I saw that my Time Warner Cable‘s Road Runner basic plan for $34.95 a month (month to month, rolled over from Adelphia, which went bust a couple of years ago) gave me about the same connection speeds as a $24.95 a month from DSL Extreme.
The main catches with DSL Extreme were:
(1) $24.95 a month pricing is with a 1 year contract (I’m on a month to month with TWC)
(2) $14.95 one time charge for a DSL modem if you don’t have your own
Given that I’m mostly satisfied with TWC’s cable internet service, I decided to call their customer rep to see if they offer long time customers some kind of a deal. With the economy the way it is, I’d do what I can to keep customers I already have, wouldn’t you?
So I figured, a big company like Time Warner should have some type of a deal, or if they don’t, at least I’ll hear some creative reasons about why a higher price is justified.
After typing in my phone number, I got a customer service rep, who identified herself as “Elizabeth”, who asked me for my phone number anyway. Fine, you can’t be too careful verifying information these days. I gave my name, address, last 4 digits of social security number.
I confirmed that I’m indeed on a month to month contract, so I can quit being their customer anytime. I told Elizabeth that I’m looking to sign on with a different internet provider, considering I’m getting the same service speed at $10 less than I am currently paying with Time Warner Cable Road Runner Basic plan.
She told me:
- what plan I am currently on (something I know already),
- what higher pricing plans are available (something I’m not interested in), and
- a lower pricing plan with a slower connection speed (something I don’t want)
I thought I had mis-heard, or mis-understood, or simply missed a whole bunch of words that surely would have answered my very simple question.
So I repeated myself, and asked Elizabeth:
“I can get the same level of service from DSL Extreme that I am getting from Time Warner Cable, but pay $10 less than what I’m paying your company. What do you offer for long time customers that keep me wanting to stick with your company?”
When Elizabeth repeated what she originally told me, I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. It was the least I could do before launching into mean-Jane-mode and telling her what I REALLY think.
For those of you who interact with customers – whether you’re the owner or you’re an owner who have service reps who talk with your customers – please learn from Elizabeth! This is WHAT NOT TO DO when speaking with a customer.
I could have gotten the same information from an automated helpline that I got from Elizabeth, with much less frustration. At least with a machine, I know its limitations. With a human being, I expect someone who isn’t delivering a script verbatim as a non-response to a simple question.
I’m not saying my question was easy to answer, but it is a very simple question:
“Why should I stay with you? Why should I keep paying you to get the same thing I can get elsewhere for less? Tell me your @#$% value proposition!” (p.s. the expletive is silent)
Customers are looking for customer service with a human being, not a parrot service delivered by a human being.
If you’re a small business owner, you can take my experience and learn that great customer service will include giving your customers:
- What they don’t know
- What they are interested in
- What they want
Image: Bird in a Box picture by Sarah Williams