As my brother Jimmy would say – you can’t make this S*&^ up.
Verizon ‘customer service’ calls my office last Friday to perform a “complimentary account review”. Nice positioning, but would you ever pay for an account review? Right up there with ‘free estimates’ that contractors so prominently promote.
Anyway, back to the call. I accept the offer to see if they can save money on my business services. My first mistake. She confirms information including my title and when I provide the title of “Principal” – she quickly says, oh this is a school! Oh my. Who am I talking to and why did I pick up the phone? (reminder to hire and train properly the people you are having interact with your customers). She gets my approval to access my account and yep, technology fails and she can’t make that happen. Yikes. She wants to secure a time to call me again in the hopes that technology won’t fail them. I do not commit and hang up the phone – back to work. No lie, within 10 minutes, another Verizon person calls me with a higher ranking title and offers the same thing. Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. I explain I just had this call and they could not access my account. She has seniority apparently as she can access and proceeds into the FIOS spiel. This is where the service effort really went sideways. She starts the hard sell on FIOS. I explain I will not switch from Comcast cable and internet – too much of a hassle, likely to cause issues and the fact that when laying FIOS Verizon did damage to our walkway and never returned any phone calls to make the situation right. She reviews my account of what I am currently paying for and as she does I tell her that caller ID has never worked. She immediately states it must be my phone. I explain it is not. She offers to transfer me, hangs up on me and calls back with a number for me to call. I call the number and they can’t help me with Caller ID, but note the problem and tell me if there is no resolution in 24 hours it is up to me to get back to them to start over. Really? And they want to sell me more services?
To add insult to injury, Verizon called me two other times since last Friday with the exact same offer – complimentary account review. Even worse, it was the same person who called me back after I explained I had completed the process last week and was all set. Please note on my account no need to call me back. Groundhog Day. A real customer service nightmare on so many levels.
So what can we learn from this Verizon service disaster? Below are 5 tips to help you avoid driving your customers right off the edge in an attempt to ‘serve’ them:
- Process and systems – whether on paper, on a whiteboard, in an Excel spreadsheet or some CRM system, have a way to record customers you have already reached and stop calling them once they have asked you the first time.
- Hiring – anyone speaking to your customers needs to reflect your brand. Take the time to train them on basics including listening to the customer.
- Focus on value. Cable, internet and phone are necessary evils. None of the options are good and the risk of changing and disrupting things that are not broken is way low on my list of priorities for 2017. They are completely focused on saving money and because I am so fed up with them, the savings is not worth it to me to expand my business with them in any way. Now my goal is to get rid of the office phone account with them!
- Get the basics right. Return phone calls when a customer calls and is unhappy. Verizon damaged our property and never had the common courtesy to take ownership of their mistake. They are missing the bigger picture of taking care of their customers. Are you connecting the dots of what is important to your customers?
- Review your processes. Do you put the burden on the customer to solve their problem? Call back in 24 hours if this is not fixed and we will start over? How about they fix the problem and contact you to confirm it is fixed? It is not customer service if the burden stays on the customer!
Service is the act of helping or doing work for someone. Sounds simple but for some it is so hard. Great service can be a huge differentiator to attract and retain your customers.