Mobile Carrier Road Rage – a #sweetcx and #sourcx comparison

Sweet and Sour CX

This is the first publishing in of a new program we are launching at suitecx to highlight customer experiences at a more personal level. Many of us work with story telling as a tool in our practices and companies but rarely do we get to share the stories that happen to us! We are launching this as the first in hopefully long series of addressing customer experience highs and lows.

We have plenty of our own #sweetcx and #sourcx stories that we have collected over the years, but we also hope that you will contribute your own stories to add to the conversation.  Think of it as a bit of CX therapy!

Mobile Carrier Road Rage Map

Mobile Carrier road rage

Two competitors in the hotly contested wireless world treated a long-time customer very differently. All telecom companies have their flaws, and customers bump into them all too often. The difference between #sweetcx and #sourcx in my telecom ordeal was the way they made me feel. Important to them, and worth some extra time and care.

Every day we as customers have experiences with companies, sometimes without even realizing the number of brands that we encounter on a daily basis. Nowhere is that more true in this day and age than our interactions with phone and internet providers. Recently Tecmark in the UK surveyed 2,000 smartphone users and found the average person looks at their smartphone 1,500 times per week, or 221 times per day.

Given how ubiquitous smart phones and mobile devices have become in our lives, dealing with major carriers is most often a necessary evil.

Let`s start with my #sourcx experience with Sprint. For 10 years I have had an unlimited usage single-service air card (that`s just a laptop cell phone connection) in order to have a wireless hotspot no matter where my consulting work took me. During this time, my only interactions with the company were via the monthly bill. This may seem ideal for telecom customers, so I took an “if it ain`t broke, don`t fix it” attitude.

In September, suddenly I received a bill stating I had an overage of $250. Since it was supposed to be an unlimited usage plan and I had not received any notification of bumping against a limit I realized I had to wade into the Sprint Customer Service waters for the first time.

I started online, but I couldn`t get access to my account. I didn`t have a PIN, even though I had my account information. So I called the 800 number. My hold time was 30 minutes, through four levels of IVR, before I engaged with a representative. The first thing he did was ask for my PIN! I had no idea I had or needed a PIN, so I asked him what the procedure was to obtain one. Despite having all of my account information, my Social Security Number and my mother`s maiden name, I had no luck. Escalating to a supervisor only led to a lecture that the PIN is there for my protection, after all.

Beyond frustrated, I asked to cancel the service. Nope, not without your PIN. I was then instructed to drive to the local Sprint store to get a PIN with my ID. I couldn`t get to the store until the next day. Once there I finally got my PIN, but when I then asked if I could speak to customer service about my billing issue, I was informed that I could only do this by phone. I asked if I could cancel my service. Nope, I needed to call for that too.

I placed the call while I was in the store. Another 30 minutes of hold time passed before I got to a live person. I gave my hard fought and won PIN, and learned that they had switched my plan to one that was non-fixed, with no notice or warning about impending overages. I asked for a supervisor, only to wait another 30 minutes. When she finally came on, the supervisor said she could credit me $80, but my plan would not change back to the one I had originally. I asked to cancel my service, to which responded that I would forfeit my credit. Also I would have to cancel that day as opposed to the end of my billing period.

At the end of the billing period, I called again to cancel. 30 minutes of wait time, followed by 40 minutes of processing time while they approved my cancellation. During that 40 minutes, I was pestered repeatedly as to why I was canceling, and would not finalize the cancellation without an explanation.

Sprint forced me to interact with them via three separate channels, all the while making me feel like I was inconveniencing them. They changed the terms of our relationship without notifying me, then made me feel like the bad guy for having the nerve to protest.

Now, let`s contrast my Sprint experience with that of their direct competitor AT&T. I have been an AT&T customer for over 20 years, for such services as phone, wireless, U-verse TV, etc. While I can`t ringingly endorse AT&T for stellar customer service, it was essentially meeting my needs.

Just down the street from Sprint was an AT&T store. I decided to go in and see if I could replace my hot spot right away. While I was waiting for a rep to become available, I checked prices for T-Mobile and Verizon online. Armed with information, I was ready to do battle.

The AT&T rep was very knowledgeable. He set up my new hot spot on the spot. He then inquired about my other services and noticed my ancient BlackBerry. He helped me choose a new Samsung that many former BlackBerry users had switched to, and he also gave me a better plan that yielded over $100 per month in savings. He was obviously committed to ensuring that I remained a customer with AT&T, and he did everything in his power to get me the best package. I walked out not only with a new hot spot card but also with a new fully configured phone!

Not all was well yet for me in the land of telecom. After one day of using the hot spot I received an alert about an overage! Unbelievable. I called AT&T and got a real person after (only) an 8-minute wait. Validation of my account details was simple with just two identifying pieces of information required. It turned out that there was yet a better deal to be had given my high bandwidth demand — double my data for only $15 per month more. I was suspicious, but the offer turned out to be legit.

The best part of all was when, in closing, she said “thank you for being the best part of AT&T.” It seemed sincere, and after my experience with Sprint the contrast was profound.

Two competitors in the hotly contested wireless world treated a long-time customer very differently. All telecom companies have their flaws, and customers bump into them all too often. The difference between #sweetcx and #sourcx in my telecom ordeal was the way they made me feel. Important to them, and worth some extra time and care.

So, what are some of your recent sweet and sour experiences? Please share them with us and let`s keep this conversation going!

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