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Published on February 29th, 2012 | by Janine Popick

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Business Lessons Learned from a Verizon Debacle

Dear Verizon,

This is an account of my last 5 days that you’ve taken from me, which I’ll never get back. I’m hoping someone in your company who cares will figure out that actually giving a customer what they ask for and/or probing them about their needs goes a long way not only in customer satisfaction but also results in really great word of mouth.

Day 1: I go into Verizon to get a new USB wifi stick to get online. The one I had magically stopped working one day even though I changed nothing. They don’t have any of these devices on the floor and sell me a mifi device that will turn my area into a wifi zone. Sounds nice; I bite and you guessed it, I need to sign up for another 2-year deal. They don’t offer me at all what I came in for.

I use it in my office, it works. I take it home and minute by minute it may or may not work. Then it just stops connecting.

Day 2: Trying but still can’t get online.

Day 3: I visit another Verizon store and tell them I want a USB wifi stick. They tell me that I need a “firmware” upgrade on the mifi device and ASSURE me it’ll work with this new upgrade which takes about a half-hour. After an hour in the shop two distinct devices get online at the same time in front of me using my device. Again, I bite. Smoke and mirrors.

I take it home and it works, for 10 minutes, then I can’t get online.

Day 4: I go back to the Verizon store where I bought it, and tell them I want a USB wifi stick. They tell me that I can get one, ONLY if it’s within the 14-day window, and there will be a $35 restocking fee for each, one for me and one for my husband.

They give me the packaging and off I go. I get home to find out that I need to install the new software with a CD (hello 90s!). Good guess! I have a MacBook Air – no CD drive.

Day 5: I get to work to get online and look for an hour on the Verizon site for the downloadable driver for the Mac so that I can get my USB device to work. No can find. I start a chat with a rep:

jp: Can you tell me where I can download the drivers for the Mac USB drive? I don’t have a CD drive.
Verizon: Can you give me your account number?
jp; No, I just need the link, can’t find it on your site.
Verizon: Can you give me your first and last name and last 4 digits of your social?
jp: For what? I want a LINK.
Verizon: (sends me the link to a PDF download of how the product works.)
Verizon: I can get you to support so they can send you a CD-ROM.
jp: Um, I HAVE A CD BUT NOTHING TO PUT IT INTO!
Verizon: Sorry this is sales, you need a support rep.
jp: Virtual hang up.

Still Day 5: I go to my wonderful tech support folks here at my email marketing company VerticalResponse who take the CD and put the software on a thumb drive. I install the software and I’m online.

Am I happy? No, I’m furious and telling the world because Verizon just took hours of my life away from me and for no good reason. Fail on one step of the way? I’ll forgive. But they failed on each and every step of my experience.

4 Lessons Learned

1. Ask the customer what they’ll be using your products for so you’ll know better how best to serve them. The product they sold me, will give them more money in the long run since it supports 3 devices. More devices = more data to download = more revenue for the big V. They weren’t interested in what I needed to buy but what they needed to sell.

2. Don’t let someone walk out your door knowing that your product might not work.

3. TELL the customer all they’ll need to know. If they need to download software, tell them that and let them know how. If they need to dry clean only or keep your product out of the sun, tell them. The more information your customers have the better and they’ll come in to buy more, not come in to yell at you.

4. Route your customers to the proper place and make it easy for them to get your information. A “chat” button on a site infers that my questions will be answered by the proper people.

Your customer for another 2 freaking years,

Janine

© 2012, Janine Popick. All rights reserved.

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