Doesn’t ATT Get It?

ATT is known as the megalithic telephone company but it also has holdings in many other areas of business, not the least of which are Yahoo! and other Internet services. They’ve been a major marketer and you would think they understood the trends and changes and would be able to keep up with the times. Apparently not.
 
Lora was paying the phone bill yesterday. She attempted to make the payment, as she does each month, by calling ATT’s automated billing system. This computer/telephone interface uses a male voice to request information which you can enter either by pressing numbers on the telephone keypad or speaking your answers. It has a reasonably good voice recognition function and guides you through the process in a prompt and professional manner. Usually Lora gets the phone bill paid and is off the phone in a couple of minutes.
 
Yesterday was different. Something went wrong with the automated system and it got caught in some sort of loop jumping back to a spot in the process and asking the same questions over again. At some point Lora hit the required key to speak to a live person.
 
After a significant wait a service representative came online but apparently knew nothing about the nature or kind of issue Lora was experiencing. Lora had to go through the whole identification process all over again.
 
“Why don’t you just use the automated payment system, then?” wasn’t exactly helpful. Lora was put on hold while the representative went to find someone else who could help, or took a cigarette break, or something.
 
I could see Lora was getting stressed so I offered to hold. It was a long wait with crappy elevator music playing in the background. Maybe it was two cigarettes. Finally a new person came on the line. I had to go through the multi-step identification process myself. Don’t these people have the equipment to transfer the account reference along with the call? Hey, they’re ATT, world leaders in telephone! Apparently not.
 
So, I had to explain the problem from the beginning. This person, at least, understood that the issue was with the automated system and didn’t suggest I go back and try that again. “I can take your payment information for you,” she said cheerily. Perhaps there was hope. “But there will be a $5.00 convenience fee.”
 
Convenience fee? Are you kidding me? THEIR system breaks down and they want me to pay extra for one of their employees to manually take my payment. I’m on hold for longer than I have the ear of a representative. We have to identify ourselves no less than three times to get through to someone who can finally take our payment. What’s convenient about that? And why should I pay extra because their equipment is faulty?
 
We are in a new era of personal “trust” marketing, tailoring our message to individual customers and, along with it, delivering personal, one-to-one, support and service. We custom craft products to suit the individual. We modify service plans to a single customer’s needs. It’s 2013 and Toffler’s predictions have all come true, and then some.
 
So I said “Thanks but no thanks!” well, not exactly those words but I don’t think I’m allowed to print what I actually said, and decided then and there to go out Thursday and get a different service provider for my telephone and my Internet. I’m paying ATT far too much anyway. They won’t miss it, of course. My only hope is I’ll find better service with a smaller company.
 
But the icing on the cake came first thing this afternoon, just before I started writing this. In fact it was the motivator that gave me the push to do this post. My phone rang. My ATT phone (until tomorrow) and it was ATT’s feedback service wanting me to complete a survey to let them know how my service issue went yesterday. It was a machine.
 
Doesn’t ATT get it? Apparently not.

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Written by Steve

Rev. Stephen B. Henry, PhD. is an author, web developer, small business consultant, and mentor. Steve provides technical and online presence support to small business owners, e-commerce providers, and entrepreneurs, including those who work from home. He can be reached by email at therev@ourhutch.com.

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