Don’t Follow Verizon’s Lead!

Posted on by in Attitude, Business, Communication, Customer Service, Growth, Relationships, Small Business

I’m constantly amazed how a large company can be so terrible at customer service and have their systems so poorly designed and run. I’ve written about this multiple times, but there are two key lessons any business ought to take from my latest encounter with the mess called Verizon.

First, before I share the two lessons, here’s what happened. I received my latest bill yesterday and now, for the fourth month in a row it’s wrong. Each time I call and talk with a representative. Each time they make the change on their end and tell me what the correct figure is. Each time I ask, “Are you sure this is the correct amount?” Each time, they say “Yes!” So, I pay the amount they tell me to and then when I receive my next bill, guess what? Exactly, there’s a “balance forwarded” amount equal to what I was told not to pay.

But to make matters worse, when I called this time, I went through their voice mail system (which is frustrating in an of itself). However, when I finally got to the response, “Your wait time is …”, I was told, “Your wait time is 15 minutes. If you’d like us to call you back in 15 minutes, please press 1”. When I heard that, I was pleasantly surprised. “Hey, this is a nice change!” So, I left my name and number (which was interesting given that they already had both), and went and did something else rather than wait with a phone next to my hear.

Around fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. However, instead of a “live” person, it was an automated attendant. It confirmed I was on the line and then told me I would get the next available customer service agent. Why the system was designed so that I wasn’t directly connected to an attendant makes no sense. But that wasn’t the frustrating part. The frustrating part was that I had to wait on hold an additional 15 minutes before a “live” attendant came on line. So much for the customer service idea of leaving a number so I didn’t have to wait on a phone line for an attendant. In fact, I would have felt better had I just remained on the line in the first place.

Now that you know the situation, what are the two lessons that you and I need to take away from this experience–lessons even Verizon doesn’t get?

1. Make it easy for frustrated people to contact you and get the answers they want ASAP. When a customer decides to call customer service, they’re usually already frustrated. So when you’re frustrated, how excited are you to have to go through 52 questions to “get to the right person”? Not very. When someone’s frustrated, they want to talk to a real person who can answer their questions and solve their problems immediately. The last thing they want to do is to go through 20 or 50 questions just to get to the person they wanted to talk with when they originally called.

So, as you look at your business, where do you make it hard for customers to deal with you? When do you make it hard for them to get answers or solve a problem?

2. When you make a promise to a customer or prospect, you better deliver on that expectation–or don’t make the claim in the first place. Why? Because promises raise expectations. If Verizon hadn’t offered the 15 minute return call so I didn’t have to wait on the phone, I wouldn’t have been as ticked off. But because they made the offer (a systems choice), they raised my expectations–which made the 15 minute wait after they called me back even worse. I wasn’t ticked the first time, but the second time I was.

So, as you look at your business, where do you make promises that you aren’t fully living out? When do you raise expectations that you aren’t following through (or consistently following through) all the time?

If you want to grow the kind of business customers want to use over and over again, then you’ll want to apply these two lessons on a consistent basis to your business.

To your accelerated success!

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2 Responses to “Don’t Follow Verizon’s Lead!”

  1. Russel Garrod 29 May 2010 at 12:16 pm #

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  2. Bruce Johnson 29 May 2010 at 12:19 pm #

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