Verizon Wireless Customer Service Let Me Down

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).

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

7 Responses to Verizon Wireless Customer Service Let Me Down

  1. Dana Benson says:

    This article reminded me of a similar situation I encountered with Alltel. It’s very frustrating when no one really seems to be empowered to help a customer…and when they don’t care about the resolution, it’s even worse.
    Looking at these cases helps remind me that we MUST think from the customer’s point of view…show some empathy and work to resolve issues for them quickly and satisfactorily. I often remind myself and other employees to look at the situation from their point of view…what if YOU were the customer who was receiving that type of response or service? We should treat our customers with the respect and response that we expect to receive as customers ourselves.

  2. jim pfautz says:

    I’ve been on the phone with Verizon Wireless for almost two hours now…and I’m TRYING to give THEM money!

    Massively confused, disconnected with no interaction between wireless and cable and internet services!

    Worst customer experience of my life! Absolute JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Kandace says:

    I just had a problem with my new phone I bought from verizon which was a blackberry 8330. It wouldn’t let me on the internet and said I didn’t have service books or something. I called customer service and they were great. The person helping me was named and he worked me all the way through it. I had to validate my emails and even though I am not the fastest person in the world he made sure everything worked and even had me go to various websites to ensure that my internet was working for good. Then he gave me a link so I can update my own service books and fix the problem myself and don’t have to worry about calling and having trouble. It was incredible.
    They replaced the old Verizon store where I live and built a new one farther away. I was annoyed at first but the experience was great. When you go in you log in on the computer and they assign you a person just to help you. He walked around with me while I changed my mind 800 times and told me all the features and never even got annoyed. It was the Verizon at Concord Mills Blvd. in Concord NC. They were really great though and I;m sorry you had a bad experience, but even though I have had a not so great one in the past, they seemed to be a lot more helpful and thorough now.
    good luck. 🙂

  4. Robin says:

    I had a very exasperating experience with Verizon Wireless that after I finish posting this I plan to report to my state.
    I changed my wireless service from ATT (poor reception at my home) to Verizon Wireless on Nov 7, 2008. The service turned out to be even worse than ATT. I travel for work, so it was Dec 6 before I could fully address the situation. I signed up with US Cellular, who actually has a tower in my neighborhood. I went over to the Verizon Wireless store, turned in my equipment and because it was under the thirty day limit, received a credit on my contract. Of course, they couldn’t possibly issue the credit on my debit card, it comes from a different account, yada yada yada. It would take 10 days. However, I learn to my dismay that the credit was mis-handled.

    I receive a bill, which I ignore, because it doesn’t reflect the credit. I figure it’s software program timing and go on my merry way. I was gone 18 days in January and when I arrived home, I had a new bill plus a bill from a collection agency. So, I gather everything up and head into the store. A very helpful young man helped me navigate the “customer service” tree, but there was no satisfaction to be gained with talking with “customer service”. Finally, the supervisor said she’s issued a credit that I should see in three to four days. I leave the store, but find out that is due back on Friday at 11. Last Friday, I walk back into the store and have check my account. Lo and behold, no credit. Credit was denied. He calls “customer service” and we speak with a third person. I end up paying $76.00 for 2 weeks usage and a charge for getting on their network. It was the only way they would credit the $171.10 and another $20.00 or so for the two weeks I didn’t use and zero out the account. This morning I called Verizon and the credit had taken place. I called the collection agency and they could see the credit.

    I don’t know why it came to this.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I had Verizon Wireless, and they put me through hell. My connection would ALWAYS disconnect, and the unfriendly customer service reps would be absolutely no help. I would be on the phone with them for 4 hours at a time trying to solve one simple little issue, whether it was technical or billing. They transfer you to other reps, who transfer you to other reps, etc. etc. etc. I hated their service, and now I switched to Comcast and T-Mobile @ Home, who have the best customer service I have encountered. Stay away from Verizon!

  6. Deborah Berry says:

    We have verizon wireless. We have the env2.The phone has had to be replaced 3 times already. They also switched serial numbers on us when we went into the store without our knowledge. I could not get any help whatsover. The customer service rep (NAME EDITED OUT) was not a very friendly person. Matter of fact, he was getting rude and kept disputing Neither were the reps in the store. VERIZON sucks. Once the contract is done, we definitely will not renew!

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