I’ve been a long time AT&T customer and have 7 mobile lines with them – of course you couldn’t tell by countless frustrations trying to deal with their bureaucracy, getting bill issues resolved, and my personal favorite – disconnecting my cell # for delayed payment while I’m in Europe!! But spending a week in Las Vegas with the worst reception ever – dropped calls on my iPhone, dial-up connectivity with my 3G data card, etc. frustrated me to explore other options. Of course I’m contractually a servant to them for the next couple of years, but I’m determined to explore other options.

So, I took yesterday afternoon off and visited three different stores (actual retail locations and not resellers): Sprint, Verizon & AT&T. Here is a brief summary of my experience:

Sprint – no fault of theirs, but the particular shopping strip of this retail store is going through a massive renovation. I had to park several blocks away and fight my way through dust, dirt, concrete slabs, and tapped off areas to get to the store. I walk in, it’s crowded, and no real order or logic for how they’re receiving customers! I finally asked an employee if they had a sign-in sheet – seems to be the norm at these place now, not sure why. Of particular interest was the EVO 4G phone I’ve seen several ads for – I found my way to the display area, and after about 20 min, a woman in the back shouts out my name. Not particularly impressive, chewing gum, unpolished, and fumbled several seemingly straightforward questions about options, services, etc. She had to ask several people for help and during one of several trips when she went hunting for information, I called my wife – good reception, and checked our Relationship Economics website – good speed. She gave me her card and a cheesy line about “we’d love to earn your business.” Thought I was in a used car lot for a minute. I wrote down a handful of prices, rebates, and monthly plan restrictions, thanked her and left.

Verizon – brand new shopping strip right down the street, parked right up front, walked in and to my surprise – it was completely empty! A manager type met me at the door on his way out and introduced me to a sales rep – behind a counter. I asked if I could look at several Droid phones – for which, again, I’ve seen several recent ads. He was polite, gave me good information, several options, and was knowledgeable but I felt like I was fumbling my way around the phone navigation. Likewise, called the wife – she said I sounded like I was in a tunnel and the same access to our website, took forever to load! Wrote down comparable device prices, rebates, and monthly plans restrictions, thanked the young man and left.

AT&T – dark parking lot, but bright store, not too busy, a sales rep saw me right away. We pulled up my account info, and found out that a couple of accounts were no longer under contract – canceled them immediately, but purchased an iPhone 4 – more thanks to Apple’s innovation than AT&T’s coverage. The rep had an awful time with their internal system – pulling up my account, moving lines around, canceling lines, etc. It also bothered me that he was way too pushy with their in-home service, i.e. Uverse? in which I had no interest. I paid my current bill, paid for the new device, thanked him and left – an hour and half after I had walked in!! It reminded me of the DMV and getting my license renewed!

Bottom line – I’m still searching for a decent secondary device and consistent reception. Amazing that they all advertise great coverage, great devices, “rule the air” ads, yet when the experience on the ground – at the edge of business where it matters the most, is tested, it falls way short of what their CEOs get on TV and promise!

  1. I wonder when was the last time any of them visited their own retail stores?
  2. I wonder if any have an executive in charge of retail customer experiences – because based on my experiences yesterday, all three should be fired.
  3. I wonder who does field training for these companies and if they get the age-old notion of: “like me – know me – trust me – pay me!”

Here is another good one for you – not a single person asked any questions about what I used the smart phone for!! Nothing about my digital habits, usage, current provider, current device, current spending, desired features / functionality, decision criteria of one device & provider over another, and what brought me into their stores! They ALL simply started blabbering about their products and services – without a single clue as to a holistic customer life cycle! I wonder if they realize that the customer experiences they create – or lack thereof, speaks far greater volume than their ads, rebates, and corporate marketing efforts?

How are you stress testing the customer experience others get when they deal with you and your organization?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn