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Can I send you a survey about our service? August 18, 2010

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales.
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I hope my good friend Barry Moltz gets a chance to read this post. As the author of BAM! Busting a Myth  Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World, Barry will surely appreciate this story.

Today my satire is about AT&T this giant of a company that provides many of us with phone, TV and Internet gateway services.  I’m having some roofing/siding work done on my home and noted that the phone line coming in from the alley phone pole (I’m in an old Chicago neighborhood with above ground lines) is literally sagging on the roof and needs to be lifted six inches or so to get it safely up and off the rough roofing shingles.

Now, to me this is a pretty basic request, not unreasonable especially considering the BIG amount of money I give AT&T each month. Really, I’m a relatively easy to please affable type of guy.

It took  five, yes five phone calls largely to “robot” voice menus at different toll-free numbers and several well-meaning service representatives to finally get a lady who gets it willing  to stay on the line until they determined which department handles U-Verse line repairs. The funny part here it comes, I actually had to lie and say my service was being impacted or they could not send a technician out to raise the wire. So to review, AT&T is concerned about my satisfaction, appreciates my business and asks me upfront in the call if I’ll agree to take a survey designed to praise them (and I get it-help the rep out)-but I have to cajole someone to stop by and do a rudimentary service call avoiding a costly mishap probably in the dead of winter when I really need access to U-Verse service.

I told the lady who helped me that I was longing for the “old days” when you just dialed 611 and spoke to someone instantly, expressed your concern, hung up and went about making a living, managing your life.

In Barry’s book ( service myth #17 ) he talks about training staff to provide excellent customer service trumping any fancy automated service system. I agree totally lighten up on the surveying, overly apologetic jargon and empower the representatives to make decisions and get things done. Stop “monitoring the calls for quality purposes”, tear down the silos and let customers express a concern and move on, knowing the problem will be solved by an empowered employee that isn’t worried about the Sword of Damocles (satire for their employee review) hanging over their heads.

I’ve been to business school, get economies of scale, pricing/market share wars and service volume. The self-service world has actually become comical-maybe I’ll forward this to Larry David, this could be fodder for a great episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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