Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Friday Musings

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 29, 2007

people.jpg Rockin’ on Friday

Heard on KPRI 102.1 San Diego this morning:

Marketers wanting to build customer loyalty can take a lesson from musician Chris Isaak.  He is one of the few rockers who will stay after a concert and sign anything fans want him to sign, and stay until everything is signed.  When asked by the KPRI morning DJ why he does this, Chris shared a story from when he was a kid.  One of his favorite musicians growing up was B.B. King.  Chris tried to go to one of B.B. King’s concerts and was stopped by the guard at the door, who told him it would cost $8 to get in.  Chris only had $2.  Feeling sorry for him, the guard let him in the concert.  Afterwards, he got to meet B.B. King, who asked Chris if he wanted an autograph (apparently, B.B. stayed after concerts to meet the needs of all his fans).  Chris commented to the DJ that the way to get in with people is to be nice to them.  Chris seems to be one of the nicest rock-and-rollers out on tour!

(For more Rockin’ on Friday, be sure to check out Lewis Green’s blog, where he focuses on rock ‘n roll every Friday!  Today’s post is about Lou Reed.  Rock on, Lewis!)

Support vs. Sales Treatment 

I have blogged before about how one is treated differently when one is a support customer versus a sales customer.  I had a perfect example of that last week with AT&T.  Our DSL modem completely stopped working (wouldn’t even power on) last Friday morning, and I called AT&T Technical Support to help me troubleshoot it. I was first connected with Ben (from India), who walked me through the usual script (“We are very sorry you are having problems with your DSL modem today, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you”).  After determining it was not a simple solution (we had cycled power, unplugged everything then plugged it all in again, etc)., I asked Ben how long these modems should last (I had it less than 2 years).  He did a “warm transfer” to Angel (also from India) who I was told could help me diagnose the modem.  Angel walked me through another script, very similar to the one Ben had walked me through (but this time, I was told to take the model into another room to plug it in!).  After a few more pointless exercises, and modem was deemed officially dead.  I again asked the question of how long this modem should last.  Angel told me “we have many customers who have been using your type of modem for several years, and they are still working fine).  This did not make me feel better; I actually felt worse, as this is the second AT&T DSL modem I have had in the past 4 years!  Angel offered to transfer me to a sales rep so they could help me figure out what my options are (translation: sell me a new modem).  She said the sales rep might be able to do something for me, since I had bad luck with the modems.

Enter Michelle from the “retention center” in Los Angeles, California.  I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to buy another modem from them, and I shared my story.  She said, “What would you like me to do?”  I asked her if there were any deals she could get for me.  15 minutes later, I had a new modem on its way, a $50 rebate for the modem (a promo going on), and a $50 VISA Gift Card coming to me.  I asked Michelle if the gift card was part of the promo.  She said, “No, that is from me to you.”  After chit-chatting a bit more while the transaction was being processed, the call ended pleasantly and with my needs being met.

How do I feel about my experience?  Well, the support transaction felt frustrating.  I had a dead modem, and they couldn’t fix it.  OK, that was not the frustrating part.  I was not really “talked to” with support.  I was grilled via a script, which felt very impersonal.  The only empathy was also completely scripted.  It didn’t feel genuine.  Of course, when a customer has an issue, they don’t necessarily want to sit around and chit-chat!  But something a bit more warm-feeling would be a good start.  The sales transaction felt like talking to a friend (no, really, it did!).  She was professional yet caring, and we talked about her vacation coming up, among other things, while we waited for processes to be performed by the computers.  It was very pleasant.

I am glad I stayed on with them and talked to Sales.  If I had hung up before that, I would have a bad taste in my mouth from the support experience.  Every touchpoint counts with our customers, especially those where there are a lot of emotions involved!  Customer service and support, often viewed only as a cost center, needs to be viewed as a key customer contact.

Next week, I will share the interview I had recently with Diane Berenbaum at Communico, author of the book How to Talk to Customers, and you will see more about how to make the customer service experience shine.

