Saturday, June 13, 2009

Customer Service

My mother now has a telephone in her bedroom. This may not sound like a major accomplishment, but it was. You see she had just moved, and having spent two hours on the phone, and having to wait a week, she was in no mood for the installer to tell her that she would not be able to have a phone because there was a problem with the wiring in the building.

I called and made an appointment for the installer to return, confident that we could solve the problem. I would like to know what he was thinking, and whether he really feared for his life when my wife, my mother, and I surrounded him and assured him that he was not leaving until we had a working telephone.

I remembered a story about my former employer who had just bought a new furnace. A few weeks later, on the coldest day of the year, it quit. A repairman came out, took a look, and said he would be back the next day. My boss, pulled a Colt 45 from a drawer, and laid it on the table and said, “If I’m freezing, you are too.” The furnace was repaired within the hour.

I didn’t have to stoop to that, but it did cross my mind. After a few more threats and with my help, the problem was solved with the phones working within about an hour and a half.

This situation was complicated by the fact that my mother worked for SW Bell for 40 years retiring about 20 years ago. She knows that people would have got called on the carpet and probably fired for things that are now standard operating procedures. Things like putting a customer on hold for thirty-minutes or an installer telling a customer that a wiring issue was an insurmountable problem, would have resulted in dismissal forty years ago. Times have changed.

Having suffered through 10 years of dealing with Sprint, I was ready for anything, but long time AT&T people are still getting used to lousy service.