Thursday, November 29, 2007

AT and T/Cingular/Sprint /Verizon - A Lesson in Service

The mobile phone and mobile service industry is very competitive and for good reason. It is a cash cow and there are only a few service providers to choose from. Recently my business partners and I turned in our old phones and purchased all new phones and as a result needed to coordinate ourselves with one service provider.

We all came from using different service providers - Verizon, (formerly Cingular)AT and T and Sprint. We all decided to go with Verizon. One partner was already there, but two of us had to leave our service providers of years, AT and T and Sprint. A Tale of Two Services it certainly turned out to be.

I ported my number from AT and T to Verizon. Little did I know that this automatically killed my AT and T account. I called AT and T right after my number ported to discuss my options to cancel my old account. They told me that my account had already been assessed a $150 cancellation fee. I replied that I did not even want my account cancelled but they did it automatically. Come to find out I only had 14 days left on my contract with AT and T. I explained that I had just received a phone through my business therefore did not need two phones and would like to explore my options. I also explained that after 4 years of being a loyal customer that $150 for 14 days was a great way to ruin what had been an otherwise great customer experience and relationship. The gentleman (and he was just that - very nice and courteous) said he would check to see what he could do. He got back on the phone and said they would waive the $150 fee. I thanked him and explained that this was consistent with the great customer service I had received for the past four years and would be happy to leave my wife's account with AT and T for the time being. Honestly, when the company was Cingular they were absolutely fantastic to deal with and I was skeptical when AT and T took over, but there has been no drop off in service. Because of their understanding and their willingness to acknowledge a loyal customer and treat me right, I will not hesitate in the future to include AT&T in my search for a cell company, or other services AT and T offers. They did the right thing and it is just that simple to market your company in a effective way. Here I am talking about how great they are. How many others will read this? That is good marketing and it did cost them much - actually it did not cost them anything. The $150 your thinking - on a 4 year customer who was low maintenance, they did not lose any money - they made money.

Now on to Sprint. My business partner moved away from Sprint, it took 3 days to port his old number and they treated him poorly. That is the short version. Needless to say none of us will ever consider Sprint for cell service based on his crummy experience and the problems he had with them prior to leaving their service.

Guess what - Sprint is losing customers by the bus loads. They are in trouble, even though they are the lead sponsor for NASCAR, and advertise through the nose. None of that matters when you have a crummy service and treat customers - new or old - poorly. Word spreads quickly.

The moral of the story is - even if your customers leave you treat them right. Take abuse from them? No. When the departure or the continuing relationship is handled maturely and professionally, treat them with respect and let them know they are valued. Good marketing, in this instance, is very inexpensive and incredibly effective. I recommend AT and T mobile whenever it comes up.

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