Dear Verizon call center

ScriptoriumTech / Opinion3 Comments

My voice mail randomly bailed on me, and after much Googling and forum snooping, I still couldn’t get it to cooperate. I couldn’t log in, and no one could leave me a message. So, I went down to the Verizon store, intent on giving the (very friendly) folks there a piece of my mind. I walked in, my fantastic iPhone 4 held out before me like a broken-winged bird, and handed it to the first available person with a name tag. “Doesn’t work,” I said. “The voice mail’s wonky.”

The representative took my phone, pressed the home button on it, and thoughtfully frowned. “So, you can’t log in,” she said. “No one can leave you a message, that sort of thing.”

I nodded.

“Is this a recent thing?” she asked.


“As in, it used to work and now it doesn’t.”

“Ah, yep.”

Then, poker-faced, she tapped it three times with her index finger. “Here you go,” she said, handing it back to me.

I was stunned. I expected the problem to be complicated and the route to the solution tortuous. I had spent all that time, after all. “What did you do?” I asked.

“Call forwarding was turned on. Star-seven-three.”

Now, this wouldn’t have been a big deal, had I not, in addition to Googling and forum snooping, spent nearly an hour on the phone with a (again, very friendly) call center representative the night before. But I had. “Do you see this sort of thing often?” I asked the representative.

“Yeah,” she said. “Daily.”

I pressed the sleep button on my phone, shoved it in my back pocket. “Shouldn’t someone tell the people at the call center?” I asked.

“We have, like a thousand times.” Then she smiled. “Anything else?”

“Nope, thanks.”

The only logical reason I could think of for the call center not knowing about this phenomenon was that their documentation process was so complicated that a simple case like this one was not easily incorporated into their knowledgebase. And of course this brought to my attention the fact that there really needs to be a clear avenue down which technical support can pass on information to tech comm (see Sarah O’Keefe’s post about this: Pitting tech comm and tech support against each other).

And lastly, I also thought of how much money Verizon must have lost on my (literally) thirty-second fix.

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3 Comments on “Dear Verizon call center”

  1. It’s not always the tech. Sometimes it’s the people and their incentives.

    Take the three primary sources you went to for help: a live sales representative, an individual in a call-center, and a writer responsible for writing the online documentation.

    The sales rep. is moderately well paid and has taken the time to know his/her products well to make more sales and earn more commission. You can see this person. You know where he or she works. You can come back and bother this person repeatedly.

    The sales rep. is likely to help you to resolve your issue and get you quickly out of the store and also leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling that’ll ensure your continued business.

    The person in the call center is typically paid the smallest wage possible and may work for a third-party company hired to handle call center overflow. He or she is also protected by a certain level of anonymity, will likely never talking to you again, and is paid the same dismal amount whether s/he helps you or not.

    Even if the documentation is updated quickly, correctly and often, what are the chances that an individual at a call center cares enough to keep him or herself current on the information?

    The technical writer hired to write the documentation is either a contractor who wrote the content and moved on or is a permanent fixture within the business and juggles the documentation for a dozen other devices. In the case of a permanent writer, his/her performance is probably measured by an ability to meet deadlines on new user-guides, not update existing content.

    What are the chances that this person is still around or has the capacity to review every small update and quick fix before posting it as gospel in the online help?

  2. @Ethan. As a customer, I don’t really care what the tech writers were hired to do. I don’t care what anyone was hired to do–I just want my problem fixed, and I don’t want to have to make the time to drive to the store to make that happen. And let’s consider the three primary sources I went to for help: the sales rep, the call-center rep, and the doc writer. The fact of the matter is that the two people who should have had the information didn’t, and the person you’d generally expect to be least likely to know did. I have no reason to believe that the sales rep was being untruthful when she told me that they’d been trying to get this information to the people who needed it, so I believe her. Fine. My point is that, regardless of who’s to blame, Verizon is 1) wasting money, and 2) irking their customers, both because they haven’t ironed out the kinks in their process. Customers are not interested in reasons. And I think you’d agree with me that, regardless of what the tech writer’s metrics actually measure, and regardless of whose role it is to whatever or blah blah blah, and regardless of capacity, tech comm/tech support needs to handle its business if it 1) wants customers to keep that warm and fuzzy feeling, and 2) doesn’t want to lose money on support.

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