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Why is "customer service" so bad?

Discussion in 'Northeastern US Wireless Forum' started by EdwardP, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. EdwardP

    EdwardP Bronze Senior Member
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    For the past two months, I have been trying out various prepaid services, as Cingular would not add a third phone to my postpaid account under the employee-group rate code that the other two phones are presently on. I've been given various excuses as to why they would not, everything from "you have to go to a corporate store for that" or "that rate plan is no longer offered".

    The only thing I have been able to determine, is that based on my experience so far, most of the customer service has been less than stellar.

    Cingular: Tried to speak to customer service tonight and I couldn't get anyone to say anything other than "uhhhh...". And I called FOUR times!

    TracFone: (The lone exception.) Although their customer service is outsourced, their phones and service (on Cingular in this area) work. Early TracFone problems were remedied. :)

    Verizon: Went through 3 phones in 5 weeks, including the refurbished phone they tried to pass off as a new phone. They initially would not honor the 60-day expiration period on a $15 refill card I bought at Wal Mart (Which I eventually learned should not have been available at Wal Mart in the first place!), but they eventually did - after I complained. :rant:

    T-Mobile: Would not honor exp. period on card purchased (store provided erroneous information on when the one-year offer expired) but provided 6 months instead.

    Enough of this... Why is most customer service bad?
     
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  2. KenS

    KenS Junior Member
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    Well, I'm not going to defend it (I think it should be better too), but consider this:

    Humans are expensive. One talking on the phone to a customer probably costs more than $20/hr by the time you factor in salary&benefits, overhead (office space, etc), and dead time (coffee breaks, training, etc).

    Margins on phone service are small, and gross income per customer is fairly low. Profit may be a few dollars per month each, or less. There isn't a lot of money to pay for activities that don't generate more revenue. And companies don't want to spend everthing they make on support, so it's not budgeted a whole lot of what little there is. This means they're usually understaffed and overworked. This leads to long waits on hold, or less qualified people and shorter waits. And companies try to avoid long hold times (someone trying to solve your problem, even if they don't, is presumed to make customers happier than listening to Muzak for an hour).

    Phone companies (like many others) hire people whom they can pay the minimum amount, train them very little, mange them like an old-time sweatshop, and give them standardized scripts for "typical" problems. If you fall outside the script, or just don't use the words the script's author expected, they often don't have the knowledge to understand your problem and respond.

    And they're not exactly motivated to care about your problem; they're motivated to keep their job by doing what they're told. Hence, no matter what the paper you're holding says, they're going to try to stick to what the script on their screen says they should do.

    Among other metrics, they're often judged by duration of call, so they're highly motivated to get you off the phone, not to solve your problem.

    Appealing to a supervisor (who has more discretion to solve abnormal problems) can be fruitfull in cases where you think you've fallen out of their range. But enough people know this that there seem to be minimum-wage "supervisors" at some companies, who aren't any more qualified than the people they supposedly supervise.

    Some companies are better than others, and some support people care despite the best efforts of their employers to make them into robots, but the wonder is not that service is so bad: it's that anyone gets helped at all.

    And yes, I'm a cynic, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. :cool:
     
  3. rich6880

    rich6880 Senior Member
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    Many of the cell providers use CS as a training ground. When someone new is hired for a position, their training consists of working in CS. It is a good plan, provider get CS personnel, and have a relatively cheap training program. I have trained many people, in my 30 years with govt and can tell you that training is a great way to learn.
     
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  4. nothere

    nothere New Member

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    customer service is so bad b/c we have customers who drive us nuts and our brains are fried time and time again....

    screw salary, hourly rates, etc.... is a mind sucking occupation


    plus, the turnover rate is high... so i have to deal with someone calling in for their 8th time, b/c the 7 reps before me didn't know what they were telling the customer...


    i hate calling customer service.... they drive me nuts... and i'm one of them!!!


    *sigh*.. don't you love life?
    :rant:
     
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  5. EdwardP

    EdwardP Bronze Senior Member
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    I'll add something onto the Cingular information:

    I simply asked a question about roaming. It required a yes or no answer. On that fourth call, the rep. asked me where I was calling from, I told her "Boston". She then asked "What city?".

    I replied "Forget it." and hit the END button.

    The fact remains: All of those are prepaid services. They already have/had my money, so I would expect far better customer service towards a prepaid customer, than what would be provided for someone whom the carrier would have to wait for to pay their bill.
     
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  6. Jrapp

    Jrapp Senior Member
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    I've got nothing but kudos for Verizon Wireless CS. They've always been unbelievably helpful to me. 3 phones in 5 weeks seems a bit odd.
     
  7. EdwardP

    EdwardP Bronze Senior Member
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    After 27 days, the first phone (Nokia 3589i) powercycled itself (turned itself off & back on again, without intervention). On the same day, the bottom third of the display blanked out. Brought it back, picked up the replacement in the afternoon, was given a refurbished 3589i. The first thing I checked was the Life Timer in the phone, it had registered almost 117 hours of calls.

    Customer Service (*611) indicated that because it was within the initial 30 day period, they should have provided a brand new phone. I brought the refurbished phone back, spoke to the store manager, she retrieved a brand new phone and programmed it right there. She also intended to find out who gave me the refurbished phone. Since then, they have run out of the 3589i and I understand a new Nokia model is going to take its place at some point.

    Three phones in such a short amount of time...

    I was in the same Wal Mart earlier tonight and they still had the $15 Verizon Pay As You Go refill cards on the rack, the same cards that Verizon said should not have been there in the first place.
     
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  8. Etorres777

    Etorres777 Life is good for now..
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    How about AT&T Wireless GoPhone?
     
