Oct 4 2006

It’s a Little Weird When Your Best Customer Experience of the Week is with the Government

It’s a Little Weird When Your Best Customer Experience of the Week is with the Government

Mariquita has been doing a lot of personal admin lately for us.  This week had a little surprise in it.

Verizon continues to be one of the most awful, painful vendors in the history of the universe.
At least their phone network is solid, since any interaction with the people at the company is so bad.  We came to the conclusion this week that they actually do some things which aren’t just the usual bad customer service or outrageous pricing — they have some policies in place that are literally designed to systematically rip off their customers.  The one we ran into was (after 45 minutes on and off hold, of course) that the data plans for Treos are prepaid for a month, but when you go to cancel your data plan, they tell you they HAVE TO cancel it the day you call, even if you have days or weeks left on your plan, and they CAN’T issue a refund for unused days.  But if you complain loudly enough, a supervisor can keep your service active through the end of your pre-pay, or can issue you a refund.  So in fact, they are telling their customer service reps to lie to their customers in the hope that their customers don’t push back so they can keep your money while not delivering your service.

She had a similarly bad experience dealing with our insurance company about car insurance.  State Farm just has a ridiculous set of procedures in place around changing car insurance that cause their customers to jump through hoops several times over for no apparent reason at all.  There have been several stupid things, but this week was needing to take a brand new car to get inspected before insuring it within three days of buying it.  But we had to take it to a specific mechanic on the “approved list” to get it inspected.  That place required an appointment (which meant two trips).  It couldn’t be done at the dealer.  Then the actual inspection lasted about 30 seconds.  Maybe they were just making sure there was an actual car, not a pretend car.  Harry Potter, beware.

And then came the surprise — Mariquita’s trip to the DMV to trade in our old license plates.  She was in and out in under 5 minutes with a prompt, efficient, friendly person handling the transaction with a smile.  Wonders never cease.

It doesn’t take a lot to be great at customer service, just the right mindset and culture.  It’s amazing that Albany (or at least a small pocket therein) seems to have figured that out before some of the biggest companies around.