Customer Service is Important

Double Trouble, Don Oldenburg, Washington Post:

Digging into the details, Stevenson, a mechanical engineer, did a double take at what looked to him like a double charge. Verizon was billing his sweetie for the local plan, for the new regional plan and also for a la carte services that are included in the regional plan. Sorry, wrong numbers!

He called Verizon to complain. “The customer service representative said that they knew they’ve been having an issue with their system double-billing,” Stevenson said. “When I asked if they were taking any steps to remedy this by notifying their customers . . . or refunding money, they simply said ‘no,’ that most people call when they notice that they’re being overcharged.”

What do I find most surprising about this? That the customer service representative actually said they were doing nothing. The idea that they would choose to do nothing is not that surprising to many, I would guess.

Mitchell said Verizon isn’t ignoring overcharged customers. “Our employee who spoke with the customer unfortunately misspoke and gave the customer erroneous information about our company policy on billing,” he said, explaining that Verizon reviews its billing system to try to make sure bills are accurate. “We have identified and corrected the error, and we identified and are properly adjusting the affected customers’ accounts.”

So, Verizon claims something else. Just a coincidence that the fix is not made before the person gets the interest of the Washington Post and the Post calls to find out what is going on I guess. My experience did not give me the impression they were focused much on what was important to me as a customers. The service I received seemed to be what I would expect from a company very focused on the idea that the objective of the company is to increase profits at the expense of everyone else. They do not seem to share Dr. Deming’s belief that the customer, workers, owners, suppliers… are all part of a system and the company exists to benefit all the stakeholders. As the President of Toyota explained:

as a member of society, we must fulfill our responsibilities to all stakeholders. We must provide to customers cleaner, safer, and more attractive products with excellent value. To shareholders, we must enhance share value through long-term and stable growth by increasing profits and paying appropriate dividends. With business partners, we must engage in fair business based on a spirit of mutual benefit.

To our employees, we must provide a workplace where they can work with pride based on mutual trust and responsibility between labor and management, and respect for people.

Verizon’s ads say:

There’s only one reason to choose a wireless company – It’s the Network. And only Verizon Wireless has America’s most reliable network.

Well, the network is important, but so is customer service. I think the sentiment they express informs us about their mentality. And I don’t trust their customer service. If I did, I would get their FIOS [the broken link was removed] service. But I just don’t trust them to serve me in the way I would trust: Google, Amazon, Toyota… If those companies were offering FIOS I would get it.

I even came close to getting it through Verizon, but using their web site and then talking to their service representatives was so painful, I was reminded what it was like dealing with them, in the past, and I thought better of entering into business with them again. It just isn’t worth risking being stuck dealing with poor customer service.

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12 Responses to Customer Service is Important

  1. Tim says:

    I am with you on this one as a consultant that works in the training of companies in customer service industries the Telco and IT based industries have the lion share of complaints. In part it is because of big buck dividends for CEO rewards and shareholder profitability. Mostly it’s just the lack of consideration for others. Most upper management is isolated by reports and IT programming that they wouldn’t know the real world if the bumped into it.

    Of course unless it happens to them and sometimes it does. Another issue is that in large corporations it is difficult and expensive to create company policies that would provide the level of customer service that customers would like and certainly should respect.

    My advice to them is you better start listening before the customer revolts and puts you out of business.

    Ask Dell what its like to loose 14% market share because of a blogging campaign by 2 unhappy customers.

    Small businesses need to sit up and listen well too. Good Customer policy development can make a difference in the short term and long term development of your business.

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  5. Mark Stevenson says:

    As I’m the person being quoted, I wanted to make sure the article wasn’t taken out of context. The problem I had with Verizon wasn’t with Verizon Wireless… which, at the time, was essentially a separate entity. Also, there were no other choices when it came to local phone service so the comment to switch companies is moot.

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