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Dish Network Dishes Out Customer Service
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05/05/2012


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There is no other department in a company that is more important than customer service. From a brand standpoint, they are the front line during the worse times. No one calls customer service to say, “Howdy.” They call because something is wrong with their service or bill, and YOUR COMPANY is to blame. Typically, people who call are frustrated, angry and downright homicidal.

I’m working on getting better.

Now, as a company, you can look at customer service as 1) something you have to do, or 2) an investment in the future business of your customer. The later means you view these encounters as opportunities to ease your customer’s pain. Be a hero, if you will. American Express gets the latter. I’ve never had a bad exchange with AMEX — even when I was completely wrong. They maintain a friendly, calm, professional and helpful tone. After my calls with them I either feel good (because they helped me) or guilty (because I was wrong and they were still helpful).

Gandhi understood this better than any one.

Nordstrom is cut from the same cloth, but they do it in person. I went to the Galleria Houston location to buy a pair of shoes. They didn’t have them in my size in stock, so the sales guy walked over to his computer, ordered them and had them shipped to my house. They know that customer service is everyone’s job.

If I was really rich, I’d make a special trip to Nordstrom just to buy paper clips if they sold them.

They ought to have a <br>Nordstrom University <br>where you can get a <br>masters in customer service.

One of the greatest (or worse) inventions in technology in the customer service space is Live Chat. I really like that it’s somewhere between a phone call and email. You write something, go attend to something else, come back, see a response, reply and repeat. But the best thing is you have a written record of the exchange if you want it. Perhaps for your blog. The downside is that it’s just as impersonal as email, but it’s live. People tend to get more testy on email than on a phone call because you can’t hear inflections in their voice. Then you have something in writing. For, say, your blog.

So, here’s the back story: I cancelled my Dish Network account in January. They tried to downgrade me, but I had already signed up with AT&T U-verse (all you U-verse haters can just stop now — I’m committed), so it wasn’t an option. I know I cancelled because Dish deactivated access to my online account. I called them and asked them to first confirm that my account was cancelled and then to find out what to do with my equipment. They told me that they would be sending me boxes to ship them back. I have no doubt that I canceled my service. I have the notes to prove it.

So, in the spirit of fairness, here’s my conversation with Dish Network via Live Chat. By just reading this, how could they have handled it differently? Or did they handle it as well as they could? Did they communicate a good brand experience or bad one? Feel free to tell me that I was jerk. I don’t mind; I’m trying to get better.

Dish can dish it out, but can they take it?

— CONVERSATION STARTS —-

Johnny (ID: LEP): Hi, my name is Johnny (ID: LEP). How may I help you?

Johnny (ID: LEP): Good Afternoon Mark!

Mark Hayden: Hi Johnny, I got a bill from Dish today, but I cancelled my service back in early january. Can you help?

Johnny (ID: LEP): I will be happy to assist you with your request regarding your account status.

Johnny (ID: LEP): For security purposes, would you please verify the last four digits of the Social Security Number on the account?

Mark Hayden: I also have equipment to send back to you and was told that I would receive boxes to that. I haven’t gotten those either. Last 4 digits is xxxx

Johnny (ID: LEP): Okay thank you Mark.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Please give me a minute to check that for you.

Mark Hayden: No problem. Take your time.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Thank you.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Thank you for your patience.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Mark the account hasn’t been disconnected yet Mark.

Johnny (ID: LEP): You contacted in the month of January to cancel services.

Mark Hayden: Yes.

Johnny (ID: LEP): We suggested to downgrade the programming package to Dish Family.

Mark Hayden: they told me my account was inactive. I called again to ask about what to do with the equipment. Downgrading wasn’t an option since I changed providers.

Johnny (ID: LEP): As of now your account is active.

Johnny (ID: LEP): What exactly are you looking for now Mark?

Mark Hayden: Your records are inaccurate. I canceled my account in January. I called a few weeks later to ask about what to do with the equipment. I was told by the CSR that Dish would be sending boxes out to send the equipment back. I need you to retroactively cancel the account and send me the boxes the CSR promised so that I can send you your equipment.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Òkay I understand.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Your satisfaction is very important to us, so I would like to transfer you to an account specialist for further assistance.

