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August 16, 2005

An Empowered Employee at SBC

We received a notice in the mail today confirming the new DSL service for our office. For only $44.99 a month, we would be connected to the "Pro" speed DSL service. There was only one problem, we had signed up for service at $36.99.

Our DSL activation with SBC has been a circus. We called before our move in, stating that we would be assuming occupancy at the first of the month, and that the existing tenants of the space should not be disturbed. The next day we receive a call from the existing tenants, the SBC tech was there to hook up phone service- as if it was even remotely possible to have service hooked up the day following one's call.

When we were ready to move into the space, our original appointment did not show up in the system, and the activation for our phone and internet service had been pushed back. This required several calls to SBC, which did not result in the usual greeting and promise of, "how can I provide you with excellent service today."

There were some bright spots in our dealings with SBC however. The tech that was eventually dispatched was excellent. He hooked up all of our jacks and configured our phones, and without charging us the standard per jack fee that would have amounted to hundreds of dollars.

This brings me back to today’s notice. When I called SBC to inquire about the bill, the representative, Steve, checked the account. Despite the fact that the account was still pending, and he could not make changes today, he said he would make a note and take the appropriate steps to fix the problem.

Wrapping up the call, we got to talking about the process of DSL activation. That’s when Steve offered to credit me for a month because of the difficulty we had with the process. That was a great gesture, and I appreciated it given all the problems we had. When I compare this experience with the sequence of indifference and denials I faced speaking with Nextel representatives, it is clear the value of empowered employees, especially in large organizations.

It’s not that we never receive complaints concerning customer service. We recently received a complaint from a customer with a concern about his bill. The customer was a valued client, and rather than argue over billing, we just told him to pay what he thought was a fair price for the work we completed. Again, to do this, employees need to be empowered to think and make decisions, rather than just blindly follow policies or procedures.

Posted by Michael O'Connell at August 16, 2005 09:02 PM


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