Customer Disservice the Verizon Way (How Not to Treat Your Clients)

 

I dedicate this week, the first week of April 2014, to the millions of companies in the world that still care about their customers.  This week, I lost hundreds of man hours, thousands of dollars, and four nights of sleep (and counting) because of one company that prides itself on disservice, Verizon Business.  Never have I had a company bring me to tears of frustration and anger, but this one did!   I firmly believe that life is a series of lessons on how to be a better human, how to live a better life, how to accomplish your dreams and to create a legacy.  Since I absolutely cannot get my phone situation resolved, even after several months of trying, I find the only way to turn this into something positive is by finding the lessons.  Thank you Verizon Business.  Thank you for teaching me how to run a better business.  As much as you tried to take me down and ruin my business, I have found a way to win.  I win by learning from your mistakes.

Here are 6 ways NOT to treat your clients, because unlike Verizon, you probably are not a monopoly.

1. Blow Them Off – As my story goes, I’ve been having problems with my Verizon business phone lines for more than five months.  Starting in November 2013, the phone lines in my real estate office started going out.  Calls were being dropped.  The phones would go down for hours at a time.  We’d call Verizon Business, they would send out technicians.  They would tell us that there is nothing wrong with the lines.  Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, within an hour the lines would be up again.  This happened countless times.  We even hired three different phone technicians to come out to check our phone system, and all three told us, it’s not a phone system problem, it’s a phone line problem.  A week would go by, the phone would be fine, and then all of a sudden they would go down again.  Finally, in March, after having filed more than 20 tickets with Verizon over the past several months, we decided to switch our services to Comcast.  Verizon made it evident that they didn’t care about and wouldn’t fix our problem.  Assuming you are not a monopoly (or as close as a business can get to being one) you should not constantly blow your customers off.  If your customer has filed more than ten trouble tickets in a short period, send your entire technical team out to the customer and tell that team that they should not come back until the problem is fixed.

2. Record The Client Call for No Reason – Did you know that Verizon Business records all of your calls, BUT you may not record the call.  Interesting.  Why are they recording the call?  It’s certainly not so they can improve the customer experience.  Maybe their executive team plays those recorded calls during team meetings so that they can get a good laugh at how upset the customer is.  “Dave – next time she calls, tell her that the system shows that she has no open trouble tickets… hahahahahaha.”  Why else would they want to record these calls, really?  They must just use these calls to get a laugh out of how much they angered the customers.  “Oh Boy…that customer was a 10 – she was ANGRY.”  So, assuming that you are not Verizon, and that you love your customers, don’t record the customer service calls because it ticks the customer off even more.  If you must record the calls, do so only if you are going to do something productive, like improve your business!

3. Never, Never, Never Allow Your Customer to Talk to the Same Person Twice: When a customer is made a promise and that promise is not kept, awful businesses never let that customer talk to the person who made the promise.  This makes perfect sense if you have very low customer service standards.  When the client can talk to the same customer representative over and over, that makes your employees accountable for what they say.  When the representative knows that there is no accountability, they can and will say anything to get the customer off the phone.  So, assuming you do care about your customers, then customers need one point of contact so that the one point of contact is accountable for their words and actions.

4. Close or Go Half Staff on Weekends – If you are in a business where the client absolutely depends on your services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then just close or at a minimum go half staff when the customers need you most.  If you want to show absolute disservice to your clients, do NOT offer an emergency number for people that really need you.  By this point, I’m assuming that your business is not a monopoly and that you actually do care about your business.  Here’s a word to the wise – be available when your customers desperately need you.  By not being available, you are telling your customers and the world that you don’t care.  At a minimum, give your customers an emergency number so that they know you are always a phone call away.

