I’m old enough to remember a time when the only way to reach out to a company was through a nicely written letter that went into the mail to some person somewhere in the company and just maybe 6 – 8 weeks later I might get a coupon or something for my trouble. There was a time when I could call a toll free number and be on hold for a brief period of time but then speak to a human. Fast forward to this week. No longer does snail mail come into consideration and getting on the phone and speaking to a human does not guarantee that something will get resolved right away. How did I get results? How did I get heard? Well I tweeted of course.
My first experience was with Comcast. Recent changes for my Dad at the nursing home had him moved to a new room. We upgraded his TV cable to digital service. Seemed simple enough, and I worked with local folks to get the digital box set up. Unfortunately somewhere between the move and new equipment my Dad hit the account jackpot with Comcast — and they generated a bunch of new accounts for him. There was his old account. Then there was a new account for his regular cable and then another new account for his digital box. Confusing. But the bad part is no one actually communicated that to the person paying the bills (that would be me). So I continued to pay the old bill and when I got the first set of bills that showed a crazy mess, I got on the phone. Spent over an hour on a Saturday trying to figure it all out. The person I spoke with did a great job of trying to figure it out and then said they would get back to me. So I let it go. And then a few days later, I got the disconnect notice for my Dad. I was not happy. So I vented on Twitter.
Less then an hour later I got a note back from one of the @comcastcares people. He told me what email to send my issue to, and then I started getting phone calls from a great customer service rep who was able to figure it all out. I haven’t seen the final results but they were able to consolidate everything and get it down to one account without my Dad losing any service.
I had an interesting experience at the same time with my old hosting provider, Network Solutions. I’ve been with them for a very long time, but as social tools have made things easier and I’ve decided to go with a WordPress option for my site, I’ve decided to go in a different direction with my hosting. I was able to take care of DNS redirects and everything from the account panel. But interestingly enough at Network Solutions I cannot “cancel services” from their account management area. So the one part I still needed to shut off required an email. I went on their website to their email form which did not have an option for “cancel services”. Then I got on the phone and got put on hold for over 15 minutes. I follow @shashib on twitter so after this experience I sent him a tweet asking him how I cancel services. In a short period of time (under an hour) he responded with the email I needed to use. I sent out the email, and got a response and now, hopefully I won’t get charged for another month.
Notice what happened in both of these situations?
In order to get the results I wanted as a customer, I used a public soap box. And they were listening. And they responded.
But, I tried other ways before that and it didn’t work.
Dear customer service professionals — what do you think of this? Is this just the way it is now? Or is there something wrong with me as a customer having to go public before you listen to me and I get results that I need.