Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No one wants our business.

What do a pediatrician’s office, a boutique and a mega communications corporation have in common? No one wants our business.

Isn't it comforting to know there are companies out there in this day and time that do not need business. On two consecutive days, during business hours, voicemail messages were left at our pediatrician’s office and an upscale boutique. Here we are 7 days later and still no return phone calls from anyone.

The absolute best is the new U-Verse from AT&T, after searching for quite a while we finally found a phone number to call to ask questions, we were ready to order. Understand U-Verse is being widely advertised on television and via mailings to us and after 30 minutes on the phone with them, an appointment was scheduled to make the switch. We were ready and happy to pay them about $1800 less annually than our current provider, we were going for the entire package.

Then the follow up call came from the installation support group. It was to confirm our address – makes sense if it wasn't AT&T who has been sending us four bills a month for four phone lines for over 21 years at the same address. The need to confirm our address was explained poorly and defensively by this employee. If we could not confirm that we were either NW or NE they could not do the install, and if we could not tell them, it would take them at least 3 days to figure it out. THREE days in this day and time and our street address is the ONLY street by its name in our city!

The original appointment had been set by a friendly and thorough person and was less than 36 hours away. The installation support call ended with my husband kindly suggesting that when they finally found us on a map, then please call us to reschedule the appointment. We have not heard back from AT&T U-Verse since then. Not only have they lost our business, they wasted a lot of employee man-hours with unbelievable incompetence. And if any of you out there want to forward this on to someone you know at AT&T -- be my guest.

Any lessons here for you? Consider these questions –

* What systems do you have in place to make certain calls are returned? If an employee does not take ownership, then create technology to keep your customers from falling through the cracks.
* How much damage occurs when one employee undermines the goodwill or even the “sale” of another employee?
* Do your employees know the importance of a timely, responsive return call?

The only reason a business exists is to service and sell a customer. This experience does cause me to wonder how the pediatrician’s office handles emergency messages. Thankfully my call was to book a non-life threatening appointment. My messages for the boutique were simply to check on an item in a certain size, not a life threatening matter either. However I am a customer who has left two messages and deserve the courtesy of a call.

It seems so simple – call your customer back. Must not be as simple as I think because 7 days later, we are still waiting for the phone to ring.