Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Dave Ginsburg

For those of you who have worked with sales, or have stood in front of a customer explaining the latest and greatest from engineering, these were the watchwords. The worst you can do is make a promise, or an implied promise, and then break it. Better is to take a more conservative approach, only promising what you know is rock solid. Anything above and beyond, and you’ll ‘delight’ the customer. Unfortunately, as BGR reported, Sprint hasn’t seem to have learned their lesson. These are the things that lost customers are made of. And, whether Sprint’s decision to outsource operations to Ericsson to permit them to ‘focus’ on their customers will improve things is anyone’s guess.

Customers are precious, especially today. Their loyalties have been shaken, as evidenced by the move to prepaid. The postpaid subscribers that remain are more demanding, and expect a premium experience. I’m sure the folks at AT&T are none too pleased about recent reports on network throughput and reliability. But that’s today’s reality. Everyone’s voice is heard through the power of blogs, Youtube, and other social media. CNN and Fortune now use these as sources. For people a decade or so younger than me, this their reality. Witness the posting on United ( In fact, as I write, over 3 million people have viewed the video on Youtube.

The premium experience customers expect doesn’t end when they push the purchase button on the operator’s website. When calling in for support, they expect first time problem resolution as opposed to a runaround on what ‘might’ be the problem, and they don’t want to die on the vine on the IVR. They want information, and one of Sprint’s problems was not providing accurate updates as to when the phones would actually be available, and where. Much like being in an airport, staring up at the departures screen, and wondering when and if your plane will ever take off. Not fun. It is incumbent upon the operators to look at all phases of the customer interaction, from the first TV ad to contract renewal. Look at the various ways that customers interact, and seek to improve each phase.

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