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Bill Kalmar

Customer Care

This Is What Good Customer Service Looks Like

Customer service is more than a smile and a wave

Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 11:01

If you have a smart phone, and most people do these days, you realize just how much our lives are controlled by that electronic item we travel everywhere with. There are apps on our phones that allow us to find our car, find our keys, find our friends, or my favorite, find my phone. That is all fine and good unless your phone dies, just as ours did this past Sunday. Talk about feeling completely lost—wow!

Our phone went out on Sunday morning and would not open or even take a charge. So, off to Verizon to get it fixed.

I am not a shill for Verizon, but I think the following is a good example of what quality customer service looks like.

Once we got to Verizon, we were informed that our phone had died a happy death and could not be resuscitated. Fortunately, we had insurance, which means we could receive a new phone at no charge. We were told that a new phone would arrive on Tuesday from FedEx. And as promised a new phone arrived right on time.

Now, as a senior citizen, opening the box and looking at the instructions to activate the phone was a bit daunting, so again, off to the Verizon office we went. Once there a rep known as a “solutions specialist” took the new phone, downloaded all of the pictures and phone numbers, and activated the phone.

The rep at Verizon even boxed up the old phone, and we returned it to the company via UPS. In fact, we took the old boxed phone to the UPS store and moments later received an email that the phone was on its way to Verizon.

The customer service didn't end there. On Tuesday after the phone arrived, I received a call from the Verizon executive office asking if I was satisfied with the new phone and the service.

Now that is role-model, world-class customer service.

Of course, Verizon didn't do everything for us; we still had to recall and enter all of our passwords, which points out that if you have different passwords for all of your electronic equipment, it is a good idea to record them in a safe place. We also had to connect our phone to the Bluetooth system on our car. This allows us to receive calls without having to lift the phone—just press a button on the steering wheel, a valuable feature, because if you are caught talking on your phone while driving, you could be hit with a $100 fine, or more.

So, now all is back to normal in our life. Not having a phone strapped to my waist made me discombobulated. I knew I was missing calls and emails and text messages. I felt lost. Now that I have my phone back, I can find my car, find my keys, find my friends, and find my next vanilla latte at Biggby. Life is good.


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


differences in expectations for "role model"

My perspective on your experience is not quite to the level of glee that you seem to have.

I would describe your experience as “basic” service, at best.  My daughter also had a phone die recently (her phone went to the bottom of a lake while hiking with friends at summer camp).  Her phone is also through Verizon and insured.

My experience was very similar to yours.  My wife went to the Verizon store to replace the phone under the insurance.  Received very similar treatment, order the new one and wait.   This is where our views of “role model world class” and “basic” diverge.  Up to this point, the service was adequate.  Friendly people, nice conversations, etc.  Adequate and very basic.  Nice, cheerful, friendly, polite, nothing wrong AND nothing notable.

Where I look to have “role model world class” would be for a “wow” factor, not the “basic” service and the attitude of “you’re not a paying customer so you get to wait”.  And we did, and they delivered right on time, just as expected:  not before or late.  Again nothing “role model”, just expected, Basic. 

IF a service provider wanted to emulate “role model” status in my eyes, they would have taken one of the phones in their inventory, activated it, done all the activities they would do for any new customer and sent us on our way.  This would have registered as above average to me.  The next step to get to “role model” would have been to ask for my daughter’s address and mailed it directly to her all ready to go.  Then she would have received the fully functional, ready to go device in the 2 days it took to just get the device that then needed her to perform all the activities of activating, restoring, etc. THAT would be role model world class service.

What we received was adequate, basic service.  It’s unfortunate that today’s erosion of service has people thinking this is somehow “role model” and “world class”.