The telephone went out at my brother’s house the other day. This hasn’t been an unusual occurrence and is usually resolved by a call to the folks at Verizon, his telephone provider. One pole in his area seems to have an issue and service will just go out for no apparent reason. When his line failed the other day, I called Verizon to let them know. That’s when things took an interesting turn that is a great example of what businesses can’t do if they want to survive.
“It’s because you have copper wire” the customer service rep informed me. “You need to upgrade to fiber optic – have you heard of FiOS?” Yes I have, but that wasn’t solving the issue since repair couldn’t come anyway. Since no one is in the house most of the time, we’d have to call to schedule an appointment when someone was going to be there.
Fast forward a couple of days. I was going to be in the house so I called Verizon. Of course, the numbers listed on their website were not correct – I was instructed to call another number (why can’t a PHONE company switch you – strike one). When I got the rep on the phone and said I’d like to get a repair person to the house I was told the rep could “see your house is on old copper wire. We need to upgrade you to fiber optic cable.” I told him I was fully aware of FiOS and just wanted the telephone service I already had to be fixed. Not internet. Not TV. Land line telephone. After a few more minutes of him telling me all about the virtues of a service I didn’t want or need, he gave me the number for repair. I stopped him and asked if he could just switch me over? “”No, we’re a call center (which means he’s probably off shore) and I can’t do that.” In other words, I called the repair number and was sent to a sales center to sell me FiOS.
Land lines are an endangered species. It’s a once-ubiquitous business that’s declining rapidly. Rather than selling the service on the merits – clearer voice, much better reliability in an emergency such as a storm – and providing excellent customer service to those still paying for the service, Verizon seems interested only in pushing FiOS.
This is what no business that wants to be successful can do – ignore the voice of the customer. It’s not about what you’re selling – it’s about what I need when I interact with you. There is no chance you’re selling me additional services when you demonstrate that you won’t service the ones I have. Many businesses still put themselves above the consumer. We can see it in their messaging, paricularly in social media. It’s all about the brand, it’s all about the sale. Sorry, guys. Not anymore.
I fixed the telephone line myself – it turns out there was a short in the alarm box that connected to the telephone line. It took about 3 minutes to figure it out and to fix it. We’re in the process of selling the house and I want to be the one to call Verizon to turn off the service. I suspect if this is how they treat all their customers that I’m not alone in wanting to make that call.