I just had an interesting interaction with Verizon Wireless. After a long phone discussion with the firm’s customer service department, the rep told us that we needed to go into a store to show some documentation. When we got to the store, the agent didn’t understand why we were there.
After we explained the situation to him, he looked at our account and told us that he couldn’t do anything because our account was overdue. Well, we were shocked; we had paid our bill. After several minutes of trying to explain this to the rep, we finally got him to call the customer service center — and they confirmed that our bill was NOT overdue. The problem was that we had been issued a credit that did not show up on his system.
It seems like I should be transitioning into the happy ending of the story. But I’m not. Even though everyone now knew that our payments were completely up to date, the store and phone agents couldn’t help us; the system wouldn’t let them.
Here’s how I’d grade the experience using my CARES model:
- Communication: D
(clearly communicate the process and set expectations)
- Accountability: C-
(take responsibility for fixing the problem or getting an answer)
- Responsiveness: C-
(don’t make the customer wait for your communication or a solution)
- Empathy: C+
(acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer)
- Solution: D-
(at the end of the day, make sure to solve the issue or answer the question)
How can Verizon Wireless avoid these problems in the future?
- Empower employees. The total amount getting in our way was $26. Yet no-one at Verizon was able to do what was right and override the system.
- Synchronize systems. Don’t let systems show that someone is past due when they’re not. At a minimum, give in-store agents access to the same information as the phone reps.
- Use customer experience metrics. The Verizon Wireless store did not have any customer service reps, everyone was in sales. So our agent was not anxious to spend time on our problem, since it was taking time away from his selling. That’s why the employees need more of their incentives tied to customer experience measurements.
The bottom line: This situation is consistent with the 6 laws of customer experience, especially CxP Law #4 (unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers) and CxP Law #5 (employees do what is measured, incented, and celebrated).