Archives for June 2007

Alltel: A tale of two customer service reps

Early last month I made a business trip to New Orleans. While there I made several hours of phone calls. I thought I had nationwide no roaming. Imagine my surprise when my bill showed up with over $180 in roaming fees!

My first call to Alltel nearly made me switch to Verizon. I can’t remember the name of the customer service rep that I talked to, but it went a little like this:

CR: Thank you for calling Alltel. How may I help you today?

ME: I have a few questions on my bill this month.

CR: Ok, can I get your name.

ME: My name is…

CR: Can you give me the name of the account holder?

ME: [my wifes name]

CR: Is your wife with you?

ME: No.

CR: Since the account is in her name, I can’t discuss the bill with you without having her permission. Is there a number we can call her at?

ME: She’s at work, so no.

CR: Well, maybe we can discuss the bill if you read it to me.

ME: OK. [reads bill]

CR: I see. That’s very unfortunate.

ME: Is there any thing we can do about the charges?

CR: No sir. There is nothing we can do about charges that have been billed already. We can change your plan so that it doesn’t happen again.

ME: No thanks. I only travel once a year so it wouldn’t do me much good.

CR: Have I answered all your questions? Do you have any more?

ME: You didn’t answer the ones I gave you, and I don’t have anymore.

CR: I didn’t answer your questions?

ME: No. You said that you can’t. Goodbye.

CR: Goodbye sir. Thank you for calling Alltel

I don’t have to explain to you why I almost switched services right then and there. Of course, without having access to the account, I couldn’t disconnect it so I had to wait anyways.

After some thought and a little research, I decided to stay with Alltel. I needed a new phone though, so I had my wife call to add my name to the account.

Yesterday, I called back to get a phone upgrade and set up a payment plan for the extra charges. What I got was one of the most pleasant interactions with a customer service rep I’ve ever had. I never asked for anything, and what I got was spectacular. Her name was Holly.

ME: I have some questions on my bill.

HOLLY: Yes sir. I see why you might have questions.

ME: Yeah. Seems I racked up some roaming charges last month.

HOLLY: I see you’ve been with us since 2003. Let me see if we can get rid of some of those fees by rerating the minutes under a different plan or as a courtesy for a long time customer.

ME: [taken by surprise] Ok. Yeah, sure.

HOLLY: If we change your plan to [nationwide roaming plan] we can backdate it and rerate the roaming minutes. Any that would have been free under the plan will go away.

ME: OK.

HOLLY: I was able to rerate all of the minutes so your bill is $[XX.XX].

ME: That’s spectacular. I also need new phones. That’s why I called.

HOLLY: Sure. We can upgrade both phones today if you like.

I won’t go through each and every line after that. It was the first part that was most important. I called with intentions of asking if I could make payments on my bill and Holly took it upon herself to try and save a long term customer some money. She succeeded in reducing my bill by over $180, or almost the exact amount of the roaming charges. She even threw in free overnight shipping on the new phones. It took her about 30 minutes to do all of that. What she succeeded in doing is making a long term customer happy. After she fixed the bill, I got new phones which makes me a customer for at least another two years. Alltel lost $180 in roaming charges but because of Holly’s actions, they get about $1680 in monthly subscription fees for the next two years while I’m under contract. That’s a difference of $1500.

Maybe Holly deserves a bonus or a promotion? I certainly think so. She did an amazing job and I can only assume that she does similar things each and every day. If she works 8 hours and helps 5 customers like me in that 8 hours, she makes the company $7500 a day. And I bet she gets more than 5 phone calls from customers that could use a little help. Maybe she can’t help all of them, but I bet she makes the company over $25,000 a week.

So, Holly, if you’re reading this, Thank You! I hope you get paid on commission. You deserve to be.

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Does Om know?

Daily OM

Om Daily

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Why the iPhone will succeed

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis will know that I’m no Apple fan. And in truth, I am not. I’m amazed by the cult-like following that the iPod has and can’t see why anyone would pay over $120 for a share of Apple. Further, I really can’t see myself ever wanting an iPhone. It just doesn’t appeal to me.

Fortunately for all you Apple fans out there, I probably won’t make or break the iPhone. In fact, I don’t think the iPhone can be broken. It is the veritable Superman of cell phones. Twenty years from now you’ll all be clamoring to pick up one of the damn things as a collectible (yet usable) cell phone for your collection. They’ll still get 500+ hours of standby and a couple of hours of talk time. They’ll still be as shiny as the day they were born.

All sarcasm aside, the iPhone has the makings of the major technology hit of the year and possibly the decade. Steve Jobs and CO have managed to bring innovation to the cell phone market much like they did to the personal music player. It’s got innovation oozing out of it’s headphone port it’s got so much innovation. Well, that and it has the power of darn near every one of the current iPod owners wanting one.

It’s got an innovative keyless GUI that should work. Some will miss the keypad, but most who buy it will adapt rather easily. Of course, it wouldn’t be a innovative GUI without having some pretty good resolution and color. And if you’re represented by a “cool dude” that makes a mock turtle-neck look good, you can’t help but get some extra karma points.

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Incriminating evidence

Go here. Talk about getting caught red handed. Er. Red Iced?