Someone in Wyoming

Someone in Wyoming showed up on my caller ID this afternoon. Normally, I would have let it go to voice mail, but there are a few people down there whose numbers I don’t have memorized, so I picked it up and got a pleasant surprise.

It was Jennifer from Bresnan, the manager of their customer service quality management team for this area. Apparently Bresnan has someone (probably something, but that’s cool with me) scanning blogs for their various business/brand names.

Smart.

Sure, to anyone who knows about Google Alerts, it’s obvious that this is easy to do. Still, as obvious as it is, how many businesses are actually scanning blogs for their brand and business names in an effort to improve their service and head off bad publicity? My guess is not all that many.

Why? Because this is only my second service-related blog post that has generated feedback from the company. Or it’s a not so subtle hint that I need more readers:)

Jennifer called to find out how my calls to Bresnan’s service line went and what I was cranky about. Clearly my blog post had made it to her desk or email and she wanted details. As I noted in the previous Bresnan post, I was disappointed that they were wasting so much time (mine and their agents’) by having them ask me a series of questions about information that Chipper’s support systems should have already made available to him from Bresnan’s internal systems.

The real downside of that is that these extra questions not only unnecessarily extended the time I was on the call with Chipper, it also means that everyone behind me has to wait longer for help. That means that everyone calling Bresnan’s service has to wait longer.

Longer call times and wait times mean a lower customer service reputation. People who expect less, call less. If they have problems, they still don’t call because they know they’ll be on hold forever, or get the run-around, or something less than ideal. They get used to thinking the company’s product doesn’t work and wont get fixed. Service gets worse, customer satisfaction gets worse and everyone loses.

And that’s why she’s calling – to keep that from happening.

Here’s the good news for Jennifer: this extended call and wait/hold time makes Bresnan’s toll-free bill larger – and the potential for time savings is exponential since every change to a call affects every other call in the queue and those calls all affect the ones behind them. She can position these service improvements for the accountants as cost cutting moves. As their business grows, it’s likely that they will be able to reduce the number of call agents that they need per thousand new subscribers – which they are surely tracking… The cost savings means they have a lower average service cost per customer. That means a stronger company, which hopefully means Chipper’s job is more secure.

By the way, I have no problem with how Chipper handled the call. He followed the script perfectly (I’ve called before) and handled the entire call professionally. He just needs better tools. Now Jennifer has an angle to get them. I hope she does.

Like a good quality manager would, she was also looking for a successful conclusion to the call. Before we got off the phone, Jennifer said that she’d have a guy out here tomorrow and said he’d call first so he could meet me here (I’m in and out tomorrow and told her when I’d be gone).

Interestingly enough, a Bresnan serviceman showed up no more than 15 minutes after I got off the phone with Jennifer. Maybe she had Todd sitting down the street, waiting to show up, maybe she didn’t. Either way, it was a nice touch. When I asked Todd if Jennifer had called him, he said his boss called him and that Jennifer had called the boss.

Todd had been here before and was just as nice and helpful this time as he had been last time. Someone needs to give Todd a promotion – he should be training servicepeople (Todd will probably be cranky at me for getting him a desk job). Not because he knows more than anyone else about cable boxes, he may or may not, but because he knows how to deliver service better than most of the people I encounter day to day.

As Todd left, he handed me a free On-Demand movie, as he always does.