Saturday, August 1, 2009

Advocating for Better Customer Service

The following story should have been a no-brainer for the folks at FIDO, instead it became a test of patience and perseverence for a client. This is a true story.

The client has been with FIDO since 1995 and has 3 phone lines, each under a different term contract expirying at various times. As a matter of interest, the client used to have a fourth line, but transferred ownership of that line to his son, who committed to a new contract with FIDO. The client has a good rating with FIDO, and rarely calls with concerns over service issues. His credit rating is rated 'low', as he pays his bills within the perscribed timeframe. On average, his monthly bill is approximately $300 per month for the 3 lines.

Now that you have the background on the client, we'll approach the situation: When the introduction of the iPhones commenced a little over a year ago, the client requested an upgrade on one of his lines to the iPhone. He also took the $30/month 6-GIG data package add-on to his existing phone contract. FIDO obliged his request without objection. At that time, he also inquired whether one of the other lines could also receive the iPhone upgrade, and he was advised that he would have to wait until June 2009, which he excepted.

This year, Apple introduced the 'new' iPhone with enhanced features not included on the first version. Our client contacted FIDO in July requesting the upgrade to the line previously mentioned that needed to wait until June to upgrade. He was denied the upgrade due to an internal policy change which was implemented on February 3rd, 2009 restricting any contract renewals prior to 6-months from expiry of existing contract term. This was a 'no exceptions' policy direction. Which would mean that our client who still had 11 months remaining on his contract with FIDO (for this particular line) would not be able to upgrade to the iPhone (at the reduced price for the phone) until February 2010.

In a conversation with the FIDO Supervisor, he was told his only two options would be to purchase the iPhone at full cost, or wait until February 2010 (& hope that FIDO was still offering the iPhone at that time.) What baffled our client the most, was that the policy was not put in place for the customer, but rather for FIDO. As explained to him, the reason for the policy was that FIDO had experienced a number of complaints from the first launching of the iPhone from clients who were not pleased with the extended contract terms applied to their contract when they upgraded to the iPhone. So as a means of dealing with this communication concern, FIDO chose to place all of their customers into one pile...

Not satisfied with the explanation for the decline, our client then took the next step of contacting senior management at FIDO requesting further explanation to the policy. Within a week, FIDO contacted the client explaning that while they do have the 'no exceptions' policy, there was a reason that they have humans answering the phone and not computers..."to allow for intelligent decisions to be made." The senior staffer who contacted our client resolved the concern, and he now is the proud owner another iPhone (this one is white).

The moral of the story here is to approach obstacles in life with logic, not emotion. At no time during my clients interaction with FIDO did he use profanity, make virulent statements, generalize or trivialize, or get personal. To FIDO's credit, neither did they. They remained logical and focussed on the policy before them...what was required was a bridge to be constructed between a customer and a retailer to solve a situation which could have had dire results if not corrected. The only way that bridge gets constructed is to advocate for what you believe in, and leave your personal opinions at the door. Get the facts first. Understand them second. Look for a solution (if there really is one) third. Make sure you're speaking with the right person fourth. And, finally make sure you thank them for taking the time.

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