  9. EdwardP

    EdwardP Bronze Senior Member
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    One Target store around here has the AT&T Nokia 2260 (TDMA), I like the styling of this particular phone especially the blue screen. Another store has the Nokia 3200 (also AT&T) camera phone. I thought about trying out AT&T, but with the Cingular merger coming up, it would probably have been easier by going direct to Cingular, which I did (bought a Nokia 3100 from them), rather than AT&T first then having to go through the changes when they merge into Cingular.

    One local service station with convenience store has a Cingular KIC prepaid package with the 2260 for $99.00. TDMA coverage is more widely available right now than GSM and read online that 1/2 of AT&T's customers are on TDMA. Unlike Cingular's stores, AT&T still offers TDMA service. I'm curious to see how both coverage maps will look after the merger. I've seen a GSM map at newcingular.com, but nothing on TDMA.
     
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  10. crood

    crood Senior Member
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    On the contrary, I've found CS decreases once they have your money. This goes towards any industry. Refusing to pay a bill due to crummy service is one of the few powers a consumer has. Have you ever dealt with a contractor after you've paid in full? Try getting them to come back to finish something.
     
  11. nothere

    nothere New Member

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    it doesn't matter when we received your bill, or prepaid or postpaid, past due, current, whatever.... it just depends on the person calling, or the person you are speaking to....


    we don't look at any of the account information, then say, "he's a prepaid customer, i'll act stupid..."

    :)
     
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  12. twopiece

    twopiece D'oh!!
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    Being in customer service is tough. That was my first job after college working at a dot.com. I think I was fortunate that the company was small because they were very attentive to their subscribers. 7 reps in total working 24 hours.

    We were basically taught if a customer was pi$$ed, credit them, give them a free month of access, or anything else to keep their account. In the year and a half I was there, only about 5 customers closed their account and this sort of thing goes through the company pretty quickly.

    CS reps are on the front lines and there's no reward for a job well done except for maybe a pat on the back so I could see why people get so frustrated and us yelling at them increases the turnover rate.
     
  13. SpaceGhost

    SpaceGhost New Member

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    ha! maybe your reps don't! Its an unwritten rule ... prepaid are thought of as the poor/trashy class who can not maintain a post paid account. Most prepaid are pay as you go, but i've dealt with prepaid monthly plans mostly ... and there is little positive I can say about this customers.

    To get good customer services, present yourself as a good customer. If you get a rotten apple, suck it up, call in till you get someone who will get it done right. If everyone is a rotten apple, then its safe to say that you're the true rotten apple.
     
  14. aboz1

    aboz1 New Member

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    I used to work in customer service, everyday I would get yelled at for something that I had no control over of. When I asked if the costomer wanted help they refused. So while the company policies hurt csr's from providing the proper service, the customer's attitude didn't help either. It's a brutal job with a lot of turnover.
     
  15. jones

    jones Silver Senior Member
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    CS is bad because they don't know what they're doing.
    Not to mention the Job itself is annoying.
     
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  16. EdwardP

    EdwardP Bronze Senior Member
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    Out of all of the prepaid services I've tried since the end of July, I'm putting TracFone on top. Early problems were taken care of. When I have called customer service more recently, I have found that it has improved quite a bit. :thumb:

    And the TracFones work as advertised. :)

    Some may disagree with me on these two - but I have to put T-Mobile and Verizon at the bottom. T-Mobile because of the small network footprint (no roaming on prepaid) and Verizon because (1) I went through three phones in a five-week period and (2) they had $15 cards for sale at Wal Mart that should not have been there and they only honored the 60-day expiration printed on the back of it after I complained LOUDLY about it.

    For the phones that will eventually become unused once their service expires, I plan to donate them to a local non-profit organization.
     
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  17. proud2bamerican8

    proud2bamerican8 Junior Member
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    We could have this same discussion in the travel & entertainment industry (hotels,restaurants, rental agencies,airlines) , the traditional retail industry (department stores, gas stations, grocery stores, hardware stores) , or just about any other industry.

    No company has the corner on good or bad service. Most companies have SOME good, hard working, informed, customer focused employees. And most companies have hired their share of duds. Sullen attitudes, "don't ask me a question I was on my way to the break room before all the donuts are gone" putoffs, and just plain rudeness and bad manners are easy to find wherever you do business. Dealing with people doesn't change because they make a small or a large salary. Human nature remains the same.

    Customers are really in the drivers seat. What do you do besides hang up and get mad? Sounding off in a forum? How about BEFORE you hang up, you be sure to talk to the offending party's supervisor (if they will put them on the phone) and follow up with a letter detailing the conversation. Bad behavior goes on because it is rewarded with silence.

    This is tough to do, because we don't want to walk over to the manager's booth at the hardware store,point our finger and say, "your clerk over there in checkout #3 is very rude and I don't like being spoken to the way he spoke to me." Most of us have found that engaging in a verbal assault on the problem employee alone will accomplish little or nothing (or worse, he may retaliate by giving you worse than what you otherwise would have gotten.) We are much more likely to walk out and say nothing.

    Expect more and you will get it. But you must continually ask for and demand good service or it will not happen.
     
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  18. Remag1234

    Remag1234 New Member

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    Much of what was said about CS is true. Everyone should remember that too many people who call CS are out and out RUDE & STUPID. When calling CS you should be polite no matter how angry you may be. [You should be polite ALL time]. True that many CS reps are not very knowledgeable but neither is the customer calling, if he were he wouldn't be calling for help. So just be patient and either call again or ask for a supervisor...........

    You catch more fly's with honey than vinegar...........
     
  19. proud2bamerican8

    proud2bamerican8 Junior Member
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    If the last paragraph had been the first, then the first would not have lasted. :cool:
     
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