I am writing this while on hold with Verizon. I’m curious. Can I actually compose an entire post while trying to resolve the problem of my miraculously slow Internet service? At the moment I’m furiously scribbling in the margins of a brochure that proclaims the attributes of Verizon’s blazing speed.
I’ve been through the menu, have actually reached a person, but am now back on hold. The digital reader on my phone screen ticks away the wasted seconds in its relentless determination to diminish whatever remaining faith I have in Verizon.
The heinous piano music playing in the background doesn’t quite qualify as a genre, though if I had to give it a label it would be jazzak. Seems someone had the idea that if you play the most amorphous music imaginable a person on hold might stay calm. Conceptually that makes sense. But given that there’s steam coming out of my ears while the veins in my neck bulge in time to the unavoidable beat of the music, I believe that the UX person has failed in his or her ability to truly understand what motivates customers.
Speaking of UX, are you ready for this? One of the reasons I’m on hold at 10 minutes and 43 seconds of my call is that following the computer generated questions that wanted to know what language I speak and the nature of my problem (all of which I had to repeat when I eventually got to a real person) the real person I eventually got to just this moment transferred me to a second real person.
Why did he do that? Here’s why. After asking me all those aforementioned questions all over again he then wanted to know my operating system. When I answered, “Mac OS,” he informed me that he couldn’t help me since he was a Microsoft person. Wouldn’t you think this would be the first question to ask? Not the last?
My new real person, the Mac guy, is now running some remote diagnostics. (Note: the problem has nothing to do with my operating system.)
Dum dee dum dee dum dee dum.
This is usually where I stare at the phone some more to make sure I’m still connected; my greatest fear is I have to start this process all over again.
Mac guys’ back. And what’s this? My slow service is Verizon’s fault? I’m in possession of a faulty modem! It’s always been faulty! That’s why my service at this location has never been that good? And they’ll have a new one to me tomorrow morning? Even though it’s Memorial Day? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Well I’m done. Fifteen minutes and 43 seconds. Actually that’s not as bad as it could have been. Then again, who wants to give up 15 minutes of their Sunday evening on the phone with their Internet provider.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Verizon. I use their online service, their wireless service and can’t wait for their alternative to AT&T as an iPhone provider. And in their defense, I have to say the individual techs on the phone were more than supportive.
They apologized for the problems and seemed determined to make things better. In fact, they did a great job. If anything, they were hampered by a system that frustrates callers before they ever reach the tech person and by questions that someone else wrote for them to follow.
This is a reminder that your employees are only as good as the systems that back them up a long with the prototyping and role-playing that helps determine how they work in real life.
To that end I’m sending Verizon’s director of user experience a copy of Tim Brown’s Change by Design. (Tim, if you are reading this, you really should help Verizon design a better user experience.) They need help with everything from the menu you have to endure to reach a person, to the music they play when you’re on hold, to the sequence of questions that doesn’t ask you which operating system you use until the very end.
Monday, May 31, 8:00 pm
Update. The modem did not arrive. Again, I think the intentions and promises of the service tech on the phone were genuine. He was imply let down by the organization behind him.
Seems to me that a Verizon could do a number of things differently. Here’s what I recommend:
1. Create a menu that gets you to a person faster.
2. Give the tech instant access to the same answers you just delivered automatically. Why make customers answer them twice?
3. Improve your problem assessment. If one’s operating system determines everything, ask about it first not last.
4. Make sure the systems in the back room and the people on the front lines are in sync. It will save you from promises you can’t keep and further disappointing customers. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.
5. Offer some form of compensation for the mistakes. If my modem has been faulty for months, then reimburse me for a portion of it that time.
I don’t know if Verizon plans to rectify the situation without my having to go through all of the above all over again. But I’m I’m not holding my breath. But at least I got a post out of the situation. Let me know what you think.
*Note this post was typed the next day and includes some basic editing of my initial scratches.
Footnote: Tuesday, June 1, 11:45 am. Believe it or not, Verizon just called me, within minutes after this post went up. Coincidental, no doubt, but credit to them for trying.