This is the final post in a short series that describes my recent experience as a T-Mobile customer.
The situation started with my goal of upgrading my phone to a newer model but at a price that was no more than what a new customer would pay. Since I have been a loyal customer for almost 8 years, this seemed like a reasonable request. You can read the most recent prior article (Round four) here.
After getting ignored by T-Mobile’s executive customer service for three days, I took one final action. I sent an email to the president of T-Mobile, Robert Dotson. With a company as big as T-Mobile I realize this was a shot in the dark but it was worth a try as a final attempt at a resolution.
About 8 hours later I received a call from “Brian” who said he was from the T-Mobile executive offices. Brian got right to the point. It was refreshing that he did not seem to be reading from a script. While his style lacked the warmth and friendliness I’d prefer, he was efficient and professional. They get 5 points for being responsive and professional.
Brian explained the situation and helped me understand, from T-Mobile’s perspective, why I could not get the phone upgrade for the same price as a new customer. His explanation did not have a lot of details, but at least he tried. This was a first. Two points for trying to help me understand.
Then Brian offered me the same deal Andy (the first customer service representative) did ($79.99). I asked him if this was the best he could do. He said it was. Then I mentioned Albert (the second customer service representative) had made a better offer ($47). So Brian matched that offer. It was still a few dollars more than what new customer would pay but I sensed this was the best they would do. I had pushed as far as I wanted to.
So we settled on Brian’s second offer and we wrapped up the deal.
Remember (from Round three) Albert had made a point to tell me (twice) that his final offer was only good for that call. He made it clear I would not get that same pricing again from T-Mobile for this upgrade.
Albert lied to me about his final offer. So did Brian. Minus five points.
There are many, many lessons we can learn from this. We don’t have the time to cover them all. But a few stand out as important:
1. Don’t lie to your customers
This is as basic as it gets so it should never be an issue. But I was lied to twice by T-Mobile employees during this service resolution. This did not make me feel like a valued customer. It made me wonder what else they would say that’s not true.
2. Be easy to work with
This goes contrary to what many big companies seem to think is profitable. Their logic appears to be they will save more money by making it hard for customers to get the best deal. They know most customers will stop at the first or second level. They forget this also drives customers into the arms of companies that are easy to do business with.
3. Make your words and actions match.
This is not always easy, especially in a large company. But T-Mobile employees were very consistent about claiming they value my loyalty. Yet some of their actions, and much of this process, spoke otherwise. By the time this situation was resolved I was tired of hearing how much they valued my loyalty. It sounded phony.
4. Let your employees be genuine (not scripted)
The best part of this experience was when I was talking with real people. Both Andy and Brian seemed like smart, professional and engaged employees (if you can overlook Brian’s one little lie). They gave the impression T-Mobile hires quality people.
A less enjoyable part of the experience was talking to someone who was unable to carry on a real conversation. He couldn’t even converse well using the script. As a customer, this makes me think the company places a low value on customer support. It makes me think they’ve cut corners in how they serve me. So, my needs are a low priority.
5. Customers don’t always get what they want
We all know we cannot give every customer everything they want. And in this regard, T-Mobile did well. They held the line and refused to give me what I thought was fair. It’s a good reminder. Every transaction has (at least) two sides. And the final deal should work for everyone. As a business you need to establish what you will and will not do for your customers.
I give T-Mobile credit for drawing a line in the sand and not crossing it.
As I mentioned earlier, my entire point in this was to see how much T-Mobile valued my customer loyalty.
My metric was simple:
Would they give me the same deal as a new customer?”
In the end, the answer was no. They would not.
I had to work hard to get a deal that was even close to what a new customer would get. But a new customer would get a lower price up front and easily. They would not be put through an obstacle course like I was. And I doubt they would have been ignored and lied to, like I was.
T-Mobile made many mistakes during this service situation. I expected better because they have done better in the past. My guess is they have made changes in the past 12-18 months to cut costs and these changes have reduced the quality of their service. This is too bad because they had a good thing going. Prior to this I had been impressed at their customer service.
Overall T-Mobile is a good company to do business with. They offer me a generous usage plan and reliable service. Most of my contact with them is easy and convenient because it’s done via their website. And, some of their customer service people are very good. They seem like genuine people.
I don’t intend this to steer anyone away from (or toward) doing business with T-Mobile. My intent is just to reveal a real-life customer service experience and draw some useful lessons from it. I hope this useful to you. And I would like to hear what you think about this or similar customer service experiences.
Thanks for reading!