Why Sprint's Customer Service Sucks: They Only Let Reps Adjust Billing Up To $3 Per Call (As An Average)

Sprint has such shitty customer service because they don’t give customer service reps enough leeway to disburse billing adjustments, nor do they provide enough support, asserts our inside source.

Customer service reps have goals to meet for every call they take UPDATE: This is the average reps shoot for per call, over time. You only get an average of three dollars per call to give back to the customer. Calls need to be under seven minutes. All companies have these metrics, but Philip says,

I have never seen any company enforce metrics as strictly as Sprint and truly give no consideration to impacting factors either…”

philip: Even a valid, justifiable adjustment (meaning we were crediting for our own mistake), specialists have a very very small limit. And if they don’t make the goal, they don’t get their raise. So it’s motivation for them to say no.
benpopken: is the limit per call, or per day, or what?


philip: Even a valid, justifiable adjustment (meaning we were crediting for our own mistake), specialists have a very very small limit. And if they don’t make the goal, they don’t get their raise. So it’s motivation for them to say no.
benpopken: is the limit per call, or per day, or what?
philip: The goal varies depending on Line of Business (be it corporate accounts, consumer general, retention, etc) but averages $3/call. Trust me that is not a fair amount or remotely realistic. Today in our manager’s meeting the VP of Operations made it clear that it would no longer be acceptable for supervisors to make adjustments for specialists (for instance a specialist might have a supervisor make an $800 adjustment for a billing error instead of getting disciplinary action for being over goal)
benpopken: $3 a call is nothing!
philip: And that amount includes courtesy credits (which are actually technically no longer allowed), billing corrections, etc; There are specialists [customer service representatives] right now who literally are scared to go outside for break because they are worried their badge won’t work when it’s time to come back. I see it happen every week.
benpopken: is that how they fire people? just deactivating their badge?
philip: Depends on how many people have to be let go that day and for what issue
benpopken: crikey
benpopken: climate of fear is no way to run a place
philip: If its an attendance-related issue then we make every effort to sit the specialist down and advise them that we have to sever their employment and what not. But in some cases it happens that they go out for a smoke break and their badge doesn’t work when they try to go back inside.
philip: There is a lady who is on four Level 3 warnings. Any day now she is going to be terminated for not meeting goal. She is the only specialist I have ever met that has never, ever failed a Customer Satisfaction call. It’s a shame because she is so wonderful at what she does and you see her break down and cry at lunch because she is going to lose her job for doing her job without regards to bureaucracy
philip: But definitely many people who come to work and really do live in fear of not being able to keep their call time at goal (usually below 7 minutes, again depending on line of business) or keep their adjustments at goal… And then at the same time, they are held accountable for CSAT Surveys (which is when a third-party company calls the customer back a couple of days later and asks them about their experience). It’s a very difficult job and Sprint really does not give specialists the support they need to take care of customers realistically.
benpopken: hm 7 minutes
benpopken: that stinks for them
philip: It’s hard to pull that off when a lot of people are calling in for the 7th time desperately trying to get that valid adjustment.
benpopken: so maybe if they gave more leeway on the valid adjustments they could save a lot of grief
philip: And here’s the thing- metrics exist in every occupation and industry and are extremely necessary to operate a business. But I have never seen any company enforce them as strictly as Sprint and truly give no consideration to impacting factors either.
benpopken: where did the metric obsession come from?
benpopken: gary forsee loves metrics?
philip: Gary could care less.

— BEN POPKEN

Previous leaks from our Sprint moles

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. mikesfree says:

    Wow, no wonder it took 6 calls to get my $1400 data charge correction fixed. Everyone said they would fix it.

  2. adamondi says:

    And to think, it only took me one 45+ minute argument with an Indian call center employee from Sprint, plus an escalation to her supervisor, to get an erroneous Early Termination Fee removed from my active account. Maybe I should feel lucky that I didn’t get a rep who had to stay under 7 minutes and under $3 for fear of being fired.

  3. TechnoDestructo says:

    I think I’ll be putting as many bills through my credit card as I can…I like the idea of at least being able to threaten a charge back.

