Dear, Bob Johnson, Chief Service Officer for Sprint Nextel.
I recently had a wonderful experience at a Sprint store in Fort Lauderdale Florida. The sales person came up and asked if he could help. I explained we were looking for something to solve a problem that either included a phone that had Internet access or a WIFI hotspot for my partner. I switched from Sprint to AT&T a little over two years ago for the sole reason to have an iPhone. Before that I was a loyal Sprint customer for probably 10 years or more. Daniel Broit asked a few questions and then mostly remained quiet as I processed out loud the issues we were having the problems this would solve when I stumbled he would interject a few comments. Yes and No to clarify what the item would or would not do.
In a minute, I’ll share with you how Sprint is missing the boat on customer service and feedback but right now I want to continue with how great we were treated. Daniel was very patient about signing us up. Explaining what it would cost today but that the mail in rebate would offset it. He even filled out the rebate form for us and put it in an envelope addressed. Everything but the Stamp, which of course I had to give him a hard time about. But literally every step of the way he held our hand and made the experience of purchasing the wifi hotspot such a great experience we could not have been happier.
Until a problem occurred. Two days later after having the thing run down and kick off and have to be rebooted several times. We called customer support and they told me to do a few things. Nothing was working, this was a business trip, we needed internet so we went back to the store wanting them to maybe replace the battery or the snap on back cover which didn’t seem to fit right. Which might have explained the battery just not being held in place properly. We were waiting to talk to Daniel Broit again cause we had had such a great experience with him when a young lady offered to help cause Daniel with another customer. We started explaining the issues we were having. She immediately went into the stock answer of you have to take it to the service center. She was rude to my partner so he walked away which she chimed in that that was a good idea which only made him get more upset. Literally in less than 45 seconds she had pissed us both off. I kept trying to explain that we had only got this device 2 day earlier and …. “You’ll have to take it to the service center, How do I know it’s not working properly?” was her reply. I wanted to say to her, well the same way you knew I wanted to buy it when I whipped out my credit card 2 days earlier is how you know it cause I said so. Thankfully Daniel was right next to us and was over hearing everything that was happening. So he intervened and asked us to wait till he could assist us. He got us a new battery and a new back just in case and again sent us away very pleased with him not necessarily Sprint.
Neither one of these employees know I write a blog nor do they know I am a Business Relationship Coach who specializes in helping companies understand what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. But the fact that I live in Kansas City, where Sprint Headquarters is located and I’m buying something way across the country made the entire experience very personal. You don’t have to be from Kansas City to know that Sprint is hemorrhaging customers at a rate that seems unstoppable. I figured I would highlight one individual that Sprint has working for them who should be getting some kind of recognition. I am always about focusing on the positive of a situation. And this young man truly knows how to handle the public.
I hope that if anything comes from this article it’s that Daniel Broit gets the credit and recognition that he due. Maybe Sandra J. Price, Senior Vice President, Human Resources should be calling him in to do some training with front line service people. At the very least some VP should be sending him a hand written Thank You note for doing such an awesome job on behalf of the company.
I mentioned earlier I’d tell you how Sprint is missing the boat on customer service. What I consider the most important observation I made beyond the interactions I had with the staff was each time a customer was helped and sold an item the staff made a special request almost a plea that the person go fill out a survey about the type of service they got while they were there. However the girl who didn’t help me and was sending me away frustrated never once asked me to fill out a survey about my experience in the store. If you want to improve customer service ask for all feedback not just for positive feedback. If your only collecting information about positive exchanges then it leaves the person who had a negative experience no other choice but to go use Facebook, Twiiter, Brightkite, Foursquare, or a blog to vent their frustration with your company.
However, If your sales and customer service individuals know that they have to ask for feedback on each and every interaction they have with customers they will approach the situation differently. Before they even say Hello, how may I help you today they will be thinking strategically about solving a problem and creating customer loyalty. They will take ownership of the interaction and the customer. Isn’t that really what you want them to be doing?
Had the young lady even given me time to explain the entire situation and then politely stated that she didn’t have the authority to do anything other than refer me to the service center then I would have asked for a manager. Had the next step been that I was still told I had to follow the proper channels and go to the service center I would have at least understood they were following company policy. I would have felt like they took the time to listen. I would not have been a happy or satisfied customer but I would have understood and just been frustrated. I probably would have just returned the WIFI and gotten out of the 2 year contract which it committed me too. So really Sprint if that is standard of customer service you might want to rethink that approach. They might not have been able to fix a broken WIFI device but they could certainly refund my money.
I wonder how Dan Hesse, Chief Executive Officer of Sprint Nextel Corporation would have expected this situation to be handled? Oh and don’t let the fact that I’m still in my 30 day return policy sway your judgment. If you want to earn and keep customers treat them well all the time not just at the point of sale. That is how you increase loyalty and retain customers. Give them more than they are even expecting but most importantly listen to them.
This particular story was about Sprint but every company has it’s own star employees and not so stellar employees. How are you handling your customers? How are you getting feedback about their experience? Are you even asking for their feedback? As customers become more empowered to control the image and message about your company through social media, how are you engaging in the conversation?