Friday, June 12, 2009

And Bad Customer Service

After I reconfigured the router/modem I bought and rebooted it, my son walked in and said his XBOX wouldn’t connect. A quick check of things on my desktop confirmed that my Internet connection was down. A nice red light on the router confirmed that.

I double checked the user, password, but the router wouldn’t connect. I had a DSL signal, but not an IP from the WAN side. So with my son urging me on so he could play XBOX live, I called Qwest back and got a new customer service rep. I explained my issue, and she asked if I had a Qwest modem. I said no, mine had died last year, I’d replaced it, and was now replacing the router again. At that point she said she couldn’t help me.

Silence for about 30 seconds.

I wasn’t even sure what to say. That is truly a way to turn a customer off. However with no choice in the matter, I went on to ask her to check my user/password. She did, they matched, and she said that she couldn’t help since she didn’t know Netgear and they program everything into their Qwest modems.

With subsequent questioning from me, she revealed:

  • The DSL signal can be PPPoE or PPPoA, but PPPoE is recommended.
  • The VCI setting needs to be 32 and the VPI is 0, and I can use either LLC or VC multiplexing
  • Qwest modems are at Wal-Mart and Best Buy locally

She would not have mentioned any of these if I had not asked questions. She would have let me hang up the phone and call back for more tech support if I couldn’t figure it out. She at no time initiated information to help me solve the problem or even to move forward. She never told me that I should go to a store and get a Qwest modem if I couldn’t get this to work.

She just kept saying they didn’t support non-Qwest products.

I can appreciate the fact that they don’t want to support other products. Totally understand the training issue there, but providing settings, like the VCI/VPI settings (she never identified which was 32 and which was 0, I had to experiment), would be nice. Suggesting that I go get a Qwest modem if I had issues, and telling me where to go would have been acceptable.

Instead, I wasted almost 10 minutes of my time arguing with her, and Qwest’s time, because she didn’t want to help me.


Quick and Easy Customer Service

Great customer service isn't hard. It's tedious, it's thoughtful, and it's a little effort, but it's not hard. It can cost time and money, and so many people try to shortcut things here, resulting in badwill. In these days of automated voice response and speech recognition systems, it can be frustrating for the customer, and it appears that many companies don't worry about that.

I see it as a mistake, and one that small businesses don't want to repeat. They can't afford to churn customers as much as large companies, though large companies are realizing this is an issue as well.

I got a new modem/router the other day since my current one has issues. When I got it home, I realized that I didn't have the password to connect to the DSL line, and I couldn't retrieve it from the modem. Not sure why it's a big deal to get it back since that's likely a more secure place than on my desk, but in any case, I can to call Qwest.

I got an automated system, as expected, and it wasn’t obvious which options to pick for a “need my password”, but it was simple. I selected “Internet” over “Telephone” and then “Tech Support” since it wasn’t billing or ordering. Next it was “Configuration” over “Installation”, “Email”, and “Troubleshooting”. That immediately brought me to an agent, well not immediately, but within 2 minutes. I got a message in the meantime saying the expected wait was 3 minutes.

That’s easy, using automation to efficiently schedule people and providing feedback. I’m not sure how expensive this is for small businesses, but lots of little call center applications exist, and they could easily do this for you.

I explained my issue and the agent told me to hold for a minute while he checked. I asked him what he was checking and he said he wanted to verify the old password that he had was working. That’s amazing. I can’t tell you how many times someone has reset or sent me a password without checking it. I’ve done that, and when it doesn’t work, it’s annoying.

He then read it to me, let me read it back, and then asked if I wanted him to stay on hold while I switched them. I said no because I wasn’t quite ready here, but I appreciated the offer.

Total time about 5 minutes from the phone number lookup to having the info. Very impressive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Written for individuals, but applicable to the small business as well. Good advice from Mark Cuban on getting going in 2009. Worth a read for those early in their careers, but applicable to everyone as well.