5. Have Fake Companies – I don’t know how exactly to describe this because it wouldn’t even occur to most companies to do this, but when your entire company is built on a premise of disservice, it probably makes total sense.  I’ll do my best to explain.  For the past four days and counting, when you call my real estate office, the lines are out of service.  Did I mention that this is spring market and we spend thousands of dollars advertising that phone number to our potential clients?  Anyway, this all happened because I transferred our lines to Comcast.  It didn’t have to happen like this. Verizon has the ability to remote call forward your phone lines to a working number until the transfer is complete.  However, Verizon doesn’t like it when customers leave, so they prefer not to call forward.  “If you are going to leave us, we are going to make you pay big time.”  Most of us don’t run businesses where we punish customers for leaving.  In fact, many of us try to keep the door open so that the customer has the choice to come back.  Not Verizon Business.  They don’t want you back.  They want to treat you with absolute disservice until the last possible moment.  Anyway after several days of constant run around with Verizon, I was then told that Verizon doesn’t have my lines and I’ve been talking to the wrong people all week. Really?  My bill has always been paid to Verizon?  “Your lines are MCI/Verizon Business – it’s a different phone number,” I was told.  So, I called MCI/Verizon Business.  They answer their lines as Verizon, but they aren’t connected to the other Verizon…it’s like there are little cells of Verizon’s around and they are not connected.  So, if you are a customer that loves your clients don’t do this.  In fact, I can’t think of any reason that an business would.  For most businesses it would never occur to you to set up little cells of businesses that don’t communicate – but just in case this idea does cross your mind, it’s a bad idea if you want to keep customers.

6. Make a Fake Mission Statement: Just for a laugh, I decided to check out the Verizon Mission Statement.  I will say, it’s the first time in four days that I’ve had a laugh.  If you are in the business of customer disservice, put a mission statement out on your website because it’s the thing to do, but then distribute an internal memo letting your people know that this is fake.  Only great companies live by their mission.

I am just old enough to remember when AT&T was broken into several businesses known as the Baby Bells.  Just because monopolies don’t exist in the United States doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  In fact they do.  You will know when you are dealing with one when you are the customer of a massive company that has a blatant disregard for the customer.  The silver lining here is that there are lessons to be learned from bad companies and hopefully you’ll walk away today with six lessons to building an awesome business by building a business that is nothing like Verizon Business.

So, for all the people in the world who have been mistreated as a customer, there’s peace in knowing that there is a lesson to be learned from those businesses.  I’d be happy to lend you my ear if you are having similar issues.  Call me at 978-689-2880.  Ooopps…I forgot, my line is probably still down.  You can email me or respond to the post below and I’m happy to listen.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Who Cares Who You Love?

“This  is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated  philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is  kindness.” Dalai  Lama

My awesomely organized, prompt, hard working assistant, Molly, recently went incommunicado.  She went from being so amazingly dependable, to not showing up for work for periods of time.  I thought she had quit and was preparing myself to re-train someone.  I reached out to find out if she was ever coming back and she told me a little bit about what was going on in her life.  She had recently come “out of the closet” by announcing to the world her love for her girlfriend, Kay.  I had seen her relationship status change on Facebook and noticed that her “In a Relationship” status was with another girl.  I quickly “liked” her status change and went about my day, the same as I would do for anyone with a positive relationship change.  It didn’t occur to me that anyone in the world would care that she was in love with another girl.  Why would they care about how someone else feels?  It’s Molly’s life.  If she’s happy, why would anyone find reason NOT to be happy for her?   Apparently there were lots of people unhappy with Molly’s announcement, causing her to toil for lengths of time, bordering on depression and anxiety.  She lost people that were supposed to love her no matter what.

Oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control or the state of being subject to such treatment or control.  I don’t believe in slavery.  Hopefully, no matter where you stand on gay and lesbian rights, you can appreciate that slavery is wrong.  We cannot oppress others.   As I pondered Molly’s situation, doing my best to look at things from her point of view, I wondered why people would try to oppress her just because she has a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.  Really?  Who cares?  Nobody owns Molly…just like nobody owns me or you.

But, the more I thought about oppression and bringing others down, the more I realized that those that chose to walk away from their friendships with Molly were oppressing themselves, not Molly! THEY were the ones that would no longer get the opportunity to talk to, spend time with, and enjoy the company of this young, funny, smart, vibrant woman.  This was THEIR loss, not Molly’s.

When I look at people, I look for how they treat others.  Are they kind?  Do they give back?  Are they good to their kids?  I might be guilty of judging people on these standards, but never on the color of their skin, their weight, their income, and certainly never on who they love.  Be careful who you judge, because you may very well end up enslaving yourself to a life void of fun, amazing, beautiful people who are on their own path to positively changing the world.

