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  • 07.21.06

My Date with Verizon

A special guest blogger today: My wife Jackie Dyer, who’s been vainly waiting at home for, yes, a telephone repair. Classic: A phone company that more than lives up to its own stereotype. In three days, Jackie has become quite the authority on customer non-service. As a prelude to our blockbuster, third annual Customer First Awards package, coming in our September issue, I thought I’d give Jackie the mike: “Fast Company has written about companies with good customer service. Here’s the flip side…

A special guest blogger today: My wife Jackie Dyer, who’s been vainly waiting at home for, yes, a telephone repair. Classic: A phone company that more than lives up to its own stereotype. In three days, Jackie has become quite the authority on customer non-service. As a prelude to our blockbuster, third annual Customer First Awards package, coming in our September issue, I thought I’d give Jackie the mike:

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“Fast Company has written about companies with good customer service. Here’s the flip side…

Verizon. Near monopoly, non-discretionary product, huge switching costs for consumers (getting DSL to work the first time was a nightmare). Not a company that needs to be too worried about customer satisfaction – and believe me, they aren’t.

“Since last week, our phone has been experiencing static to the point of unintelligibility. I was given an appointment with a repair technician, for which I needed to be at home from 12 – 5 pm. No way to tighten that time frame – I asked. Also no way to have a dispatcher give me any updates. 4:55 pm, I call and am told that they will not be there tonight. They will come tomorrow, 12 – 4 pm. No way to tighten that time frame. No way to give me special consideration since they’d blown it once. Next day, I cool my heels at home, stewing. Four o’clock, then five – no repairman.

“This morning, I call once more. They will be there very soon, most likely within an hour. I am now Highest Priority. It’s noon, and I’m still waiting. And believe me, I’ve thought about my “customer experience.” Here are some tips I’d like to offer Verizon:

“One, don’t lie. Just because I’m not likely to reach you personally next time I call, don’t tell me they will be there at a precise time just to get me off the phone. Don’t tell me they are on the job already. And don’t give me some hackneyed excuse. Yeah, a lot of outages due to the storms, so you’re really busy. Didn’t you already know that when you told me to wait for five hours? I might not be happy, but I’d be a whole lot more satisfied if I had lousy phone service these days but you’d not wasted half my week to boot.

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“Two, update your system. We all know you don’t know exactly how long each case will take. But surely at some point in the afternoon, if you’re running late, you know you won’t be reaching everyone. Show some respect and let people know. Have your technicians use a cell phone to contact the Repair reps, so they have decent info. Use your own email system, for crying out loud. It would have taken a lot less of your time that dealing with my many calls.

“Three, skip those training sessions where you tutor your reps what to say. I don’t care if they feel my pain (okay, they don”t actually say that, but they do “reach out”, “apologize”, and “know that I am right”.) Just give me decent information in a timely manner. It’s nice that your reps stay polite but maddening that they can’t really do anything to improve the situation.

“I thought it quite telling when I mentioned to a Repair rep that their customer service was, well, less than acceptable. She replied: “Ma’am, you didn’t call Customer Service – this is Repair.” Guess that about sums up how they think about their jobs.”