When Your Mobile Carrier Treats You Like A Real Human Being

I've been with the same mobile carrier for 10 years. I almost left two years ago over a billing issue, but a special customer-service SWAT team swooped in and took things over. Since then, my family has enjoyed the benefits of a dedicated customer-service rep. This is the real deal, as I know my rep's full name, personal email address and mobile phone number. I don't contact my rep often, but when I do, I get a personal response within 24 hours -- usually in much less time. Moreover, my rep helps me quickly cut through the complexity of phone plans and options to find the best value for my family.

What's the value of being treated like a human being by your mobile carrier? I would probably pay up to double to have this level of personalized service. The absence of typical mobile-carrier hassle is a big deal. I've got to believe the ROI for my mobile carrier pays off even more. For one, I genuinely like my rep. Second, I can't ever see myself leaving as long as I receive consistent care. Third, I only contact my rep two or three times per year, and that exchange has resulted in great satisfaction versus detraction (which is the case with most customer-service interactions with big companies).



Unfortunately, this is not the norm, not even with my own mobile carrier, which I speak so highly of. Independent of me, my mobile carrier is doing a better job in the customer-service area versus its competitors, because it's trying to reverse a massive wave of customer defections. It is also leading with one of the fastest, most innovative data networks. But the personal care it gives me is not standard. I wish it were, because I would advocate my carrier like there was no tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm cherishing the personalized service. I'm also hoping that someday my carrier will take the bold position of treating all its customers like human beings, or even VIPs. It would grant itself a huge competitive advantage.

Is treating your customers like human beings really a feasible business strategy? Yes. And I believe it could be done with my carrier. On a tactical level, it could wind down its expensive national-advertising and direct-response marketing campaigns. Instead, it could reallocate those funds to investment in its technology and customer service. That would be a huge contrast versus the competition and be highly recognized and rewarded by all mobile-carrier customers -- whose loyalty is bound by nothing more than disingenuous pricing plans and contracts.

Until then, I'll remain silent.

8 comments about "When Your Mobile Carrier Treats You Like A Real Human Being ".
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  1. Michael Senno from New York University, July 23, 2010 at 10:51 a.m.

    The treatment you receive is way too expensive to extend across a large clientele. However, I can say, CS is a tremendous differentiator. I switched to ATT for the iPhone, despite the coverage issues, I am hesitant to ever switch back to the competition because ATT's CS has treated me much better on every inquiry and has been very accommodating. [Sorry, I had to name names].

  2. James Bishop from B-to-B Digital Media LLC, July 23, 2010 at 11 a.m.

    Without question Customer Service is the critical factor for loyalty to a carrier. Today's technology is morphing the primary carriers into very similar voice and data networks. This, ultimately, will make cell coverage a commodity. The only true differentiators are the types of phones on the network and Customer Service. Going forward, CS will be primary attribute that helps a customer determine which carrier will be theirs.

    Are you listening Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon? You should be...

  3. Fj Rich from chase media group, July 23, 2010 at 11:38 a.m.

    Excellent stuff! This is simply what makes a difference--the customer experience--and why the Internet is so often falls short.

    Thx for the simple and effective way you delivered this important message. I'm guessing that your carrier is Sprint. I have the same experience and personal CS rep.


  4. Jeanne Byington from J M Byington & Associates, Inc., July 23, 2010 at 12:19 p.m.

    There are two Verizon Mobile stores within walking distance of my office. I discovered one that isn't that busy and in minutes, the staff smooths any wrinkles.

    While it may be too expensive to give every customer the personal service that Max gets, if a company has a culture of being pleasant and rewarding same...with occasional drop-ins and listening-ins by secret shopper types who commend staff at every level for being helpful and courteous, it would be a start.

    There is nothing more frustrating than watching a company expand its customer base while ignoring the customers it has.

    On the other hand, if a company doesn't provide the service you need, good customer service is useless--like a restaurant with horrible food and wonderful wait staff. Would you return?

  5. David Carlick from Carlick, July 23, 2010 at 1:42 p.m.

    I often wonder what goes on in those huge office towers everywhere that say Sprint, or AT&T, or Verizon. They seem to hold many people, yet none of them seem to talk to customers. A smartphone/family contract that is $2,000 or more per year is not too small to support good customer service. Nice story.

  6. Ron Stitt from Fox Television Stations, July 23, 2010 at 3:28 p.m.

    I've never had a good exchange with a carrier...maybe a couple that rose to the level of not being frustrating beyond belief. Carriers are leading culprits...others like MSOs/credit card companies often in a similar vein. It's always mystified me the enormous $ these marketers spend trying to acquire me as a customer, then the apparent complete indifference once they have me.

  7. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), July 23, 2010 at 4:04 p.m.

    The problem is that nearly all vendors - for products or services - see:

    - Customers as indistinguishable sheep to be sheared
    - Employees as too-expensive interchangeable units.

    Your dedicated customer care rep FEELS expensive to the company, but is more cost-effective. Your encounters are short and very productive. The alternative, imposed on regular customers, is to pay additional staff to spend endless hours on the phone frustrating customers as they try to establish context and then sell the wrong solution.

    You've already mentioned the churn factor. That works both ways - you stay with the carrier because you're happy; the rep stays with the carrier because their job is satisfying - solve problems to sustain relationships with happy customers, not endure hours of invective from frustrated soon-to-be-former customers who were and will remain strangers.

    There are humans at both ends of the wire, not just in the executive suite.

  8. Helen Oster from Adorama Camera, July 25, 2010 at 5:05 a.m.

    @fj rich: while we aren't a communications company, since 2007 we have been connecting proactively with Adorama Camera customers anywhere they make mention across the entire web and across the globe.

    This wouldn't have been possible without the Internet!

    A search for 'Helen Oster Adorama Camera' - will give you an idea of how we tackle customer service via social media; not merely as Added Value but as an integral part of our service to all Adorama customers.

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