Improving the Last Mile of the Customer Experience

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According to the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, wireless carriers rank in the middle of the pack with respect to the customer experiences they deliver, ahead of industries such as hotels and Internet services and providers. My own recent experience with one of the largest carriers in the U.S. demonstrates how one customer experience can leave a lasting impression.
Customer Engagement

According to the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings, wireless carriers rank in the middle of the pack with respect to the customer experiences they deliver, ahead of industries such as hotels and Internet service providers. My own recent experience with one of the largest carriers in the U.S. demonstrates how one customer experience can leave a lasting impression.My wife and I had been doing quite a bit of research (reading online forums, talking to subscribers for different wireless carriers) to determine whether to stick with our current provider or switch to another carrier if they offered comparable service coverage and better value. What we learned from talking to people in our immediate coverage area is that the other competitors don't come close to providing the range of coverage offered by our existing provider, so we decided to stick with our current carrier.

The plan was for three of us in our family to upgrade our phones and transfer an older iPhone to my youngest daughter who is being added to the account.
On the day we decided to pull the trigger, we had a couple of options. One was to buy an Apple iPhone 5C from a national retailer that was offering a steep discount. The other option was to buy the same model iPhone from the carrier under an extended payment plan.

We started at one of the carrier's stores in our area and were greeted by a salesman I'll call David. At first, David seemed anxious to help. But throughout the entire time we spent in the store (roughly 90 minutes), he persistently tried to upsell us. For instance, despite repeated attempts to convince him that we were interested in the iPhone 5C, he kept trying to upsell us ("No, you want the 5S. Trust me, you want the 5S.").

We had done our research on the two models and none of us felt like we needed to have the latest model despite a boost in processing power offered by the 5S. Plus, I didn't want to pay the extra cost per month for the extended payment plan with the 5S. David countered that by upgrading to the 5S, we would get an extra 2 GB of data per month. The thing is, we're not using all of the data that's available to us now, so it didn't seem that important to us.

Even though I was the only person in our family eligible for an upgrade, we liked the idea of buying at least one iPhone 5C for a fraction of the price with the national retailer. When we talked to David about this, he tried to persuade us how that would be a bad move since we only had one upgrade available and because we "wouldn't get the same experience" with the retailer. As it turns out, he was right. We received a much better experience with the retailer

After David's pushy upsell tactics, my wife had had enough and decided to take our youngest daughter across the mall to the national retailer to see whether she might be able to purchase an iPhone 5C from them and transfer her older model iPhone to our daughter. The salesman she worked with, Frank, was extremely courteous, never attempted to upsell her but did set her up with an iPhone 5C as an "equipment transfer," an option that David had never revealed to us. Meanwhile, my older daughter and I did end up purchasing our iPhones from David and to be completely fair, he was able to upgrade my daughter by allowing her to trade in an older phone we had with us.

In the end, we were able to obtain the phones we wanted but the experience with David was anything but pleasant. He never really attempted to understand what our needs and interests were and by the time we had concluded the sale, we just wanted to get out of the store.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION