Originally Published 06/13/2012
Even if Fred couldn’t care less, his job should be to make me think there isn’t anything more important to him in the world, at least while we're on the phone together. That's what happened with Carol, and she earned my undying personal gratitude and boatloads of corporate loyalty for her employer,
So I had a very unique experience last month. Way back in January I discovered that I could earn additional cash back points for automatically paying my Sprint cell phone bill with my Discover card. Setting up my automatic bill pay, I thought was relatively easy. Sprint sent me an email explaining that bill pay would take a month to kick-in, so it wouldn't be until February that I would have the convenience of the service.
Well, sure enough when I got my February e-bill from Sprint they informed me that my automatic payment would take place the day before my bill was due. Now, I happen to be one of those people who pay all of their bills on time, and I regularly check my bank account to make sure things are set to be paid. In this case I trusted Sprint had it all under control. However, a few days before my bill's due date I received a bill reminder email from Sprint, and this one didn't mention the fact that automatic bill pay was set up to pay my bill the day before it was due. So, the trust I had in Sprint began to fade.
At the end of the day when the first automatic bill payment was to be made I monitored my online Sprint bill to see if my payment status would change. I also monitored my Discover card transactions to see if my Sprint payment would post. Nothing. The next day, the day my Sprint bill was due, I did the same thing. Again nothing. A few minutes before midnight I made a manual payment using my Discover card to avoid any late fees (according to the language on my bill), which overrode my automatic payment setup.
When I received my March Sprint bill I once again set up automatic bill pay using my Discover card, thinking that perhaps I’d done something wrong back in January. Once again I waited one month for the service to kick in, received my first bill with auto payment the day before the due date, and went through the whole ridiculous process just like before only to wind up paying manually to avoid those late fees.
In May I decide to call Discover’s customer service and see if they can help me successfully sign up for the service. While it does take transferring me twice, each time after confirming my personal and card information and then explaining my situation, which makes three times in total, I am at least directed to the appropriate person. She explains that the automatic payment process is initiated through Sprint and not Discover, so it’s not something that Discover can fix for me.
Now, I'm exasperated, frustrated, and pretty darn angry, but this woman, we’ll call her Carol, is a consummate customer service professional and she delivers the best customer experience I have ever received from just about any company when I have been at the point of giving up all hope. Here’s what she does:
Now, on the other end of the experience there is Sprint, where the initial agent that Carol speaks with hangs up on her—not on purpose, but still. The agent that we eventually deal with, let’s call him Fred, is an okay guy, but he is no Carol. He's knowledgeable and does impart two very interesting pieces of information, namely:
Now, I don’t blame Fred for what are clearly flaws in Sprint’s automatic payment process system and customer communications. Unless he designed the system and the communications, he's in the clear. However, where Fred really falls short is in not understanding my value as a customer to his company.
I am a customer who has gone to considerable lengths to sign up for a service that guarantees his employer on-time monthly payment of my bills. As an agent of this company, I would expect Fred to be more motivated to both help me and make up for the inconvenience I have suffered through no fault of my own by offering to assist me in reactivating my automatic bill pay or forwarding my feedback and experience with this service to the appropriate areas of the company. Fred does neither. Now, I understand that he may not be able to reactivate my automatic bill pay, but he can collect my feedback and he can also offer to compensate me for my troubles in some way. Even more importantly, throughout our time together, I expect Fred to treat me with respect, which I think is the very least he can do.
So, I guess I’m disappointed Fred isn’t smart enough to understand all this and take appropriate action. Because, let’s face it, even if Fred himself couldn’t care less about my Sprint automatic payment experience or me, his job should be to make me think there isn’t anything more important to him in the world, at least while we're on the phone together. After all, that's exactly what happened with Carol, and in the process she earned my undying personal gratitude and boatloads of corporate loyalty for her employer, Discover—and, that’s the point of delivering great customer service, even when, or rather, especially when you can’t solve your customers’ problems.
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Get Growing is a syndicated business. blog. Many posts are also published on business2community.com.