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05 June 2010

Sprint. Customer Service. Lessons Learned.

I wasn't going to write this post at first because I knew the negativity, frustration and anger would come shining through.

But I think I'm finally over it, and capable of learning from it.

I'm part of a team that oversees an eCommerce site that provides customer service during the week. So I've been trying to apply some of the things I learned in this recent episode toward making our customer service for that much better.

My Scenario
As a Premier Level Sprint customer I'm allowed to upgrade my phone yearly with no penalties. However, due to my wife being listed as head (accidentally based on a Sprint error) neither of us were allowed to upgrade this year. This was corrected, but due to the error I wouldn't be able to get my upgrade for close to two weeks after the phone (HTC Evo 4G) came out. Since it was a Sprint error (and because it would kill me to wait an extra two weeks to get my phone) I began the process of having the "one billing cycle" problem corrected.

After numerous calls (some lasting close to an hour), multiple trips in to the local Sprint store and promises that turned out to NOT be true - I still don't have the phone.

Now I know some of you are saying, "Dude, chill out! It's just a phone and it's only one day past it coming out. Aren't you making a mountain out of a mole hill?"

To that I would agree - not that big of a deal. But it's the time and energy put into it (all the while being told it would be a simple process) that has me worked up.

Lessons Learned
So, after dealing with the massive and slow moving engine that Sprint is; I think I've learned the following things about customer service:
  • Don't die by the process: I was originally told it would take a full billing cycle for the changes to be made - because this was the process in the "system." However, with it being a Sprint mistake - there should be an immediate fix that can happen outside that system. A supervisor or department head should have the power to go into a customers account and change whatever they want to change in order to fix problems that arise. It appears to be possible - but the journey to find this person and get them to make the change is much more difficult than it should be.
  • Don't complicate the calling center: A calling center needs to work together as a team. Don't have multiple departments in multiple locations - each not understanding what the other does. I told my story at least 6 times throughout this process.
  • Hire intelligent employees and train them well: Your front line employees need to be awesome trouble-shooters. In my case, the minute they understood the problem they should have been able to transfer the call to the department and person capable of clicking one button to fix the problem. In my case I had numerous front-line employees tell me nothing could be done - only to find out later that things could be done if you had the right person in the right department.
  • Maintain a smooth-running business plan: A business needs a well designed business model with strict guidelines as to how their product, retail stores and corporate call centers network and interact. In this case the call center told me I had to go to the retail store to have the over-ride done on my account. In the store they said they didn't have the ability to do over-rides and that I would have to go through the corporate call center. All the while leaving me feeling lost and incapable of moving forward. Make sure you have things like this planned for and that there is a simple and documented process so that things like this can be quickly fixed.
I feel like I could add a few more - but they deal with things like being nice, assuming the best in your customers and stuff like that so I better leave them alone :)

Hopefully these observations will keep customer service at running smoothly as well as your efforts in providing support to your customers.

I'll let you know if I ever get to upgrade my phone!