Customer Experience Success Story at AT&T

Customers view service relative to their expectations. 

  • Good service meets expectations.
  • Poor service falls short of expectations.
  • Outstanding service exceeds expectations.

Here’s an email I received from my friend Larry. He expected to receive poor service from AT&T, but was pleasantly surprised in several ways.

Hey Jeff,

I wanted to share a GREAT customer service experience with you.

While I was out of town this weekend there was a power outage and I thought I lost my internet modem. I have not always had the best of luck when dealing with AT&T and am quick to say it. But I want to also be quick to point out my good experience.

First, I went to the local store. I got there about 15 min before they opened at noon. The parking lot was packed and there was a line at the door. 

When the door opened at noon, it was an amazing sight…there were a ton of employees inside and everyone who came in the door was immediately greeted and helped. No waiting at all. This caught my attention in a positive way.

I was met by a young lady who took me to a table and I explained my problem. We trouble shot the modem and immediately determined that it wasn’t the modem, but the power cord. We got the cord from another new piece of equipment and everything worked just fine. 

A power supply costs $10. A new modem costs $100. I asked for the $10 option. 

Initially she suggested we order one and I could have it come to my house or to the store and pick it up. She was unable to find the part # for the cord, and went to ask for help finding it. 

After a few minutes, she came back and I asked if there was a cord in the store I could borrow or rent for a few days until it arrived. She didn’t object and tried to order the cord for me. After another couple minutes, she just took my broken power cord and replaced it with the working one from the new modem box without charging me and said they will fix it on their side because she could not order a new one.

This is a great example of a front line employee taking the initiative and going above and beyond to FIX a customer issue. Instead of being without internet for several days or having to unnecessarily purchase a new piece of equipment. I was out of service for a couple hours and left a very satisfied customer who wanted to share that experience.

I am also sharing this on FB.

~ Larry

Notice how expectations played a role in Larry’s experience.

Larry’s initially low expectations made it easier for him to be pleasantly surprised by good service.

He was worried about wait times when he saw the large crowd. Excellent staffing levels allowed Larry to receive service much faster than he expected. 

Larry expected to pay for the repair. The associate took the initiative to find a solution she was empowered to deliver and gave Larry a replacement power cord at no charge.

These pleasant surprises prompted Larry to share his experience with AT&T on Facebook and with me. It all came down to one customer, at one store, served by one associate.

AT&T promises smart, friendly, and fast service at their AT&T stores. It sounds like they delivered. Here's a video describing the promised customer experience:

The roof, the roof, the roof has been postponed...

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the difficulty I was having finding a roofer. By the end of the 'story' I settled on the company I call 'Roofer D' because he seemed to be moderately reliable. That was then...


Signs of Trouble

Roofer D emailed a contract to me shortly after I confirmed I wanted to move forward with his company. I signed the contract and emailed it back but then noticed a second email in my inbox. This email was asking for a 10% deposit to initiate the job, even though the contract stated the terms were full payment on completion. Perhaps this was a minor oversight, so I allowed Roofer D to revise the contract. The new contract included a 10% deposit, 50% upon delivery of materials and setting up the scaffolding, and the balance upon completion. I wasn't happy with these changing expectations, but I was eager to move forward so I signed.

Rain Delay

We set a start date for February 27, but there were heavy rains the week before, so I got a call from Roofer D on February 26 asking to postpone the job until March 5. I appreciated the call and I had told him beforehand that it wasn't a big emergency so I agreed to the new start date. Then, on February 27, I got another call from him, this time asking to extend the date until March 12. "OK," I said, "but this has to be the date." He agreed the date wouldn't change again.

Lessons Learned

I had low expectations going in, not having heard too many good stories about customer service from roofers. In this case, it's been all about simple expectations that haven't quite been met. I'll reserve judgement until the job is completed, but I wonder if Roofer D realizes the impact this job may have on future business. Consider the following ways I might promote and refer Roofer D or proclaim his ineptitude and poor business dealings, all dependant on how this story turns out.

  • I do have a blog, and up to 3 people read it each and every week. I'm planning to name Roofer D upon completion of the job. One of you three people may have a roof of your own that needs help someday.
  • There are all sorts of websites where you can provide feedback on local services like this, including Kudzu and ImproveNet.
  • I have friends with roofs too. (For some reason, my friends aren't among the 3 people who read my blog. Ouch.) We often give each other referrals on these types of services.