Johnny (ID: LEP): Please stay online while I transfer.

Johnny (ID: LEP) has disconnected.

Nicole (ID: 257): Hi, my name is Nicole (ID: 257). How may I help you?

Nicole (ID: 257): I will be handling your request today. Please give me a moment to access your account and review your conversation with the previous agent.

Nicole (ID: 257): I am sorry I do not show any notation that the account was to be cancelled in January. I would be able to cancel the account as of today forward.

Mark Hayden: Like I said, your records are inaccurate. I cancelled this account in January.

Mark Hayden: Your records should show that I called back to find out about the boxes. My online account has been inactive for more than a month.

Nicole (ID: 257): I am sorry I do not show any notation that the account was to be cancelled in January. I would be able to cancel the account as of today forward.

Nicole (ID: 257): I cannot backdate the account if there is no notation to support this, I am sorry,.

Mark Hayden: We’re at an impass then. This is unacceptable. Do you show that my unit was disconnected?

Mark Hayden: Why would your customer service people tell me that they are sending me boxes to put my equipment in to send back?

Nicole (ID: 257): No, we are not able to see this. We cannot see that you are or are not using the service.

Nicole (ID: 257): I can only see if the account is active or disconnected. At this time it is active.

Mark Hayden: I CANCELLED THE ACCOUNT IN JANUARY! WHY IS IT MY PROBLEM THAT YOU HAVE INACCURATE RECORDS!?

I was fit to be tied ... to this guy.

Nicole (ID: 257): I cannot backdate the account if there is no notation to support this, I am sorry.

Nicole (ID: 257): I show no orders made for boxes to be shipped out. I can cancel the service as of today,.

Nicole (ID: 257): Here is what will happen now that your service is going to be cancelled. Boxes will be shipped to you as a courtesy by UPS so you can return the equipment. You will need to return the receivers, smart cards, remotes and LNBF (It is the eye piece on the arm of the dish. It is only attached by a couple of screws, and can be removed with a screwdriver).

Nicole (ID: 257): There will be instructions in the boxes about what needs to be returned. The boxes will be there in 7 to 10 business days after the disconnect date. There is a $17 shipping charge if you chose to use the return shipping label we provided to return your equipment. We do this to make the process as convenient as possible for you. Keep in mind that you generally save money by using our packaging, as itʼs only $17 per shipping label which is as low as half the cost of other couriers

Nicole (ID: 257): With this promotion you have 30 days from the disconnect date to return the equipment. If we do not receive the equipment within the 30 day period, you will be charged for the full price for the equipment which ranges between $100.00 and $400.00. The charge for the equipment will be placed on your account and/or charged to the debit or credit card we have on file for your account. Could you please confirm your shipping address so we can make sure the boxes reach you?

Mark Hayden: Here is what you can do: You don’t have to backdate the cancellation, but you could credit the last bill. Can you do that?

Nicole (ID: 257): No I am sorry I cannot. The charges would stop on the account as of today.

Nicole (ID: 257): Could you please confirm your shipping address so we can make sure the boxes reach you?

Mark Hayden: xxxx xxxxxx Ct. xxx, TX xxxx.

Nicole (ID: 257): Thank you one moment.

Mark Hayden: This is utterly rediculous. I’m going to dig up my notes when I spoke to a customer service rep in January. That’s evidence that I cancelled this service. The fact that you are digging in your heels on this is unfortunate.

Nicole (ID: 257): You are all set. I am sorry that you feel this way, but there are polices an procedures that I must abide by.

Nicole (ID: 257): Is there anything else I may assist you with?

Mark Hayden: What about a supervisor? Can he help with this?

Mark Hayden: Hello…?

[They finally came back and told me that if I wanted to talk to a supervisor, I had to call a customer service line. Thanks, Dish!]

— END OF CONVERSATION —

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