Saturday, January 31, 2009

Being the CEO of Sprint (Dan Hese)

Considering the climate, I can see the rationale behind the new Sprint commercial where the CEO, Dan Hese, speaks about their new single solution plan that will save the customer nearly $500 dollars yearly. Anything to get the public thinking positively about CEOs and not about salaries and bonuses, eh?

Hese speaks in the dark of the city lights in a place of tranquility and happenings. He is tranquil; we are the happenings. Good pitch. Good commercial. But after the years of absolutely horrible service with horrendous time-consuming hours upon hours on the phone with Sprint customer service reps month after month, no amount of saved money would be worth the aggravation. My blood pressure rises a bit just thinking about Sprint.

Recently, my sister, Robin, picked me up to take me to the airport. When I got into her car she was in a very animated discussion with someone about her cell phone bill and service. She signaled both a cheery "hi" and complete exhaustion and kept on with the discussion. After having already spent 30 minutes on the phone, she would not be denied a justifiable answer and was terribly upset by the inadequacy of the customer service rep.

I believe she was transferred to two managers by the time we nearly reached the airport, making complaints about the reps and her service. One rep had actually hung up on her; she had me get a pen and paper to write down the name of the next rep should this one hang up on her. I did. Boy, did I remember those horrendous days! Maddening!

When she eventually hung up, some 20 miles later, I asked her which service she had. You guessed it --- Sprint! We began to exchange horror stories. I asked her why she stayed with Sprint year after year. She has 6 foster kids and a niece in a package deal who are away at school and thought it would be too much of a hassle to switch service. The hassle that I had with Sprint on a continuous bases with the customer service reps is what I didn't need. After my two-year-contract expired, I changed service immediately. What a relief!

The CEO's sales pitch will never be enough to get me back. I wonder how many others feel the exact same way about Sprint and a great many other companies.


dave wheeler said...


I work in the wireless industry and as a front line manager and trainer I am also quite frequently the manager our customers speak to. As a consumer and service professional I agree the quality of the service and support we provide our customers often times leaves a great deal to be desired. I also know how the words "NO" or the explanation of the bill often influence the customers perception of how well our reps are doing their jobs. I also see from the front line of a call center the barriers and challenges our reps have to providing 100% customer satisfaction and first call resolution. It often isn't because of the skills and abilities, it is the policies, work processes, and performance measures that stress quantity not quality they have to deal with. The longer the call, the better the service, the more likely you are to be disciplined for not hitting the metrics. A vicious circle indeed.

I must however say that although Sprint is a competitor, Mr. Hesse will make a diference in that company. He has been in the position a little over a year and it is difficult, if not impossible, to change an organization's culture in that short of a time period. Sprint however has the only true 99.99 unlimited plan that includes voice and data. They have also launched a 4G data network in two pilot cities now that will change the playing field if it launched nation wide.

Change can be a positive thing. Time will tell.

judith ellis said...

Thank you, Dave, for your comment and experience of the business--appreciated. But I must also say that as a customer I DON'T care about your "policies, work processes, and performance measures," nor do I care about "99.99 unlimited plan that includes voice and data" or "4G data" whatever in the heck that is, if every time I call I am aggravated and annoyed. Give me both good service and technology or give you death. For Sprint's sake, I wish Hese luck--I guess. :-)

dave wheeler said...

I agree that as a customer you should never receive anything less than 1000% service and satisfaction. The barriers to providing that level of service exist and as an external consumer customer you can really help us internal provider customers make a difference through your comments and feedback. Information drives decision making and the voice of the "customers" makes a difference.

For Sprint's sake, I wish him well too!

judith ellis said...

OK. OK. I will try to help with my feedback and comments. You can help us too with the proper attitude, answering the line in a timely fashion, and actually answering our questions, each and every one. I'm sorry. I don't think much will make me feel better after that Sprint experience. They have probably lost a customer forever.

By the way, I love this line:

"Information drives decision making and the voice of the 'customers' makes a difference."

dave wheeler said... me. Every class I teach and every rep I coach will be reminded that the basic levels of service you suggest are what we aspire to achieve. I will also tell them to treat every customer, every contact, everyday like they were talking to a person I respect and admire a great deal because if I ever find myself taking an escalation from one of them and I end up talking to you, there isn't enough hell to pay that bill for them! Real lufe stories and examples sell great in the classroom. Thanks for this one!

judith ellis said...

Dave - I have no doubt that you are a good teacher and coach, and that you assist in achieving the best possible levels in customer service. For this, we are all happy. Thanks.

Is there a rewards/incentive system in place?