I’ve spent a fair amount of time in this space complaining about shoddy customer service.
I’m continually surprised by how few companies emphasize the human touch in a time when technology is making commerce less human in many ways. However, in the last couple of days I’ve had a couple of really good customer service experiences and I thought that in the interest of balance I’d spend a post or two writing about them. I think there are some lessons to be learned from each.
The first good experience came from the folks at AT&T. I’ve been pretty vocal about them when they pushed the phone insurance scam and I had some issues with them selling me a Blackberry over the last couple of years. I recently took a business trip to Canada and upon landing in the Great White North I got a text telling me that I was on another network and would be incurring data roaming charges. I read it quickly and was under the impression that the charge would be about $30 if I used under 15Mb. Not a problem.
Imagine my surprise when I received my bill and the data roaming charges were close to $300, even though my data usage was under 15Mb. As it turns out, the text was more about an available international data plan to which I needed to subscribe than what was going on. My fault, I misunderstood (easy to do when you’re reading a text while rushing off a plane to make a connection). I immediately called AT&T and after a few minutes on hold I spoke to someone in international data (which is where I was routed for some reason). Getting to this human was not easy – from a business point of view I know why they bury the “human” option but it’s difficult to defend from a service point of view. This person transferred me to billing, where I spent a minute explaining the issue. Without me asking, the rep asked me to hold a minute, came back on and said I’d be credited with the full amount of the data charges and explained the international data plans to me (which I will sign up for). No hassle, no begging, no treating me like an idiot. What a breath of fresh air!
I’m hoping that the rep had access to see that I’d been a customer practically since cell phones were invented (like 1993?) and we have multiple phones. That should have made it an easier refund. If they didn’t know that, I give them even more credit for treating a customer like we all should: the reason we’re in business and someone who is given every benefit of the doubt even when they might be dead wrong.
It’s a good lesson for all of us who deal with customers (and who doesn’t!). Despite my occasional issues with them, AT&T will continue to be my service of choice.