Cingular CSR Admits Service Sucks, Keeps Customer

It’s strangely refreshing to get a casual and honest CSR on the other end of the phone. Instead of binder-read lip service that always translates to “We appreciate your concerns, so go fuck yourself” the opposite approach is placating. A lot of time, people who call customer service lines just want an admission that there’s a problem, for someone to listen to them: outside of that, they tend to be pretty patient about resolution as long as they don’t feel like they are being given the cold shoulder or patronized.

Unfortunately, such CSRs are rare. But Cingular apparently still has them and Lee W’s good experiences with a couple Cingular employees lead him to stay as a customer even after a frustrating spate of technical problems. What did these CSRs do that was so different? They just admitted that there was a problem and helped as best they could. Seems so easy, doesn’t it?

Lee’s email after the jump.

I’ve been having issues with my new refurbished Blackberry from Cingular. Basically, my reception went hell and the device has a nasty habit of neglecting to connect to the Edge network for hours at a time. So I spent some time today on the phone with them arranging a replacement. Easy enough — oddly enough. I first went to a store to do it, but they couldn’t — so they gave me a $40 credit on my bill for my trouble. Go figure. And thank you!

But then I got an email from them telling me that my mailbox was full. Problem is, I delete everything every day. And the cingular.com/blackberrystart web page showed that I had zero messages. Until I clicked on “manage folders.” That showed I had 600+ messages and was over my limit. But there was no way to delete them.

I called in again, and despite attempts by a sweet CSR girl to resolve it, we got nowhere. And she told me the Blackberry people were gone for the day, so I’d have to call back the next day. I thanked her, then asked for a 2-level escalation. She said “Uh… okay” as if wondering how I knew that.

I got to a manager who was weirdly and refreshingly nice and understanding. The Blackberry folks were indeed gone for the day, but he walked me through the process — as he remembered it — from his own Blackberry doing the same thing. And his tips actually worked.

Then, completely unprompted, he told me Cingular is having serious integration issues these days (Really!?!?!?!? ). New service is taking 4-6 hours to get up and running. And many people are having serious reception problems. In fact, he said his reception turned to shit about the same time my service and my wife’s service did — and he’s in Austin while I’m in Los Angeles.

Despite the fact that I believe their “fewer dropped calls” campaign is actually true because Cingular offers fewer completed calls, I have to give them props for candor. Their service sucks these days and they admit it. Tuning 38,000 towers from two separate systems can’t be easy. But they get bonus points for admitting it’s a problem.

Too bad I can’t call and commend them.