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VoxPop: A Reader's Opinion
An Experience with WebTV Customer Service

By TomCrown
(May 23, 1999)

Steve Kass, aka TomCrown, is a customer service supervisor. In our last issue, he gave us his experienced view of how a Customer Service department should be run. In this issue, he gives us Part 2 of the story with a description and rating of an interaction with WebTV's Customer Service.

I would first like to start by stating three rules of proper customer service.

Rule #1 -- NEVER ever hang up on a customer, even if they are calling you names. Should a customer prove too hard to handle, then that call should be transferred to a Supervisor.

Rule#2 -- Treat each customer with respect. Do not lie to the customer, and give that customer your complete attention.

Rule #3 -- Expect cusomers to be upset and cranky. If customers were pleasant then there would be no need for Customer Service. It is understandable that someone would be upset since their TV, Video, or WebTV is not working properly and it is Customer Service's job to help that customer get his equipment to operate properly.

Now I will go over a customer service problem I had and show how WeCare handled that call.

I was calling WeCare becaue one of my dial-up phone number was a toll charge in my area. The first rep I got told me I have to contact my local ISP provider. When I told that rep that the statement was nonsense since WebTV is my ISP provider the rep announced that the phone call was being discounted since I was making no sense. At this point, I demanded to speak to a Supervisor and got hung up on.

This rep broke several rules. #1 -- you never hang up on a customer; in most CSR firms this will get you fired. #2 -- I was not treated with respect and was lied to, also the rep never took the time to explore my problem and instead hung up the phone.

After I got hung-up on, I called WeCare again and, when I got another rep, demanded to speak to a Supervisor. This rep asked what my problem was, and I told the CSR that I was hung-up on. The Customer Service rep replied that it was wrong that I was hung-up on, that I probably had spoken to the Collection Department, and said he was surprised that WebTV was not sued because of the illegal tactics that Collection used. I then told the rep that my secondary phone number was long distance; he told me that the problem was the fault of the phone company since the phone company had told WebTV that this was a local call. I told the rep since WebTV was in the Bay Area (Palo Alto), that everyone knew 510 is a toll call since that prefix is across the San Francisco Bay. The rep replied "here is your ticket number and you shuld get a reply in one month," and hung up the phone.

There were several things wrong with this call. In the first place, I was almost told to sue WebTV. A rep should never bring down a deptartment within the company. The second thing is the rep was never truthful; he should have told me that Customer Service is in Nevada and that they are not aware of how the phone network is set up in San Francisco. Lastly, I got hung-up on again.

After waiting one month, I received no response from WebTV so I called WeCare again and asked to speak to a Supervisor. The rep asked me what my problem was so that he could tell his Supervisor. I told him that my second phone number was long distance; he agreed and said that he could see that it was a Berkeley phone number. He then asked if I had any toll charge because of this second number and that he would try to reverse the charge. I told him I didn't since I would power off instead of getting a long distance charge. He asked me what my primary phone number was and said that he would report it to his Supervisor. He then gave me a ticket number and his name, telling me to ask for him If I did not hear from WebTV. He then asked if there was any other problem. I told him no and hung up the phone.

This third rep handled the call correctly. He showed concern for my problem, and then took responsibilty to make sure my problem would be taken care of.

WebTV did respond in two weeks by dropping the long distance phone number and leaving me with only one dial up phone number and a pop-up message that asks me to be sure this is not a toll call. I also now no longer have the ability of ever getting a WebTV video Spam. This experience goes to prove that WebTV has some of the worst Customer Service and it is the big reason WebTV is not growing very fast.

WebTV, just think. If you tried to service your customer, WebTV could very easly have a customer base of two million people. It is up to WebTV to make sure it provides better customer service, or it will be the next NetChannel.


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