Can You Hear Me Now Sprint? Probably Not.

by Marianne Richmond on September 15, 2006

I have invested WAY too much time trying to resolve issues with Sprint so with this post I will officially leave it in their hands to resolve without me. There are 64 emails in desktop search since June, plus the many voice minutes in my "whatstheplantoday plan" that document that they have more than enough information from me on the topics.

 However since I briefly touched upon it last week, I have noticed several visitors from Overland Park in my site meter. In fact, more "attention" being paid there perhaps than in fixing the problem.So, I thought I might wave the distress signal a little harder in the headline, in hopes that someone might address my specific issues by looking at their own records, of course.

 Maybe even if someone from Kansas or any one of the other 49 states called instead of India, the connection itself would be better, as would the ability to communicate in a mutually understood language. Please pardon me if that is a politically incorrect statement, but I think it is the height of disrespect for customers who have already expressed that they are having a problem with a product or service to have to deal with the arduous task of trying to communicate under these conditions….the fact that there is a "sound delay" on the connection is ludicrous considering that the sound in this case, is the product and communication is their business.

A few weeks ago Josh Hallet at Hyku wrote a post with the title Corporations Visiting Blogs, But Not Commenting=Prank Calling? Allan Jenkins, David Parmet and I left comments agreeing with his premise that corporations were obviously monitoring blogs for information but not taking the extra few minutes it would take to leave a comment…not even a "form" comment that could say, "We heard you, please call 1-800-IDO-CARE to discuss." And then have that as a "working" number.

 Josh added some further thoughts the next day after Rob Safuto linked to his post and made some points that we shouldn’t expect corporations to comment on our posts and that visiting a blog is not a nuisance similar to prank calling. OK, not the same kind of nuisance as a "hang up." And a comment is not necessarily required or even what is being sought.

As customers, we start out with the expectation that the product or service we are paying for is going to deliver what it is supposed to and that the charges for the product or service that come on our bill should reflect what has been contracted for…in other words, we don’t really want to be communicating with the company to begin with via any channel. When forced to communicate, most of us start out with the rep, escalate to the supervisor and then onward from there depending upon the resolution or lack thereof. No insight here.

Reasons that might prompt a blog post are of course, sheer frustration as well as the belief that the companies that you reach the point of blogging about are the companies that will only correct the problem if they come to believe that there are enough unhappy customers to effect their bottom line. The companies that care about their customers and understand the value of the relationship would have handled the problem with the initial call.

 The blog post occurs when to paraphrase Cool Hand Luke, there is a failure to communicate. A blog post can become what Jackie Huba called, The Influence of One." The message to the company is that since you don’t care about the individual customer, maybe you will listen and correct the problem for a few more customers if the volume gets load enough.

So, when Safuto writes, "I don’t think that those companies have a responsibility to respond to a channel created and maintained by someone else," Like Josh, I "agree/disagree." Josh says that they don’t have a responsibility, but should try. And then adds that as customers we would probably rather do business with the company that openly communicates.

Yes, agree…we would rather do business with a company that openly communicates and that provides the service or product that we are paying for. And we would rather not do business with companies that don’t; and companies that don’t do either one, eventually will not have customers, profits and finally a business at all.

So, companies do have a responsibility to keep their customers and stay in business. Kind of basic fiscal responsibility.So my "disagree" is with the responsibility part. Companies do have a responsibility to provide the product or service that you are paying for. Further, they have a responsibility to provide a channel of communication. When informed that there is a problem, they have a responsibility to correct it….did I say, corrected at the time that they are informed or soon thereafter.

So, my question is, if companies get the communication that you are having a problem by visiting your blog, don’t they have a responsibility to communicate with you in some manner? Isn’t that the first step of customer service responsibility? I think it is. No, "they" don’t have to leave a comment; there are other means to communicate.

I disagree that the blog is the "channel created and maintained by someone else" and therefore "they" don’t have any responsibility to respond to it. When the corporate representative, from whatever functional department he/she came from, reads on a blog that the individual writing the blog has a problem they should "deal" with the problem in whatever channel will get it fixed. That’s their responsibility as a responsible corporate citizen at the very least. In a sense, it is similar to the "duty to inform" issue from my clinical licensing exam: you are aware of the problem, now report it to those who can fix it. It is your duty and responsibility.

I will mention here that in my comment on Josh’s post, I noted that someone from GEICO actually followed up via email to ask what the problem had been on an offhand negative reference I made about them in a blog post in September 2005. And I was not and am not a Geico customer. The person who followed up with me in the course of several emails that we exchanged said he was a fan of Fred Reichheld and the Net Promoter Score. It showed.

I will also note that in that same post a year ago, Sprint and Charter were also mentioned and the customer service problems that I was referring to then are the same problems that I am having now. One year and counting, Sprint; that place that uses the tagline, "our customers come first."

 And, don’t try to "reach" Sprint via their blog….all you get is a blank screen and the words "done" at the bottom of the page.

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