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September 05, 2009
AT&T and the 2 most important words
That's what you say when a large number of your customers are upset with you. AT&T customers have been complaining for months about dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and slow download speeds for the iPhone.
So, AT&T released this video on YouTube.
In it, "Seth the Blogger" (no, not that Seth) says AT&T has heard all the complaints but then congratulates his company for pioneering the smart phone industry. He also explains how cell networks operate with snoozingly detailed graphics and finally tries to explain how the company is spending money to fix the network.
But never he says what customers really want to hear: "We're sorry."
Other blogs that reference AT&T and the 2 most important words:
I'm not an attorney. I wonder if publicly stating "I'm sorry" is the equivalent of saying "I'm liable" and opening a door for customer to seek damages.
But I'm guessing Occam's Razor and the omission is just traditional brand arrogance.
Here's something missing from the article. While AT&T is pretending to be sorry in public, in their media purchases they are demanding that anyone that takes their money, not speak badly of them. Its a contractual agreement for radio and TV to prevent the stations from commenting negatively on AT&T services (or lack of) While I understand the desire to limit bad press, making the product work might be a better way to start
In the last couple of years the American Medical Association has begun recommending that doctors engage their patients when things go wrong rather than hiding behind their lawyer. To lawyers this is a bad idea (because they get cut out of lucrative lawsuits) but doctors and patients both are discovering the benefits of admitting that mistakes were made and moving forward. This common sense idea hasn't reached the Death Star yet obviously.
In every communication with AT&T that I've had these last two years dealing with dropped calls, visual voicemail failures, texts not getting delivered, and screwed up bills, all I've heard were excuses. Of late the new tactic has been to put the blame on me and my fellow iPhone owners. Can you imagine that I'd buy a phone with features like email and browsing and then have the audacity to expect they'd work?
Could any company have done better? I honestly don't know but none has worked so hard to screw up like AT&T has.
Interesting post. Really, the difficulty is not to say "I'm sorry", the difficulty is to assume the consequences of this. But, how many times the consumer would agree to hear only this?
I never have understood what is so difficult about saying those two words. I feel they can move mountains.
Ask Om Malik how HE feels about this:
It isn't that hard to say "I'm sorry" (http://businessisinthedetails.com/customer-service/just-say-you-are-sorry/) but Jose is right - you have to accept the responsibility and fix it!
I think Keith, Jose are right in that saying "I'm sorry" is only the first step. And Peter's point about admitting liability is valid. If AT&T owns up to their failure to deliver on the contracted services, what's next? Rebates, refunds, credits for dropped calls, missed text messages, data plans?
What I really want: better service. I've read various AT&T promises of improved service this, added towers that; have not experienced it. Tomorrow's Apple announcement: will AT&T be prepared for the iPhone onslaught, or will they get caught with their network down again? Saying "I'm sorry" the next day won't be enough.
I want to hear "we're sorry" too. But I also want to see a change in behavior. We'll see what September 25th brings. Right now my service is so unreliable I won't make business calls from my iPhone. How useful is that?
The truth is I don't care why it is/was challenging for AT&T to accurately predict demand and then provide it before it was a problem for users. I pay AT&T top dollar to be able to use my smart phone. I care that my phone works when I need it to. We're sorry would have been a good start to their missive. Sounds like a bunch of excuses on par with "I'm not prepared to take the test today" and "the dog ate my homework".
My mother experienced so many dropped calls she almost thought the iPhone was broken. We dont want to hear sorry,we want to hear how you are really fixing it. Not a fairy tale.
The tip of the iceberg maybe, I just wonder how many people have complained and over what time period before this kind-of (update) apology has been given. There investment programme seems to be huge I wonder what there profits are on sales.
That is not only what you say when a large number of your customers are upset - but I guess in AT&T's case that is academic.
What a powerful statement it would make to acknowledge that they care for their customers. Companies need to learn that it's okay to feel bad about the experience their customers are having. It isn't an admission of anything legal, it is merely a show of good will. In every business I have ever been involved with, a little "I'm sorry," goes a long way in creating that interpersonal bond with your customer.
This isn't only AT&T that needs to learn this lesson, many others do as well.
It makes me feel like they don't care about their customers, since they have an exclusive deal for the iPhone, and everyone is locked into a contract.
It's good to me knowing something abot AT&T beforing buying it.
Market speak packaged for the social networks is still just market speak. When will companies like AT&T learn that if you're going to go face to face with customers you've got to keep it real? Come on AT&T, let's hear you take personal responsibility and say you're sorry!
AND He needs a haircut. =P
I just gave up on at&t all together. Too hard to use and too many contracts.
I'm sure that Apple needs to be criticized for more than just iphone snafus (sp?)...
I recently purchased this shuffle to replace the second generation shuffle (that I thought was great) which was stolen. I charged it (or thought I had) for close to 8 hrs and was only able to play 5 songs. After purchasing it from Target I threw away the receipt since I thought, "Oh, I had no problem with the last one, why should this one be any different?" What a mistake!
Even when I was able to listen to the first 5 songs the adjustment buttons on the wire were so hard to manage (in comparison to the 2nd generation). I brought it to the Apple Store in Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted nicely but then asked, "Well, do you have an appointment to meet with a tech about this problem?" I immediately thought, "Why did I throw away that receipt?" I set up an appt with a tech for the very next night, which happens to be tonight.
My experience was not pleasant. The tech listen to the diagnosis, which was basically reporting that the shuffle fails to hold a charge. After stating, "Wow, you haven't had this shuffle very long at all!" He stated that I could choose to wait 2-3 days for a replacement shuffle to arrive from Apple. I asked, "OR?????" "Well," he responded, "you could 'recycle it'and we'd give you 10% off any purchase in the store." I asked if they sold the shuffle in the store. He stated, "Yes". I told him I'd like to trade mine for one in the store. He told me that Apple Store and Apple don't mix inventories and the best he could do is order me a replacement. I asked him, "You're telling me that if someone wanted to buy a shuffle right now, tonight, you'd tell them to come back in 2-3 days?" He said the customer would be able to pick out a shuffle right then and there and take it home. To which I responded, "O....k...I don't see why I can't as well." "We don't have one in stock 'as a replacement'." I assured him that this will be the last Apple product I buy. His response, "You're free to make that decision, sir." I assure you, I will not buy another i-tunes card for a nephew or niece (of which I have plenty) nor will I recommend i-tunes card promotions at my job, kid's school, or church (which we have used on many occasions).
I will also be posting my experience on as many blogs as I can find. This is poor customer service. I'm going to get my $75 worth of complaining out there for others to read about.
Patrick J. Schrader