Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Customer Service

This is really going to surprise you ... we have a lot of cell phones at our house.  As my son would say, we have "an official crapton" ... My wife and I both have Droids (woot!), and the four older boys all have cells.  We use Verizon's Family Share plan, but that only covers 5 lines (2+4 = 6), so Ethan's phone was on my parent's Family Share plan.  In case you missed it, though, we added a foster kid last week.  And, we're paying more for our landline now than we are per cell phone.  That makes two more lines we needed to add. 

In case life wasn't complicated enough, though, add to the mix Adam's phone breaking, getting swapped out for an old one, getting repaired, and needing to get swapped back.  Plus, we need to add Jory wanting a new phone number because his ex-girlfriend won't stop calling him and bugging him.  AND Julian sacrificed his planned upgrade last month so I could get my droid, so it's time to fix that for him.

Got that straight?  Welcome to life with 9 kids.

So, it started Monday with a call to Verizon.  They were able to set us up with a "sub account" which is basically a second account, without the credit check, linked back to the first account.  We got two new Envy Touch phones to put there (the second one was "free" with purchase of the first).  They said to take care of the rest once the phones were in our hands and the accounts were created.  I took the intervening two days to download and create a spreadsheet of our usage for the last several months to see what the best combination of people was so we could minimize our minutes on both accounts.  Turns out we NEED unlimited texting, but with the right combination of people, we can reduce both plans down to their 700 minute minimum.

So, when the phones arrived last night, it was an official "Phone Zoo".  I had 7 phones in my hands for 6 lines, plus my phone which I was using to make the call.  Two of the phones weren't activated at all, and one technically belonged to my father.

Here's what we needed to do:  We wanted to move Jory's phone (4 year old flip phone which he loves) to one of the new #'s, take his old phone # for the house on the phone Adam has been using as a replacement.  Adam gets his old phone back.  We then wanted to move Julian's current phone to Topher's new number, and the envy's to Ethan and Julian on their existing numbers.  Then, we needed to move Ethan's phone off of my father's contract and onto one of ours.  Then, move my phone over to the new account (without interrupting my "new every two" service date, which is coming up!) where I would now share minutes with Julian, Ethan, and Topher (some of which moved as well).  That leaves Adam, Jory, and the House on the existing contract with Christina (who now starts getting a "new every two" discount for the second account).

Clear as mud, right?

I spent an hour on the phone with a very patient Verizon customer service rep, who was frustrated herself because their computer system only lets her make 5 changes per transaction.  She was patient when the phones refused to activate automatically by dialing *228, and walked me through programming each one by hand.  She was patient when I got lost trying to map physical phones to phone numbers, when I made test calls on the wrong phone, and when we got disconnected (she called me back).  She made suggestions on what order to do things both so her computer system could handle it and so we'd keep organized.  She talked about kids, phones, and Droids (she has the Motorola Droid herself), and made things comfortable during the downtime while phones were waiting to go through the computer system.  Overall, she handled the situation with poise and grace, and kept me smiling the whole time.

She reminded me why I have Verizon.  I may get frustrated with their technical support, but their customer support team has come through for me every time!

Cell phones may or may not be essential to survival, but good customer support experiences definately are!

        aka: goofdad

And yes, I know I'm on contract ... so "free" phones are not "free" ... TANSTAAFL, but it makes everyone happy to think the phone was free.


jennifer said...

This makes me wistful...that my dad was not more of a visionary. He worked in the telephone business, and back in the 1970s he had a big old car phone in his company Olds. It didn't work very well becuase there were no satellites, but we kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. Then, when cell phones started to come about, my dad failed to invest in them because he couldn't imagine anyone wanting to make phone calls 24/7 from wherever they were. OMG!!!!!! Ever miss an opportunity?!! Glad your Verizon customer rep was nice. That does make all the difference.

goofdad said...

Oddly, I'm with your dad in that I still can't imagine it. Truth is I hate that aspect of my phone ... I often refer to it as my "leash". Much to my kids chagrin, I occasionally turn my phone off *gasp*!

I probably would have invested, givet the chance, because I know I'm strange...but I agree with your dad even so.

S. K. said...

You know...I could never see myself linked up 24-7 either...but when I send your sister & Marjorie out the door late, she can send me a te3xt (the 3 is silent) and I can hear "ta-da--my cell ring for text, and hardly wake up. And I love texting! Who knew? it changes the way I use a phone altogether. I have a teenager in the house and I don't have to run home in case he calls after school. I can say NO from anywhere.Now that I'm rid of my landline, I don't wait for calls anymore. I actually got a longer leash for my money.

JamaGenie said...

Could you tell if the customer service rep was in the U.S.? Only ask because several years ago the Verizon call center in my town closed and most of its 800+ reps jobs sent to India. That customers who called in during the transition were hanging up and calling back until they got an American rep on the line. Just wondering if Verizon still sends its cust service calls to India.

btw, the rep who handled the changes to your service should get a medal!

Ruby said...

That’s good to know, Doug! I know it is the CSR’s job to be polite and patient with their customers, but, still I’m impressed that majority are still very consistent, and remain efficient in their duty to serve their clients well. With the amount of stress they are under every single day, it’s really quite an achievement. Thumbs up!

Ruby Chelmsford