Monday, September 21, 2009

Why it’s important for your customers to say good things about your products AND your company

Right now there’s an all-out war between Comcast and Verizon FIOS. Even though I have FIOS and like the product (and there is a distinction between the product and the company), I’m going to put my money on Comcast in the long run. Here’s why. Comcast is working on getting people to say good things about the company and their products and Verizon is solely focused on the product.

Recently, I was watching a new Verizon FIOS commercial where the cable guy and the FIOS guy are attending focus groups and the cable guy says something about listening to customers being dumb.

The irony is that this commercial came from Verizon.

My wife recently convinced me to switch from Comcast Cable to Verizon FIOS. I’m a creature of habit so this change wasn’t necessarily welcome but it would save us almost $100/month. Nothing to sneeze at these days.

I told my wife that I wanted to look into it because being in the business of marketing and media, I don’t take these things lightly. First I went to the Verizon FIOS web page and of course they have that nifty little “chat with me” link. So I did. Guess what? It’s not an actual live chat function. It’s a bot. This is frustrating because it keeps circling back and saying “Great, let’s get started.” Even though the stupid bot has never actually answered my question. FIOS. Sacked for a loss.

I did some research online to see what folks were saying about FIOS and in general, people were saying good things about the product, channel selection, interface, multi-room DVR and so on. What they weren’t saying was nice things about Verizon. The consensus from various chatter among consumer feedback web sites was that customer service was abhorrent. FIOS. Sacked for a loss. Again.

I told my wife my findings and said here’s the deal, you have to deal with any and all service issues. She say’s “Done.” Much to her regret.

My wife talks to a sales person at FIOS more than once and is told our savings would be about $100 per month. They tell her we’ll also get a $150 gift card and $300 in savings in gas and groceries. TOUCHDOWN FIOS!

We get FIOS installed. I agree. The product is far superior to Comcast. But there’s a problem. We only get a $50 gift card. My wife begins to deal with customer service. I’ll save you all the gory details but my wife has two full pages of notes and once she started keeping track of how much time she spent dedicated to resolve getting what we were promised she has spent approximately 22 hours on the phone with Verizon. The offer for the $300 in gas and groceries was through a 3rd party. Funny thing is, no one at Verizon Customer Service knew about it or how to go about signing someone up and even gave my wife an 800 number to call that was disconnected. At one point a customer service person said, “Well you can always go back to cable?” WHAT!?

When you go to the Verizon FIOS web site, there are testimonials about how great FIOS is. The product that is. One of them compares FIOS to a VCR. Really? You don’t say. Although I’ll readily admit and do that the physical product is better. Customer service however is another story and that’s what has the potential to make the product irrelevant.

The greater irony is that while Comcast may need to up its game with making the product better, they’re at least making an effort to listen to the customer.

The bottom line is that Verizon has bigger issues and they just don’t know it yet. Because in the long run while of course it’s important for people to say good things about your products, it’s even more important for people to say good things about your company.

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