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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Creation vs. evolution

It seems that the debate continues. (will it ever end?) Gallup released some numbers on a poll of Americans on the topic of Creation vs. Evolution. Guess what. It’s not as lopsided as you might think.

Some highlights. 7 in 10 Republicans believe in Creation. (Not exactly a surprise.) Nearly 40% believe that man developed with God’s help. Another 45% believe that God created man in it’s current form. Taken together, that’s 85% that believe God has a hand in it.

So, the question I pose to you is “why aren’t we allowed to teach creationism in schools”? Especially when nearly 50% of the people surveyed believe that the Creation story is true? If 50% of scientists believed that Gold came from leprechauns, you can bet it would get a mention in a textbook.

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I prefer not to answer

I like making money. I’m working on making as much as I can from my online ventures. One way that I have/do use(d) is online surveys. I’ve tried a few of the different places and they all are about the same.

One thing I’ve begun to notice when I’m filling out those surveys is that they always ask what race I am. Why does that matter? If I don’t answer properly do I have to take the “colored” survey? (I’m white, so if that last sentence is insensitive, I apologize.) At first, I would always be a good little survey taker and answer “White/Caucasian.” Now? Not so much. I don’t like the idea of my race being a factor in the results of my survey.

I prefer not to answer. Nearly all of the surveys have the option to not answer. I click it. If some pr exec in NY wants to make money off of my survey I’m ok with it. If he/she wants to sell it for more because I’m this race or that race and I’m not ok with it.

What about you? Do you answer those questions? Will you now? I prefer not to answer…

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Breaking: Digg is too Bigg

Back in the day, when someone overstepped their bounds, someone would say that they had become “too big for their britches.” I bring that up because I believe that Digg has gotten “too big for it’s britches.” And as a continuation, Digg founder Kevin Rose has gotten “too big for his britches.”

I can’t argue that there are some things that Digg should expand into. Video being one of them. Restaurant reviews is not one of them. Digg’s core user base are technology based. That’s because Digg started off as a tech news social site. They’ve since added numerous categories and subjects. And none of them are worth a darn. At least not in the way that the tech news section is. So why add more? If you are only truly successful in the tech area, why keep trying the others and adding to them? Why not turn back to tech and emphasize it? Why not add more categories for tech. Like video, podcasts, blogs… Embrace the tech users and don’t get greedy.

Even more importantly, tech users are the most technological advanced of the bunch. It’s obvious I would think. That’s why the tech area is so popular. Part of it anyways. The other part is the jump start that the area has had on the rest. But the others will never catch up because the user base for them is small in comparison to tech.

Add it’s over abundance of topics to it’s somewhat hazey dealings with it’s users and you might just end up with another dot com bust. You can’t betray your users by removing their posts and banning them for using your service and expect them to embrace everything you do. The fiasco surrounding the HD-DVD key caused quite the stir not too long ago. They backtracked pretty quick when the users rioted, but the fact still remains that they backed down to the lawsuit threat. If they hadn’t backtracked, however, they just might have lost the majority of their user base. The threat of that was a little more pocket book affecting than the lawsuit I guess.

The bigger Digg gets, the more people there will be to game the system. They’ll try and stop them and end up ostracizing the very people who got them started. Maybe then they’ll shrink back into their britches.

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