Ed reveals the communication tools professionals can use to guarantee their work.
Ed reveals the communication tools professionals can use to guarantee their work.
Verizon – Redux: The power of blogging is apparent when Verizon calls me the day after my original post in this column about their service, or lack thereof, to ask how they can address the problems I raised. I glad to say that the issues I raised have been resolved. The process, however, is fascinating to me.
The day after my post, I attended a conference conducted by my own business coach, Alan Weiss. While there, coincidentally, Verizon Fios was conducting a sales training program. I talked to one of the folks running the program, who then introduced me to a district manager. He knows the store manager where my incident occurred and said he would contact him. (I have still not heard from him.) Also, during the day, another higher up attempted to reach me by phone. On my return later in the day, I returned the call … and we finally connected.
The billing issue that arose after my purchases was resolved to my satisfaction, and I learned more about Verizon. One,I was told they outsource their collection issues rather than first seeking to resolve any questions internally. To my way of thinking, this is a mistake because most billing issues result from the actions of the creditor. And, in the case of lawyers, unresolved billing issues could result in a malpractice action. Wouldn’t it be better to address the billing issue, resolve it and retain the goodwill of the client, not to mention the client’s future business? Verizon, being in an oligarchic position, apparently, doesn’t understand the nuance. Of course, collection is not their strength; sales and service is. But, I would think that better collection techniques could enhance rather than destroy customer goodwill.
Second, I learned that neither he store level nor the first contact person can resolve these issues. They have to be pushed "upstairs." In this case, it was another district manager who had the authority. One of the lessons learned from Ritz Carlton Hotels (now a division of Marriott) is that all front line personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,500 to satisfy customer complaints. SAS, the airline, after their bankruptcy, pushed all decision-making authority down to the lowest level. This process made sure that customer issues are resolved as quickly as possible; that the sour taste of complaints does not remain with the customer longer than need be; and that senior folks are focusing on what they are hired to do … not to settle what usually amounts to "small" issues.
In the case of lawyers, value is in the eye of the beholder, the client. Lawyers can/should adjust bills in order to match value as seen by the client. Most billing issues, in my opinion, are set up by the lawyer in the first intake session. A full discussion not only of the matter, but also the fee to be charged for the matter, will likely avoid most billing problems … and assure the lawyer is paid on time and in full.
Next, I learned that Verizon is experimenting in our geographic area (Southern California) with requiring appointments so that customers can better plan their time and be served without interruption. I commend the company for seeking to offer better service. I believe (this is unsolicited feedback) that a combination approach would work better …. that is, make appointments and serve "walk-ins" if / when their representatives are available. It is difficult to manage any large company. Verizon certainly is in this category. But, then, so is Apple and Apple, among others seems to be able to address appointments as well as walk-ins.
Bottom line, I’m pleased with my purchases from Verizon, which included the new iPad and Motorola Razr Maxx, and I’m pleased with finally dealing with the other issues that arose. It was unfortunate that Verizon could not have handled our issues more effectively, with less turmoil, in order to retain that sweet smell of consumer purchase euphoria.
Two weeks ago, I purchased a Motorola Razr Maxx from Verizon and an iPad. I’m happy with both, but both need some adjusting. Perhaps I would be more correct in saying that the owner of the devices needs some adjusting … or relearning.
In any event, I went into Verizon this afternoon, the same store from where the purchases were made., and asked for assistance. I was told that they now have a new policy: They would help me if I want to buy a new device or accessory. But, they would need to make an appointment with me for another time if I want to ask questions or get some help about the devices I already own.
The old policy was to wait your turn until a representative had finished with a current customer and was available to meet with you. That seemed fair.
Apple, a much larger store, will put you on their list and you wait your turn. Yes, they will also make an appointment for you at the Genius Bar. And there are many knowledgeable sales people walking the floor who can answer most of the questions I’ve had … and are willing to do so.
This reminds me of the lawyer who plays telephone tag with a client … to the frustration of the client. If you’re not in when the client calls and cannot return the phone call quickly, have your assistant make an appointment. It’s clearly better, however, to take that call on the first attempt if you’re in the office. Failure to connect is still the #1 complaint against lawyers.
Verizon does not seem to get this simple fact of customer relations! Do not let the customer go away angry because you are unwilling to answer his/her questions about the device you sold. Oh, yes, I forgot. They can be as nasty as they want because they have you tied to a two year contract! Just think what would happen without that contract? I’d be back at AT&T in a heartbeat!
While walking the streets of Missoula last week, we came upon a store. The sign in the window with the hours of operation concluded, “… Saturdays by Chance …”
Too many clients believe that lawyers are only “…open by chance.” They know lawyers work hard, work long hours, and are generally not available to clients when they need them. Why? Because the number one complaint against lawyers with State Bar disciplinary boards is still failure to return phone calls. When we first meet with clients, there should be a conversation about how to communicate. How long the lawyer will take to respond (90 minutes, 24 hours, etc.) and how the client wants to receive the communication (email, telephone, etc.), among other issues.
And make sure you understand the client as well as the client understands you. Some people call this “active listening.” Without it, you are talking at each other rather than to/with each other.
After my last post about customer service, Orbea, the manufacturer of the bike frame I was riding when I was involved in an accident, a company representative contacted me. His explanation for the less than appropriate company response was that it was sent from Spain, the company headquarters, and the sender had challenges with the English language.
Whether this is true, I cannot say. But, Mr. Paul Alexander of the U.S. Orbea arm said that I should visit a local Orbea retailer and I would receive a 15% – 20% discount on a new bike. He said, "I look forward to getting you back on your bike and leave you a satisfied Orbea cyclist."
Thank you, Mr. Alexander. That should have been the first response from Orbea. My wife asked for information about the company’s "crash program." Even an expression of sympathy/concern and a statement that the company doesn’t have a crash program would have sufficed … and saved unfavorable ink in this blog. Commenting on Orbea’s warranty program was not the subject of my wife’s inquiry.
I’m glad to see that the company has recouped so gracefully. Some companies don’t do even that. Some time ago, you may remember that United Airlines committed a major gaff. By not treating their customers with due respect, a song was written about the company and it appeared in the social media. The company stock dropped 10% as a result! That is still the subject of some discussion.
I’m glad that Orbea represented the cycling industry more professionally and with greater sensitivity on the rebound.