Mobile and Tablet Marketing

AT&T Disappointed Me This Weekend, But their Employees did NOT

AT&TOh AT&T. Sometime on Sunday during the day I lost my DSL. When I arrived home on Sunday night, I called their support line. Here’s where the fun starts. They have a voice activated system at AT&T. I can’t tell you how stupid it makes me feel to talk to a voice on the other side that is computer-generated with enthusiastic fluctuations in their voice. I’d rather press buttons, but that was not an option.

First, the system would ask if I needed help en Espanol. Though tempted to answer, ci, I didn’t. I wonder why they don’t simply ask what language you would like to get help in and have you say English or Espanol. It would take less time than going through all the instructions in both languages.

With each call, the system would then ask if I was calling from the number that I was calling about. Using Caller ID, they asked if it was the phone number. “Yes”, I replied to the system.

The hold advertisement spoke of a new long distance rate that may be of interest to me, so I said “Yes” to say I was interested… the system told me that it was outside of business hours and hung up on me. So I had to call back and start over AGAIN.

After confirming the phone number the computer voice next asked, “What are you calling about?” and I would say “DSL is not working”. “Alright”, the energetic computer would say like he was relieved he could translate my voice. Then I would be forwarded to a CSR… I’m guessing level 1.

The first question from the CSR? “What number are you calling about?”. I can’t believe I spent the last minute talking to a machine to confirm the number I’m talking about and the CSR asks me the same question. So I repeat the number and confirm that I’m the guy that owns the account that I’m calling about.

This brings me to a point… why do you care if I’m the guy that owns the account? What if I wasn’t the guy that owned the account and I lied? You wouldn’t know the difference so why ask? Sigh.

“What’s the problem?”… Again… the computer voice didn’t pass on any information to the CSR. Now I explain that my DSL Pro account is down and not working.

“What modem do you have?” Okay, AT&T, I bought the modem from you… why don’t you already know that? How nice it would have been to hear, “I see you have the SpeedStream DSL modem with 4 lights on the front, could you tell me which lights are on?”. No such luck.

It seems the problem must be elevated after we walk through unplugging my Router and doing some additional stuff. The CSR was nice enough and she even ‘hot transferred’ me to the next level, introducing me to the next technician over the phone. The next support tech was very friendly and thorough… we ran the DSL Modem to another jack to see what the results were to see what the problem might be. He downgraded my DSL to see if it was a speed issue. We left the conversation with an idea for me to test the DSL modem at my neighbor’s apartment who also has DSL. Great idea. He gave me the ticket number to reference and call back with.

I tested the modem up at my neighbor’s and actually got a signal for a second. Whew! Must be the line.

Later that night I ran down to Starbucks to get a wireless connection and actually try chatting my way through support. It gave me some relief that I didn’t have to talk to the computer voice, but I still had to go through a number of account details and explanations even though I opened up with the Ticket Number. They bring up the ticket and make an appointment for a technician to come out from the ASI Line Department. On Monday, the line technician comes out, checks the line, and tells me it’s good. And leaves.

Now what?

Yea, that’s right. I have to call back, talk to the computer voice, talk to the CSR, and get back in touch with the line department to setup an appointment for a DSL technician to come out. They can’t come out immediately, they have to schedule it out for one day. Arrgh. Now I’m scheduled for Tuesday between 8AM and 5PM. Nice scheduling, eh? It’s okay… I’m home with 2 sick kids today, I have plenty of time.

Today (Tuesday), the DSL technician comes out and within a few minutes he has me up and running with a new modem. I am charged with the visit and the modem, a sum of $120.

$120 to get my DSL back is actually a relief, but from a marketing standpoint it doesn’t make sense. I wonder how many other DSL customers have upgraded their account with AT&T and stayed with them for over 4 years. They give the modem away when you first sign up… but won’t give me a freebie after I’ve been with them for 4 years? That’s dumb customer appreciation. It tells me that you simply want to nickel and dime me even after I’ve been loyal all these years. I also have phone service with them.

Here’s my point of this rant, though. Every single person that I had the pleasure of working with in this issue was fantastic. Every single CSR was polite, friendly, and personable. I spoke with one representative in St. Louis and we both talked about how thankful that the kidnapping out there resulted in the boys being returned to their parents.

What was frustrating and failed in this issue was the business, the process, and the technology – never the people. I was always thankful and gracious with each support person I spoke with… I know that it’s not their fault that someone decided to spend millions on a dumb voice system. Each of them apologized for the inconvenience and moved me on to the next person according to their process… but the process sucks!

The questions: Why not quickly review a customer’s records and actually put a value to their loyalty and set your level of support accordingly? Had AT&T reviewed my account they would have seen NO complaints or problems in 4 years with one upgrade and a solid payment history. Isn’t that worth a top level DSL technician being sent out immediately, at no cost, troubleshooting the system, and installing a new modem? I think so… but someone at AT&T obviously disagrees.

I wanted to let you all know that my daughter’s fever broke today and she’s getting back on her feet. There was a grand finale that I won’t go into detail with, but I’m happy to have her getting healthy and eating again.

My son and I are both fighting this one, but keeping the washer and hand-cleaning going has definitely helping, I think we’re going to make it. Thanks to those folks that personally reached out and emailed or commented. Your kindness is incredible and I really appreciate it. I work for a great employer but have to admit that only one person called or emailed from there… but so many of you, my fellow bloggers, reached out from all over the world.

Wow – that really blows me away! Thank-you.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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