Recently I read Martin Luther King Jr.s book A Strength to Love.  In this book he shares his insight on racism and inequality.  In essence, he states that you cannot build a world at peace by focusing on how other humans are different from you.  Focus on your sameness.  At your core, you are just like everyone else because you are human.  You probably share many other attributes with the human race too…like wanting to find happiness, peace, and joy.  Find peace by focusing on your oneness with humanity and you will release yourself from your own oppression caused by judging others for their differences.

The great thing for Molly is that now she has more time for the people that don’t define her by who she loves, oh and selfishly, she has more time for work now too :).   Closets were meant for fashion…not for hiding who you are.  There’s plenty of people in the world who will love you for who you are, so stop pleasing anyone who doesn’t.  Life’s too short…so….. Molly, get back to work!!

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Is She A Learning Disabled Kid or Are You a Teaching Disabled Teacher?

In fifth grade I remember the day I was labeled “learning disabled.”  Looking back at those days and knowing what I know now, I see that it was all horse pucky.  I’m sure I will get flack for this post but I’ll take it because this needs to be said.  If you are a teacher, and there’s a kid that just ain’t learning (I feel obliged to throw the “ain’t” in so that my critics who read this will have evidence to support the fact that I am really learning disabled!), then I would argue that you are a teaching disabled teacher with a perfectly normal kid.  Everyone in the entire world is equipped to learn but everyone learns a little differently and at varying speeds.

This is what prompted me to write the blog today.  I read lots of business books.  Two that I read recently were Switch and How We Decide, both of which were awesome books about how the mind works.  Both books shared a segment on how to raise high achieving children.  Despite what you may think, you do not raise high reaching children by always rewarding them for A’s on the report card and disciplining them for the C’s, D’s, and F’s.  No, the problem with this very popular method of rewarding children is that kids who are always rewarded for high grades will simply give up when they feel they can’t get that A grade in a particular subject.  In their eyes, there is no use in trying because they know the best they will do is a C, which is pretty much the same as an F to their parents, so they just don’t try.

This concept really hit home for me when I was reading these two books because I was labeled by Mr. S, my fifth grade teacher, as a learning disabled child.  Not only did I buy it, but my parents bought it too.  My “learning disabled” status carried me all the way through to my high school graduation.  I developed a habit because of my label and that habit was as follows: I either got A’s in my classes or I got F’s.  In my head, there was no use in trying unless something came easy to me.  There was no benefit in trying because I was learning disabled and there was no benefit in getting better if I couldn’t achieve an A.  For me, my label stuck.  Upon graduating from high school I was declined from every university I applied to, even the state schools.  The first turning point in my life was being labeled learning disabled.  The second turning point in my life was being declined from every college and university to which I applied.  The third turning point was graduating from one of the best business schools in the country, and then eventually also completing law school and passing the Massachusetts Bar Exam.  What will the next turning point be for me?  Who knows, because the sky is the limit! I am having no issue achieving all of my wildest dreams, but I can say for sure that one teaching disabled teacher created lots of speed bumps and curves along the way by labeling me.  I got some slack when I wrote my Blog entitled Forget About Your Strengths – The Real Money is In Your Weaknesses, but in reality this is the story of my life.  If you work every single day on the things you think are hard, eventually they become easy, and then you wonder what else you are capable of doing.  That’s how you breakdown self-imposed as well as teacher-imposed, and society-imposed limits.

I do not claim to be an expert in child rearing, that’s for sure.  By the way, if you do want to read an awesome blog about bringing up kids check out www.painfullyunique.com.  I can offer you this.  Studies prove that rewarding your kid for incremental improvements will result in a kid that is not fearful of trying and failing.  Be really careful of rewarding kids for A’s, B’s, and C’s on the report card because you may very well be labeling your kids just like I was labeled three decades ago.  Instead, watch carefully and pat them on the back when they try hard and accomplish something.  Reward your kid not for scaling the mountain to the top, but rather for taking a step forward on a steep hill, because that’s just as huge an accomplishment for many.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.