And The Streak Ends At 1…

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In 1941, Joe DiMaggio (middle) set the Major League Baseball Record by gathering at least one hit in 56 consecutive games. Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

Great customer service has so much in common with a great streak. When I think of streaks, I’m reminded of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Orel Hershiser’s 59 scoreless innings streak, and Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,632 consecutive games. For you non-sports fans, I’m talking about baseball, and greatness is defined by consistency.

It was just a year ago that I had a much-improved installation experience with my ISP after many sub-par, inconsistent experiences.

Hoping to begin a streak of my own, I contacted them to upgrade my internet speed — a request I’m sure they are fielding a lot in this COVID-19 world where households with work-from-home parents and school-age children require multiple, concurrent video conferences. I think we topped out at four Zoom meetings at once the other day.

A Free Upgrade

I was so excited when the friendly agent informed me that she could increase my internet speed from 75 to 100mbps at no extra cost. All they had to do was ship me a new modem/router — again, at no extra cost to me. Heck yes, I’ll take a free upgrade!

I should note that the ability to drop the old modem off at a UPS Store along with a shipping label and my account number is wonderful. Amazon does this for returns as well and I love it.

Anyway, after swapping out my modem, I waited some time to see if my internet speed improved. When it didn’t, I logged into my account and confirmed that I was still on the 75mbps plan.

The Unfortunate Truth

I hopped back on chat support with the ISP and was connected with another friendly agent. After explaining what the previous agent promised me, and a series of extended waits, the agent informed me that I was already on the fastest available plan — 75mbps. The free upgrade to 100mbps was too good to be true.

The agent did her best to lift my spirits by telling me that within the next month fiberoptic cable would be installed in my neighborhood, and I’d have the opportunity to upgrade to significantly faster service. I sure hope that was true but only time will tell.

Reviewing the bad parts of the experience

In review, this was a poor experience and it’s important to understand everything that was poor about it in order to avoid repeating this with my own customer support team. Here are my five takeaways:

  1. Friendliness can only take you so far – Everyone I spoke with was friendly. The first person I spoke with told me exactly what I wanted to hear. Too bad it wasn’t true.
  2. Accuracy is more important than friendliness – Sure, the message should be delivered with a smile, but accuracy beats friendliness any day. Do I think the first agent lied to me on purpose? Probably not. It’s much more likely that the agent didn’t have the proper training and resources to provide me with accurate information.
  3. Customers can’t tell the difference between inaccuracies and lies – When the first agent tells me what I want to hear and the second tells me it was all incorrect, I can’t help but feel lied to.
  4. Inconsistent information damages trust – How can I trust and continue to do business with a company that doesn’t provide consistent service?
  5. My problem still isn’t solved – The second agent even acknowledged that I was provided with inaccurate information. But the bummer is that I still need faster internet service and am no closer to a solution to that problem.

This was not a great experience at all — and while it’s easy to point fingers, the fear is that my own team would commit a similar infraction.

This is a great reminder of the importance of equipping our customer support teams to provide consistently accurate information in order to earn and maintain customer trust.

Have I missed any valuable lessons from this experience that will help my team begin a record-breaking winning streak of our own? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts.

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