    Just not my current credit card…fuckers changed to a 20 day billing cycle (what the fuck?), so I have ended up with two consecutive “late” payments. Except that last month I was told it was a 25 day cycle…then I went online and found they’d changed my rate, which when I signed up for the card (with Providian) was supposed to be fixed.

    Good fucking bye Chase.

  4. Coder4Life says:

    That must be why I had to spend almost 3 hours of their time, and 10 different phone calls to get rid of a $25 mistake on their part. Oh that is after threatning to cancel service right now if they dont take care of it.
    Gary Forsee needs to learn how to manage his company..

    Oh and currenlty I am trying to fight off a $241 overage charge, for the month i used my cell phone for only 25 minutes. I am sure I am pretty much out of luck on that one, some random charge they just stuck on my bill.

  5. SmoovyG says:

    I guess I’m just lucky, then. It took me two phone calls to get 2 free phones, a good chunk taken off my monthly rate an additional credit towards 2 bluetooth headsets and free text messaging. And the only reason I had to call back was because I needed to check with my wife to see what kind of phone she wanted. Of course, I’m certain that I had a little more leverage than average since I was nearly out of my contract and told them I was tempted to switch to Cingular for the iPhone…

  6. lore says:

    Every single time they have to fire a call representative, they have to bring someone in to take their place. This means there is a recurring training cost that Sprint has to bear — which can get high — instead of just loosening the criteria by which they grade their employees and keeping the same people employed. If people feel like they’re going to get fired, why would they be motivated to do a good job?

  7. FLConsumer says:

    If you think they’re bad as a cell phone company, imagine having them as THE local phone company. Terrible service, even worse CS. Pretty bad when Comcast has better reliability in the area. Not that Comcast’s reliability isn’t in dire need of improvement.

  8. Ass_Cobra says:

    “Every single time they have to fire a call representative, they have to bring someone in to take their place.”

    That is a very good point. I mean who do they think is out there that is going to do a better job? Perhaps if you are having to eliminate large portions of your staff on a continuous basis for not measuring up, your expectations are not realistic.

    GE is generally reputed to cull the herd by “offering a way out” to the bottom 10% of performers per year. Whether or not they can actually do this, is not important, but the idea of measuring your employees against eachother, not some arbitrary number handed down from upper management seems to make a hell of a lot more sense if you’re interested in keeping only performers.

  9. gorckat says:

    I used to work at MBNA several years ago (before the BoA merger) in TACS (Telephone Access Customer Satisfaction). The stress of the micro-management drove me to needing about 2-3 months off becuase it triggered a depression.

    The big metrics that affected reviews and bonuses were # of calls (based on a ~3 minute call and accounting for scheduled time off), sales transfers, ICR (intitial call resolution- having the person not call back for 72 hours), a random remote manager review of 5-10 calls and a side by side review. There might have been something else, but I’m pretty sure when they fired me after refusing to transfer me to another department those were the ones left.

    Even though I could nail the ICR, the call reviews and the number of calls, the fact that I refused to slam or decieve people into transfers kept me from getting a bonus every month except 1 (out of ~18).

    I absolutely sympathize with the woman who cries at lunch- I knew people like that too. It was considerably harder to fire people there, however- lots of hoops and at least 90 days of PFS- Plan For Success (how Orwellian :p)

    The one thing they did with fees better than Sprint does is have the expectation that ~$3-4 per call would be waived. I once waived nearly $1000 of finance charges because the customer didn’t realize he was using a card with no grace period. The only thing one of the director’s said to me (they did remote call reviews periodically, too) was “I probably wouldn’t have given that much back.”

    They did in fact write people up for not waiving enough money on occasion.

  10. Anonymously says:

    They should just outsource the work to prisons. If the prisoner goes above the threshold, send them back to the fields to pound rocks.