(Photo credit: solarseven)

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9 Responses to “Friday Musings”

  1. Becky,
    I had a similar go around with AT&T just the other day. About 3:30 in the afternoon our Internet connection just went out. This happens every few months to everyone, so I was not too worried about it. After 2 hours I called to see what was happening. I went through the India script routine as well. Unplug this, test that, and so on. When I told the “Technician” that I was certain our router was fine, all my computers could see each other, that the DSL light was indicating that it was OK, and that I was certain he was taking me on a useless journey – he hung up on me!

    I called back and got another offer to enter the run around. I asked for a supervisor. I was not allowed to talk to one until I had spoken to a representative from the modem/router company. When I finally got to a supervisor he looked to see if there was a reported outage in my area. What a shock, there was!

    When I asked why this information was not given to me in the first place, why I was hung-up on in the second, and made to waste time with the modem.router person in the third place, he had no answer. He offered to credit me for the lost time for that day – that is 25% of the one day rate. I pay $30/mo for DSL. Thats $1/day. 25% of one day would be $0.25 or a nice shiny American Quarter. Perhaps if he could guarantee that it would be the South Dakota quarter I need for my collection that might have had some meaning for me.

    Next time, I’m just going to have you call and I’ll split the compensation with you. As it is I am now looking to update all of my contacts with a new email address so that the email address I have had for 12 years can be dropped. (pacbell, sbcglobal, and now AT&T have just gone too far.)

    I’m glad you were assisted more graciously.

  2. Becky,

    Thanks for the Chris Isaak brief. I plan to feature him sometime this summer. And thanks for the shout out. Rock On!

  3. Roger, I am so sorry to hear about your poor experience! I guess mine was simpler, as it was a hardware problem. Funny, though – when I called AT&T, I got a recording talking about any potential outages before I was connected.

    I think one of the biggest issues with creating great experiences for customers is consistency. We can have all the right moves, but if they are not executed by EVERYONE, EVERY TIME, then we get frustrated customers – especially if that customer had a great experience last time.

    Don’t spend that quarter all in one place!! ;-)

  4. Hey Lewis, you are so welcome! Chris will be a great one to feature.

  5. That’s the case with almost everone and not just AT & T. The problem is that customer-care representatives are not trained beyond a certain point. They are not quite sure how to react when a customer asks them something which they are not aware of. Under these situations they do a polite “transfer”.Unfortunately, majority of domestic Indian BPO executives don’t have the luxury to transfer the call to executives. Generally, this results in tawful cusomer experience.The other day I was searching for a domain hosting company. I was referred to a company called E-Web Computers LLC http://e-webcomputers.com. The website claims they’ve a 24/7 support and they’ve listed four telephone numbers for US, Aust. and more. I called up US number only to hear they couldn’t help me with anything.The representative politely told me in a “unique english accent” ( appeared like a mexican) to send an e-mail to the website.

    I called up the other three numbers listed in their website, and on each occassion the same guy picked up the and gave the same response, please send them an e-mail. Pretty interesting experience,as this makes me wonder why the company has listed the four numbers on its website when its of no value at all.

  6. Just to add I had written something about my experience http://themarketingblog.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/i-am-sorry-for-the-inconvenience-sir/

  7. Jan said

    I just went and saw Chris Isaak at the winery here. The guy puts on a great show and he is super nice to the fans. I stood in line to get autographs on 2 CD covers, and the guy IS the nicest guy in show business. I thanked him for the way he treated the fans, and he smiled and said thanks. I will buy every album this guy puts out, even if I don’t like it that much. At least I know he is respectful and will sign it for me at his next show and I can support a person like that.

  8. Daksh at TheMarketingBlog: thanks for giving us your perspective from India! Interesting experience you had as well; I would guess the four numbers were supposed to be “local” to reduce expenses for the caller? Sounds like it needs some work.

  9. Jan, thanks for your comments on Chris Isaak! I have seen him at a winery event also (in Saratoga, CA). He was fun, funny, and very open to meeting his fans. Plus, he is an incredible musician! As you said, it is easy to support a person that is so open to his fans. I appreciate celebs who recognize where their fame comes from (ongoing loyalty from fans). Thanks again!

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