You People, 3 IP Communications Customer Service No-Nos

Suzanne Bowen : Monetizing IP Communications
Suzanne Bowen
37 yrs in telecom, teaching, blog & grant writing, biz development, marketing, & PR. Favorite moments in life involve time w/ family & friends, networking, IP communications industry verticals & horizontals, running, traveling, foreign languages
| 1. "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition..." Barack Obama ..... 2. "One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain." By Thomas Sowell

You People, 3 IP Communications Customer Service No-Nos

Customer Service SuccessIP communications and wireless companies are not always a species that give customers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

In reality, I think it is probably one of the reasons why maybe as many as * 43% of them do not live past four years in business. So, what are some of the mistakes that companies in our industry make in customer service?

1. No regular training in the best language to use in any given customer service situation.
For example, what do the readers of this blog post think of the phrase, "You people," being used in written or oral communication with customers? Me? It denotes a rude individual on your company's team has penned his response to your customer. It connotes images of your staff member smacking gum with his feet propped on his desk, a metaphor of disgust for your customer.

2. Failure to even recognize incoming sales inquiries gives the impression of the obvious poor customer service that would follow should a "sign up" ever actually happen.
This is my current business pet peeve. For example, I have filled a web form three times, emailed and called sales phone numbers several times of a certain European company to get started as their wholesale customer. All emails are unanswered. All phone calls are on voice-mail and no call back. I have even asked several of my friends who work for or own highly respected global telecommunications-related companies that have connections with this wholesale company as a customer or vendor ... to introduce me to the right people to start a sales dialogue. Nothing. Hmm.

3. If you have made a mistake in providing service to your customer, own up to it and do what you can quickly and truthfully to make up for it.
For example, you overcharged, cancelled a part of the service, or moved to or added new IP addresses without informing and making sure as many customers as possible know in advance. I have seen where the last situation occurred, and when customers complained that their thousands of users were without service for more than 24 hours because of it, the company customer service representative said the customer should read the changes in the knowledge base more regularly. (Ouch!)

In Judith Hurwitz's book Smart or Lucky?, there is a simple but so true statement: "Companies that withstand the pressures of competition and changing technologies are those that ... solve customer problems ..." 

(By the way, she is a speaker at ITEXPO Avaya DevConnect night February 2. I'll be there. Judith Hurwitz might be joining us at the Women in Wireless and Telecom Breakfast the same day at 8 AM. More details and RSVP location for the ladies in your business to participate are on Linkedin.)

Take note of the fact that even huge and highly successful companies such as AT&T have customer service problems. Consumers rank AT&T lowest in satisfaction in which Net Promoter Score compared them to the other big three national wireless carriers. Some say that is one of the many reasons that AT&T needed to merge with T-Mobile, and why AT&T has such high churn. At least AT&T has iPhone, right? (I'm using Credo Wireless right now on my business mobile and on my personal mobile. I have used AT&T before, and I have no complaints about their service personally.)

In conclusion, please don't let your representatives talk like this to customers:
"You people need to fill the web form first if you want to buy service from us. Oh, you bought and resold our services before? The calls were garbled sounding not because of our company's QoS, bandwidth, or other ISP/network issue as you say. You are the one who needs to fix something."

* Page 14: Figure VII.5. Sources:, and Baldwin et al. (2000) 
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