  11. TWinter says:

    @ RowdyRodyPiper

    Cutting the bottom 10% works well for the first couple of years, because you really do get rid of the worst people. The problem is when you get several years in and all the really bad people are gone and suddenly the “worst” people are now the large group that was once the middle of the pack who are reasonably good at their jobs and these people get scared and the atmosphere turns ugly because they feel they have to back stab to make sure that they make the cut and then the nasty atmosphere begins to drive away the really good people who want a better work atmosphere. But no one will stop the 10% cut or scale it back to a more reasonable 2-3% because it worked SO well in the beginning.

  12. shoegazer says:

    TWinter: That doesn’t make sense.

    10% get cut, obviously you would then hire 10% each year (more or less depending on requirements), and the tail end crap employees will always get culled. Doesn’t matter if it’s a stellar performer from 5 years ago.

    There is a similar ratings system at our consultancy, it promotes an up-or-out culture, and is generally accepted to be good practice. The only difference is the cut off is 30%.

  13. walkingirony says:

    Sprint continues to add charges to my bill that shouldn’t be there. Including international text messages which I never made. The numbers the provided me with were not international and those particular cell phones were not out of the country.

    I’ve called numerous times and minus the international texts, I’ve received additional credits more than the $3 suggested.

  14. lore says:

    @shoegazer:

    The difference is that at your consultancy (and my employer, as well) is that we’re paid a lot more than the low wage earners at these call centers. Our metrics are also not based on silly things like “how soon can you get this customer off the phone” or “how few refunds can you issue this week” but are instead based on well-defined metrics on what a top, good, average, and bad performer is at each staff class.

  15. Outtacontext says:

    If you want to discuss your bill with Sprint, never talk to frontline people. As to be connected with their retention department (presently called “Account Services”). They have all the power.

    Not only have I gotten refunds for misbilled amounts, I always request extra refunds for the time I have spent calling them about their mistakes.

    Here are some related tips.

  16. burnt_umber19 says:

    that’s very true, the metrices are actually 380 sec. average handling time and $2.30 for adjustsments, 11 % strategic close rate ( for sales of services such as vision, contract renewal, international plan, etc…)that means you have to sell these to customers…im working for sprint right now, and i dont have a choice but to keep my job.. i need my job, i hate how they give us these goals that are impossible to meet.. i feel bad for the customers really, and turn over for employees are fast too.. its like 6 out of ten people either quit the job or get fired…

  17. Shinjuu says:

    As an ex-Sprint employee, I am nothing but ecstatic that I quit. I worked at a Canadian call centre for Sprint and was in the customer service department. We did have pretty strict stats to keep up with such as handle time which was 475 seconds per call, transfer rate of 17% per day, and an average of $3 per call courtesy credits. The reason for such strict stats is that they are achievable if you actually work to reach them as in any other job. The handle time is an average handle time, so if a customer(cx) calls in with a problem with her bill it might take 45 minutes or longer to figure it out. Others may call in to see how many minutes they’ve used so far in a bill cycle. Such a call takes about 45 seconds. It’s all based on daily average. Sprint does strive for lower handle times but it’s not that we don’t want people calling in because that’s how the rep’s get paid. It’s that they don’t want to have the same person on the phone all day long with a rep for something that can be done in 4-5 mins. It’s based on first call resolution which is what we’re supposed to adhere to.
    The daily average is applied with credits as well. We have the ability to give a $25 courtesy credit which is completely at the discretion of the rep, and we can issue another $175 for sprint error for a total of $200 per rep. Anything above that would be handed off to a supervisor if it is a legit credit. So, again with the daily average, if I give 200 to one person, the next 30-40 calls I receive after that I might not need to issue a credit. So that would put me along with the rest of my team in our stats. It would all balance out.
    There have been many times that for an entire month I was over my limit for credits by $3400+ and I did not get fired. I didn’t even get written up. After four months of that I got put on credit probation systematically so I would have to get supervisor approval for the credits applied and hand it off to him/her to get fixed. Sprint never cared about giving money that was owed, it’s just for the people who are constantly calling in looking for it.
    Which leads me to the rating of customers by dollars signs. If a cx has a rating of $$$$$ that means that they pay their bills on time all the time. Someone with the exact same bill that has a rating of $ is someone who rarely pays their bills or pays their bills regularly just not in full leaving a carry over balance, is always looking for credits for something that is not a Sprint error. The $$$$$ cx’s are obviously more likely to receive a credit over someone with $. It’s based on their credit history with us and any invalid credits that are applied. Every account is entitled to one courtesy credit per annum, any mroe than one is considered invalid because it was not a Sprint error.
    So, going back to the beginning, which seems so long ago. Sprint call centres suck to work in. So does every call centre. It’s not Sprint that sucks. I don’t even live in the states but have been there and used their phones. I liked their phones, their coverage and I hated the job.
    With one last thought to end my novel here(ha ha), imagine if, on a normal day a rep who recevies anywhere between 65-90 calls per day and gives even a courtesy credit of $25 per call that’s $1625 – $2250 per rep per day. Multiply that by 700 reps that’s $1 137 500 – $1 575 000 a day per centre. With hundreds of centres worldwide, you have to realize that Sprint is a business just like anything else. They’re out to make money, not give it away. Just remember, business not charity.

