Saturday, May 3, 2008

Corporate Greed Killed Customer Service

Remember the last time you called a company for support and a friendly person answered the phone? We're getting to the point now where out-sourcing customer service is no longer the problem - it's automated prompts that are taking over.

Take the case of Virgin Mobile. When you call their toll free number, the phone is answered by Simone. Simone is the voice of a young "urban" woman who spits slang and always sounds like she is on the verge of laughter. I'm not sure who had the idea for this marketing disaster but I am betting it was a group of corporate suits who figured that this was just what the MTV generation wanted. Here's a question for them. When a young "urban" teen calls in for technical support, do they even want to talk to Simone? Something tells me that the rudest and goofiest sounding teenager still demands a little bit of professionalism when they are calling to get assistance with poor service.

I bought my son a Virgin Mobile phone for Christmas this year. It was a pre-paid deal. I think I am lucky because it's the most awful customer service experience I have ever paid witness to. The worst I am out, is the $100 dollars I paid for the phone and about $20 in minutes. The phone stopped working in February, and I call in every couple of weeks to get assistance. The help is always the same. "Let's reprogram your phone, and then wait four to eight hours". Now they tell me "you might want to "top up" your phone ... because your minutes have expired". But I can't even call Customer Service with this phone, or use the crippled menus on the phone to order more minutes for it. And frankly, why would I want to? You sold me a phone which only half-worked for two months and then quit. Now you want more of my money? That's not going to happen.

My next pre-paid purchase will surely be a Verizon phone, as they seem to be the lesser of all cellular evils. When you call them and get a live person (which is not very difficult) they always tell you "thank you for calling Verizon where you are our number one priority". It's a little lame, and I'll bet the customer service representatives get sick of saying that 5,000 times a day. But it's a welcome change to the alternative ... Simone spitting slang and laughing at me. I wonder how long that service will last before it's replaced with automated prompt disasters?

No comments: