A man who worked on the front line of Sprint’s customer service department sent us some dirt on what goes on over there, including officially designated fake supervisors, obnoxious personal notes left in your account from your last call, and credit quotas of about $2.50 per call. “I was once punished by a Supervisor and written up because I was giving too many courtesy credits. Apparently Sprint doesn’t feel that being transferred 7 times and then hung up on is worth $10 in return.”
I’m a former Sprint CSR (left in February this year) and I thought I’d shed some light on how things work in that company. Feel free to post this, but I’d appreciate it if you did not use my name.
Agents are trained NOT to escalate calls – Ever been frustrated when you repeatedly ask for a Supervisor but do not get one? Call center agents at Sprint are trained to try and de-escalate calls and only get a Supervisor for you if absolutely necessary. Some agents will do this to the extreme and either transfer you away or disconnect your call rather than actually get a supervisor for you. Also, the chances of being directly transferred to a supervisor are slim, you almost always have to go through an agent first.
Also, if you do get speaking to a “Supervisor” you may not be speaking to a supervisor at all but rather a team lead, a senior agent who is not a supervisor but does take escalated calls and is authorized to identify him or herself as a supervisor when doing so.
Agents can be punished for giving credits – We are expected to give credits at a rate of no more than around $2.50/call. That means if I take 50 calls I’m expected to give no more than $125 in credits TOTAL. I’ve seen instances where over $400 in credits were required ON A SINGLE CALL. If our adjustment rate is too high, we are first blocked from being allowed to do ANY credits or straight out fired if there is a pattern of us being too generous.
As a result of these controls, you might notice that a call you’re on will magically be transferred or disconnected if a large credit is involved. Anything over $200 will likely have to be called in about multiple times.
Also we are prohibited from giving out courtesy credits for ANYTHING. The most we can give is 100 bonus minutes. Yep, that’s it. I was once punished by a Supervisor and written up because I was giving too many courtesy credits. Apparently Sprint doesn’t feel that being transferred 7 times and then hung up on is worth $10 in return.
We can’t give you any deals on phones – Standard Sprint Care reps are prohibited from offering any extra discounts on phones or free phones when you are not eligible for upgrade. We can be severely punished or fired if we give unauthorized discounts or credits on phones.
If you want a deal on a phone, call up and threaten to cancel. You’ll get to our account services department. They have more power than any other department to make deals for phones.
As long as our coverage maps show you have coverage, you have coverage – Even if you drop calls constantly and can barely get a signal in your own home, good luck trying to escape an Early Termination Fee due to this. If the coverage maps show you have coverage, that’s good enough for Sprint, regardless of what the actual situation is.
A while back a customer called in with the situation above (virtually no coverage) and asked the supervisor if he could waive the ETF. The supervisor asked if the man had coverage according to our maps. Agent said he did. Supervisor’s reply “he’s out of luck then, he has to pay the fee.”
If it’s not in the notes, it didn’t happen – VERY few calls are actually recorded, and of those that are, reps don’t have access to them. Only supervisors do. The calls are organized by length of call and the ID number of the agent who took the call, not by the phone number it was regarding or the account number accessed.
The only thing agents have to go on are the typed notes in the system. Even if the notes are blatant lies. For example, a rep can give you a credit that results in a contract extension without you knowing. Then he notes in the account “customer agreed to extend contract”, you call in to dispute said extension, having never agreed to it and unfortunately you are screwed since the notes say you did agree to it and even Supervisors are required to follow what they say.
You can also get screwed if there are no notes (something VERY common). Let’s say you get offered anything outside the ordinary (i.e. free internet on your phone for a year), but it doesn’t show on your next bill. If you call and say you were supposed to get it for free but there are no notes, do not expect Care to honor what you were promised. As far as they are concerned, you were promised nothing because nothing is in the notes. If you want to know what’s contained in your account notes, good luck. Reps may relay certain details of certain notes on the call. Sprint considers this confidential information and will not release them unless required to under a subpoena.
Also the reps may be saying nasty things about you, I’ve seen the following opinionated notes:
“BEWARE! This customer is racist!”
“Customer is pathetic.”
“Customer is very rude, kept cussing me out and didn’t give me a chance to talk.”
“Customer is a credit junkie! He just keeps calling up for more and more.”
Officially agents are not supposed to put these kinds of notes in accounts, but it happens all the time.
Most agents don’t care much about their jobs – At the center I worked at, the only qualifications you needed for employment were a high school diploma and the ability to speak decent English. Call center agents are frequently under trained, under paid and over worked. The reason you get transferred, treated rudely and disconnected so many times is that there are simply a lot of agents who don’t give a crap about the customers AND keep their jobs simply because they are willing to sit at a desk and take calls for 8 hours a day.
Another reason is the turnover is so high there’s a large percentage of lesser trained agents working the phones.
It’s not always easy to get transferred back – We can’t give out the number for our tech support department (as well as certain other departments) so if you get transferred there and your call drops, you have to call back to be transferred again. HOWEVER, we can’t just simply transfer you back. We must verify your account again, find out what the issue is and determine that it is something that we can transfer you back there for.
It seems unbelievably stupid, but I once got a FAIL on a quality assurance review because a customer asked to be transferred to a certain department and I transferred him, without taking any of the steps mentioned above.
Agents can get away with hanging up on customers – Officially, hanging up on a customer is a fireable offense, however it’s shockingly easy to get away with if you know what you are doing and many agents do it frequently and never get caught. I admit I did it too on several occasions (for example when I was already 20 minutes late leaving and the customer was driving me crazy). At my center there were agents terminated for swearing at a customer, but I don’t know of anyone who was ever fired for hanging up on one.
Quality Assurance is NOT the customers friend – QA is not a tool to ensure agents are providing good customer se
rvice so much as a mechanism to ensure employees are following policy. Let’s say you were promised a $50 credit but it wasn’t noted and you never got it so you called back in to make sure it was done. I refuse to do it because it’s not noted and you can’t prove you were offered it. Even if that call gets escalated to a Supervisor, I can still get a perfect QA score on it because I followed policy. Conversely, I can FAIL that same call if I just give you the credit when according to policy you are not deserving of it.
The items above are based on my experiences as a CSR and do not always ring true. There are agents who will never hang up on customers and do care about their jobs, there are reasonable Supervisors who will sometimes go against the notes and we are sometimes permitted to offer extra discounts and specials, but these instances only happen I would say on a 1:5 ratio where the 5 represents the number of customers who get trapped by the issue.
The takeaway: if your experience with customer service isn’t quite what you’d expect, you can thank Official Corporate Policy. Combined with our insider’s view of outsourced quality assurance from a couple of weeks ago, a grim picture is emerging of “customer service” that exists in name only, and that’s driven by a faceless, top-down set of policies designed to ensure that nobody involved with the transaction ends up happy.