach. Granted, you may not have the dollars to compete on price alone or to give steep discounts, but if you truly value your customers, you can demonstrate it not only in your quality services, but also in making sure customers are taken care of when/if the business fails to deliver as promised and/or you make a mistake.
The reason for this article is to share a recent experience I had with Verizon Wireless.
Unfortunately my main mobile phone broke and I needed to get it replaced. I have a USB Modem under my plan which I am no longer using, is currently suspended and is on a month-to-month contract. My phone is not due for an upgrade until next year, but my USB modem has an upgrade available now. Since Verizon Wireless gives you the option to transfer upgrades from phone to phone, I decided to use the upgrade I have available on my USB modem towards my phone. This would have worked out nicely since that is exactly what I needed, to upgrade my phone. However, I was concerned that my USB modem contract would be extended to 2 years. I got into a Chat session with Verizon Wireless sales rep while ordering online to confirm my suspicion. To quote the Verizon Wireless Sales Rep (see chat screenshot), "The contract isn't extended for both lines when you transfer an upgrade. The contract extension will be applied to your line only."
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Turns out the Verizon Wireless Sales were wrong and they did not honor their mistake after I placed my order. I communicated with several people afterwards (Blaine, Elizabeth, Dennis, Eric, Diane, Jamie) and my only option was to extend my USB Modem contract or cancel my order. I do understand the mistake, yet this is where real customer service kicks in and you take ownership of the error.
After about 10 years of being a loyal Verizon Wireless customer and advocate, I would have expected this issue to be resolved in my favor. Boy was I wrong. I am not sure if Verizon Wireless upper management would agree with the way this was handled and its outcome. This is an example of what I call artificial and robotic customer service. All I received was a series of canned responses and customer service without teeth.
Verizon Wireless Code of Conduct 2012: "Accountability - We take responsibility for our actions as individuals, as team members, and as an organization. We work together, support one another and never let the customer - or our coworkers - down." Really? Please don't let me down.
||About Fernando Sosa
Fernando Sosa is a technology consultant, project management professional, and software developer who helps small businesses and nonprofit organizations make the most of their information technology resources.