Today I faced with a reality of being a tiny customer for a giant company that does not care enough to get the feedback on how they can improve their service and make their customers love them more. It happens very rare when I blog about a user experience from my personal experiences, but I had to devote a post for that as not only my customer dignity was lost, but my professional advice was disregarded.
I truly believe that T-mobile marketing folks would appreciate some feedback from the actual customers coming to them directly, perhaps even in a form of a packaged idea. Or maybe not! The worst has happened already – as a loyal customer, today I felt duped and almost helpless. I was trying hard to deliver my feedback through the customer service rep and she kept on repeating that no one is going to care about my suggestions. I guess in the worlds of giant corporations a tiny customer‘s voice is just a nuisance. I have to use my blog for that as there is no other channel that exists that can provide that kind of a feedback for them. The rep confirmed that my feedback is useless and no one is going to check and she has no way to pass my suggestions through. I just have to deal with it! On the other hand, it made me think a lot about how much does a brand value matter to the fellow marketers at T-mobile in relation to one but still an eye opening experience from an average customer? Thus, the purpose of this post is not to bash the brand, but to try to deliver my feedback to the folks that can make a difference in the customer experience. Or not, as they can always disregard it. And lose me and lose a few more of the customers like me one by one.
So, I went back to the corporate site and I had a hard time finding a mission statement with the values! I guess, the assumption that the customer is right and important was my imaginary assumption. The company never made a promise to serve me well. That does not help.
I always did not pay much attention to the ads that show how big telecommunication companies treat their customers as opposing to the emerging internet-based providers. Heck, as a customer I was quite irrational while making a choice who is going to be my cellular carrier. I just liked Katherine Zeta-Jones and the coverage seemed to be national, so I chose T-mobile. Very typical irrational, but short-cut based decision. Now, having experienced the reality, I think twice who I should have chosen. Going back to the commercials, I never related till today to the jokes that are played on major carriers with multiple rules. In fact, I was ok to comply to those rules as I always felt I will be heard – till today! As an example, Vonage has a great piece of an ad that makes fun of the giant communications providers. It is pretty new and only available on TV. Other examples include the following videos.
Now, I am thinking about switching to Alltel, who cares about $200 cancelation fee when they never notify me on the overage and I might as well save the trouble?
My complete T-mobile user experience story
To depict the situation better, here is my actual description of the experience as a T-mobile loyal customer. The customer that was not cared for…
Yesterday, I renewed my contract with T-mobile and felt pretty happy to get a new phone and play with it. As a user I had positive feelings about the brand. Today, I could not understand why my phone was so silent till I realized that my service was suspended due to overages of $150. Ok. Could T-mobile notify me with a text message prior to my overage or even prior to suspending my service when I lost an ability to connect to my clients and lost $$? How do I know about the overage? I never check my minutes as a user! Do you ever check you minutes on the cell phone? I never do. In fact I care less. I have yet to meet someone who checks their minutes all the time. Yet, the customer service rep told me that it is my responsibility and they care less about it. Ok, I might have talked too much on the phone this month and the past month and I am ok to pay the overage and I am ok to switch to the more minutes plan. But, there is no way that the T-mobile can devise a program, can create an automated text messaging system to people when they go over their minutes! There is no way it can happen and there is no way to suggest this idea to the customer service to pass along to marketers! I felt as if I was speaking gibberish and the customer rep could not understand my suggestion and passion behind passing the idea how they can still keep my loyalty as a customer if they make those changes – create either email or a text message system that notifies me about the minutes and overage before I have to pay $200. I can pay that, money is not a problem these days – but it appears that T-mobile would rather charge me overages all the time and let me know explicitly that I have to check my minutes! I do not want to check my minutes. I have no time in my life to do that. Why not you as a brand and as a service provider – make it easy for me to be loyal to you? Why not you prevent a trouble of overpaying for me for cell phone usage and notify me about the overages with a text message? How costly is that? Cheaper than a commercial! Or even a customer service call! And I will keep being your customer longer than a contract! Now, I am seriously thinking of switching. I feel cheated. I do not care. I am not loyal any more because you felt that it is ok to keep me in the dark and ignoring my suggestions! Pursuing the lock-ip strategy is not a long term strategy that insures success. At some point, your customers and your competition will figure out how to get away from this bad relationship. Do you care as a brand? Or you don’t?
My suggestions to T-mobile marketing folks:
1. Listen to your customers – create a channel where they can share their suggestions before you lost them!
2. Make it easy for them to be loyal to you! Create an automated communication program (text message or email that notifies your customers about overages beforehand)! Or keep collecting the short-term profit of an overage and lose a lifetime value of steady income.
3. Make sure your customer service rep communicates the customer voice to you directly.