Reader Jason contacted us to share tips on how one can successfully resolve customer service issues by writing intelligent well-crafted emails to Gary Forsee, the CEO of Sprint. And, indeed, Jason’s emails are a cut above the usual seething buckets of bile that come squirting into our inbox.
You see, Jason didn’t just complain, he analyzed the weaknesses of Sprint’s business. He wrote to a CEO in a manner that a CEO would understand. As a result, Sprint canceled his account (at his request), zeroed his balance, and all was well. Not a year early or anything, but it’s something, and it saved him some money. Good job, Jason! —MEGHANN MARCO
Read Jason’s emails inside.
First, Jason wrote:
- 20-Apr-2006 00:02:05,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The purpose of this letter is to explain my recent experiences with Sprint. I feel that by conveying this information to you all, I can help Sprint become a better company in regards to customer service. First off, please let me introduce myself. My name is Jason XXXXX, and I have been a Sprint customer for 4 years.
In the time that I’ve been a customer, I’ve had to call various departments within Sprint, well over 100 (one hundred) times – with the bulk of them being to customer care – in order to resolve many, many different issues. In many of the cases, one of several things would happen when I called.
1)I would explain my problem to the first level representative, and after some time discussing the issue, I would be transferred to a second level supervisor.
2) During the aforementioned transfer to the supervisor, the call would be disconnected, or incorrectly routed, and I would end up back at a first level representative.
3) The representative would purposely disconnect the call.
4) The representative would refuse to transfer my call to a supervisor.
5) The call would get correctly transferred to the supervisor, who, often after an hour (There was at least one instance, where it took nearly three hours), would eventually find and fix the problem.
Sadly, it almost always resorts to #5 before the issue is resolved. There have been very few cases where a first level representative has managed to a) fix the problem, and b) not incorrectly enter information (such as the mailing address I had updated last night…which I had to do again today – but I digress).
Let us elaborate on the 5 previously mentioned call flows. The most common scenario involves #1, #3, #1, #2, #1, then finally #5, or some combination thereof – that is 3 calls, with a usual minimum of 15 minutes for each of the first two calls, and at least 30 minutes for the final call, which adds up to at least one hour per issue, half of which is to a level 2 supervisor.
I’d like to break these figures down for you. Assuming that a first level representative earns $10/hour (which is perhaps a little high, until you include benefits, etc) and that a supervisor earns $20/hour, we can estimate that each issue will cost Sprint a minimum of $15 in salary costs. I have at least one issue every two months that results in the above scenario. If even a small percentage of other customers have the same experiences that I do, it doesn’t take a business major to realize that this doesn’t make financial sense. On top of, and due to that, I’ve been highly considering canceling my account once the contract period expires. I’d also like to explain my most recent issue. Last night, at about 8:00pm, I attempted to pay my bill online at sprint.com, as I do every other month. There were technical difficulties with the website, so I called customer care to pay the bill instead.
Since the difficulties were technical in nature, the representative was nice enough to waive the normal fee that is charged when customers pay their bill with that method. I also asked the representative to change the mailing address on my account (which I had changed several months ago), and after several questions like “How do you spell ‘South’?”, he assured me that the change was made successfully. This afternoon, I received a call from Sprint, to tell me that I was close to my spending limit (of $300), and that if I did not pay my bill immediately, I risked being shut off. There are two problems with this.
1) My bill as of yesterday, was only $83.07, and even if another bill of ~$83 were to post, that would only put me at just over half the $300 spending limit.
2) When I pressed “6” to speak to a representative, I was assured that my current balance was, in fact, $0, and that I should also speak to customer care to verify that. After much effort (see #2 and #4 above), I was finally informed that the call was made in error, and that I should simply disregard it.
When prompted, the supervisor also informed me that my address had not, in fact, been changed.
In short, there are a few places where Sprint may have some room for improvement.
I would appreciate a call at your earliest convenience, so that we may discuss this more fully. I can be reached by telephone at XXXXXXXX.
Thank you for your time,
Gary Forsee, CEO Wrote:
- I apologize for any inconvenience you may have encountered and thank you
for contacting me. I’ve asked a member of my team to get in touch with
you to resolve your issue. We appreciate the chance to earn and keep
Chairman and CEO
Jason got a credit. On the the next email:
- Mr. Forsee,
You may recall my emailing you in the past, detailing the experiences I have had in my nearly 4 years as a Sprint customer. At this time, I would like to bring new issues to your attention. Ignore me again if you choose, but I would like to state that this has now lost you a long time customer.
I must note however, that if you ignore me (I would like to see a personalized reply email or phone call from you), I will be detailing the same information I have provided to you in the past, and currently, to be publicly available on my weblog – which has a very high concentration of Internet traffic from the telephony community (ie; cellular phone makers, PBX companies, other cellular phone company executives, Sprint shareholders, etc).
So, now the issues. I called in today, to find out the exact dates my contract expired, and I was told that even though my lines were both activated at the same time, that one expired one month after the other. Obviously, this is an issue.
Now let me detail each of the SIX calls I made this afternoon.
1) I called in, navigated through the automated system, and before being connected to a representative, I was disconnected.
2)I called in, navigated through the automated system, and was transferred to a representative who while looking up the account, complained to me about how bad her day has been going so far! She eventually transferred me to another department, and the representative was looking into the issue, and asked to put my on hold. While putting me on hold, we were disconnected.
3) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and after several minutes of explaining why I needed to, and how I had been hung up on twice previously, I was transferred to an Audix voicemail box, where I left a message, and was then disconnected from the system.
4) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and was hung up on during the transfer.
5) I called in, navigated through the automated system, asked to speak to a supervisor, and at this point, I was very upset, and refused to give her my account information. She said that since I could/would not provide that information, that the supervisor would not talk to me.
I’d like to comment on this one a little.. Have you ever had to call through the aforementioned automated system? When you call *2 from your mobile phone, you are greeted by “Claire” which is the automated response feature. Before you are transferred to a representative, she prompts you for the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, and validates it. You may recall that in my previous email to you, I mentioned that I had a few ideas to stop pissing off customers – this is one of them. “Claire” is horrible, and so is the queue system your representatives use.
6) I called in, navigated through the automated system, and finally talked to a representative who had enough brains to go back to August of 2004, and see why the contract was renewed on the account. She said that Sprint would honor the original contract expiration date of August 29th 2006 instead of September 21st 2006, and that she would put in a high priority note stating this fact. I asked if she could mail me something that states this, and she said she could not. I asked to speak with a supervisor, and I asked the supervisor the same question. She explained to me that the note could not be deleted from the system, and I attempted to explain to her that I have been a customer for 4 years and that I know sometimes (THAT, is an understatement) representatives make mistakes, and I would prefer if I had this statement in writing. During this explanation, I was hung up on, yet again.
Gary, you must understand that customer service is the primary part of any company, that people make a judgment on. You stick people with 2 year contracts (which is just fine) which cannot be broken, even if there is an issue with Sprint (which is not fine).
If you truly believed in the company you lead, you would have looked into these issues personally the first time I emailed you.
Please see the link below, which was recorded by a person who called AOL to cancel his account. I highly recommend you take a lesson from the great amount of media coverage that this got.
Dear Mr. [Jason]:
To completely resolve your billing concerns, I applied a credit of $77.79 to your account to offset the final balance. As a result, your account is closed and reflects a zero balance.
If you have any questions, you may contact our office by calling
1-877-875-7505. (UPDATE: 5/06/07: number has been disconnected) We are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m.
and 5 p.m., Central Time.
VIP Executive Analyst
Sprint Nextel Corporation