Yesterday’s Customer Service

I want to talk about customer service, mostly by way of the intercept or follow-up survey.

Here’s the briefest of rundowns:

TiVo – Scheduling a show @
AT&T – Making a purchase @ the AT&T Store (iPhone 3G)
The AJC – Direct selling from a sweaty college kid

The first intercept of yesterday:

I was just trying to schedule an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives featuring Atlanta’s own The Highlander and starring some of Jenn’s co-workers. choked a bit on the fact that I tried to do this without logging in first, but other than that, online scheduling works as expected.

Survey was over-long (4 sections of about 10 questions each) but very thorough. I would have loved it if some of my history had been cookied to avoid having to answer questions about what I did, but getting at the “why” and “how good/bad was it” necessitates tracking, albeit self-reported. recently got a redesign, but the self-help and schedule are still top notch. My one complaint: human-readable URLs.

So I give TiVo credit for getting a ton of information from me, but they could have done it a little more efficiently. Plus, since I had to login to complete my transaction (not the survey), why not offer me an incentive for completing the survey?

Minor quibbles. TiVo is great and they really seem to want to get better where possible.

The second intercept of yesterday: AT&T

Jenn & I finally broke down/came to our senses and ordered 3G iPhones via direct fulfillment (versus cold-calling AT&T stores checking for deliveries, as we were advised by AT&T) on Saturday.

Automated phone call from 912 area code. Bad reception. Numerical selection-driven.

Total time on phone: roughly 5 minutes.

Comments left via recording: 2

Highlights: Giving AT&T high(ish) marks for their cell coverage. This was the reason I gave for favorably suggesting AT&T to others. That and the iPhone.

Lowlights: I gave the behind-the-counter customer service person low(ish) marks because:

  • She swapped my mobile number w/ my wife’s
  • She failed to explain the pricing structure of iPhone 3G service
  • I caveated this in my msg as only a potential shortcoming since we’ll likely be given a more thorough walk-through when the phones arrive and are activated. Still, I suggested that she could have offered literature.

  • She was a little amused during our transaction
  • She was courteous and quick but had a case of the giggles, which is fine, but there were multiple occasions where she called me Mr. Black (I was buying the black iPhone) and she had some trouble keeping the process correct in her head.

    Always a pleasure to work with someone in a good mood, but she was borderline scatter-brained and I thought it bore mentioning.

Additionally, I bitched about the availability of iPhone 3G specifically as it regards what I consider to be bad/mis information about how I should go about acquiring one having missed the initial Day One window. It’s a good reminder to always deal with an actual customer service person and not the guy taking names at the door.

I also made sure to note, to myself, that AT&T seems very interested in feedback and information. Much more so than BellSouth Wireless or Cingular ever were.

Which is not to say I enjoy AT&T. They’re like the crazy ex-girlfriend who won’t stop calling. Plus, their billing and personal service aren’t really any better than their previous two incarnations, they just send more mail/email/voicemall.

But at least they care enough to let me know they want feedback and I rarely, if ever, refuse such requests. As someone in Marketing (transitioning to Customer Relationship Management via Social Networking; see previous post) I realize you’re always sending some kind of message and communicating with your audience/constituency/customers. Happy to help them better serve me.

It could have been a better call if:

They’d called my mobile phone
They’d called sometime other than after dinner
They’d called on a better line themselves
They’d identified themselves via caller ID

The third intercept of yesterday: AJC

I don’t take the paper. Never have. Never will.

I truly respect journalists, having a degree in the field myself and having worked for a paper (The Red & Black – no laughing) while in college, but I don’t read enough of it, I don’t think, to justify paying for it.

My media use is disjointed and haphazard at best.

I sometimes the cable news channels.
I never watch network news.
I visit, but only rarely.
I read blogs A TON, but I’m not a deep-linker; I skim

More often than not I see some opinion articles, read a few political blog posts or follow what BoingBoing & Kottke are linking, but little else.

I do some deep-diving, but not on a general interest level.

I follow UGA Football news, Entertainment industry news (like Variety for the TV part of my job and NewTeeVee for the broadband part of my job) but mostly my peers (both work and social) drive my interest.

Anyhow, I’m babbling.

Dear AJC,

Sending out a sweaty college kid in the late July heat into a neighborhood which prominently displays a “No Soliciting” sign out front is not a winning proposition.

Sure, I take your quarterly free weekend edition – for coupons and sports and leisure and comics – and I read you online – sporadically for blogs or opinion, but I’m not a pay-per-view person.

Christian is great, but I only read him when he tells me to. 😉

Anyhow, door-to-door seems as 19th Century as a paper-based paper does. Had I gotten your site intercept or other digital communique, maybe I’d feel differently.

I read your free local competitor, but only there blogs and I only take their hard copy for This Modern World.



So there you have it. Three opportunities to solicit feedback (really just two), three places to market and learn and communicate and my reactions to all three.

Not sure if this little exercise had a point, since I clearly love TiVo, abide AT&T and am ambivalent to AJC, but I thought it worth capturing my thoughts.

How can your company (or mine, for that matter) do a better job serving you?

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