  18. pcs says:

    internal sites must be more up tight than vendor sites.. i worked for a vendor site previously, we didnt have a per day or call credit limit.. we applied all credits for any invalid charges, if to high, the supervisor would. And obviously when it comes to courtsy credits, some customer are more valued than others, based on the amount paid per month, previous credits recieved, and amount of time being a customer. The bullshit about being fired, it was never like that. Not for me anyway. I applied invalid credits, and all they did was let me know how to do it right next time. And if all the metrics arent met just right, you still get a raise, i know for a fact i never met all mine but i got all my raises. but it’s obvious different sites have different rules/metrics because i speak with tons of customers that spoke to several reps before me and they wouldnt apply a credit for a setup issue on sprits part but i could get it done on that call. But there was a lot of mistakes made and a lot of customers fucked over, but you can search the web and find one of these sites for every us cell company, and every person will say something different. and every cell company is a rip off. and every call center sucks.

  19. marker64131 says:

    The poor customer service stems from overall bad management in Kansas City. I worked for PCS at it’s inception, before products were even available. My boss was a high-school grad that was cheating people out of overtime pay until she got her bonus (Sandy Holthouse). They laid off almost everyone in our department, but, promoted a fax and file clerk (Trish Browne) who came to work smelling like she hadn’t bathed in days, spoke with redneck hillbilly English, but PCS promoted her to supervisor anyway. She was cute and had big tits. Sprint North Supply is just as bad. They lay-off college grads and keep the high-schoolers for “economic viability”.
    VP’s are allowed to have 10-20 thousand dollars worth of office furniture (their asses are too special to sit in the same over-priced crap as workers). PCS outsourced to EDS people that cost 200 per hour and allowed them rental cars–even though they stayed in hotels 2 blocks away.
    Sprint wastes money left and right, and then try to “cheap out” on what’s important–their working staff and their Customer Service. They have the money for their name to sponsor NASCAR’s “Sprint Cup” and the new “Sprint Center” in downtown KC, but, they lay-off by the thousands. It’s Catch-22, profits aren’t there, and the way Sprint runs their business it never will be. Why do you think former CEO Bill Esrey ‘took the money and ran’?
    The poor service and products is a reflection of their entire infrastructure.

    Anyone that I know that had Sprint hated it. I was furnished a cell phone in 1996 and turned it in in 1997 and GOT A BILL FOR IT IN 2006?

    It took 20 plus phone calls to get the bill taken care of … RUN AWAY FROM SPRINT, RUN FAST!

  20. vikonava says:

    Actually in my call center in which I worked we couldnt transfer to department without asking supervisors thing I hated, we couldnt give adj only asking to the REAL supervisor and the metrics was $0.92 usd per call, handle time is 419 seconds per call.

  21. vikonava says:

    oh btw what marker64131 says its true, we are just high school students and supervisors tend to be girls with big tits and round asses. I did my work with great effort but never got promoted thats why I quit working at there

  22. Anonymous says:

    For complete customer care from Sprint, including billing concerns, you can contact Jaime Trevino at the Executive & Regulatory Department call 1-877-727-0665, Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central Time