I met the chief designer for Nokia at Ted. Marko is a great guy, but it was fascinating to watch the interactions he had with people. Every single person he met came up to him, pulled out a cellphone and began whining. Mostly, though, people didn’t hate their phones. They hated their carrier.
I know. I hate T Mobile.
My annoyance at my carrier didn’t decrease when I had to pay not once, but twice to buy a four day online pass to use the Net in my hotel. Sitting at the airport waiting to fly home, a few shekels left on my British phone card, I decided to take a whirl and called the hard-to-find customer service number for T Mobile, figuring I’d try to get a refund for the first $60 Net pass I purchased but that didn’t work (Hah! I thought. Hah! I can hear you thinking).
Bob Cocksedge answered my call. On the third ring. He was intelligent, thoughtful, even kind. He apologized for taking a while, using their antiquated database. He never found the purchase, but he emailed me the contact info for his manager so I can submit the transaction number once I got my credit card info at home.
You’ve already guessed the lesson. It only took Bob a few minutes. It didn’t cost T Mobile much of anything at all compared to leaving me on hold and then being rude to me. But for a tiny tiny fraction of the cost of one of those full page ads that they buy every day, T Mobile actually built their brand.
I’ve said it before–your call center is probably the single cheapest investment you can make in building your consumer or business to business brand among customers and motivated prospects.
Thanks, Bob, for reminding me.