Sunday, August 31, 2008

customer service

Last week we had a customer who called with a problem. While working with the client we decided that the best way to solve the problem was to go on site. So we told the customer we would fly up to see him and should be there in a few hours. I filed a flight plan and one of our engineers and I went over to my plane and flew up to the Boston area to solve the customer's problem. Gaining new customers is hard, and at Zerowait we like to try to keep our customers happy. This customer is now convinced that we really do care about customer service.

Today I had an experience that shows me that not all companies care about their customers. AT&T is our cell phone provider and we have a corporate account, which means that the account executive wants the last 4 digits of an FEIN number not a Social security number to verify the account. But the customer service reps I spoke to kept asking for my phone number, name and social security number. I tried to explain that my social security number and our corporate FEIN number are not the same and I didn’t know the FEIN- but two different reps could not understand that. Finally I got a rep that would agree to let me speak to a supervisor. I explained the situation to Mike the supervisor and he laughed and agreed that good help is hard to find.

The situation reminds me of when I go up to the airline counter and they ask me if the bag has been in my possession since I packed it. Well the reality is that the bag has been in a shuttle bus and sometimes at a concierge desk and many other places. So when asked what are we to say? If I say that the bags have been in my possession that is not completely true. Should I tell them the truth that the shuttle bus driver put the bag in the back of the bus, and the concierge put it in a closet while I was out visiting clients after I left the hotel room but before I had to get the bus to the airport? In a completely interrelated world of commerce, business and our personal lives we are being forced to tell companies half truths to fulfill the needs of their databases, before we get the customer service we deserve. This is backwards. We should be able to create systems that verify who we are when calling with two pieces of information. AT&T had my name and phone number. Their DB keeps a FEIN number instead of a SSN; that is not my fault.

Customer service is a primary responsibility of every company - there is competition for every company’s service. When AT&T technicians call Zerowait for help with their filers should we ask them for their FEIN number? Will they know it?

No comments: