Cellular Service Sucks

Canadian cellular phone companies really annoy me.  In terms of plans on offer, customers that are new to the provider get better deals than the existing customers.  It’s been this way for some time.  I was originally a Rogers customer and switched to Bell.  This was back when numbers weren’t portable so I had to change my number when I made the move but I was annoyed with the service and a clerk in a Roger’s mall kiosk admitted that new customers were offered better deals.

I recently went through a “hardware upgrade.”  I was nearing the end of my three year contract and after doing some research had decided to get the new iPhone 4.  I went to a Bell corporate store, and spoke with a clerk.  I told her which phone I wanted.  They didn’t have any but she took  my name and I was added to “the list.”  Apparently I was in the cue early because about a week after I was in the store, Bell started demanding a deposit before they would add you to “the list.”

At any rate, after waiting for weeks, I received a phone call from the clerk.  She said she had two questions for me, first, did I want the 16-gig or the 32-gig phone (my answer was I would take whatever they had).  The second question, was I a current Bell customer or would I be a new customer.  When I answered that I was a current Bell customer she quickly said she was sorry but she didn’t have a phone for me.  WHAT!!!!  OUTRAGEOUS!!!!

I phoned the 800-number to complain and was told they couldn’t do anything for me.  I phone back and complained to the store manager.  She explained that some phones are allocated to existing customers and some to new customers and then offered to see what she could do for me.  She phone back later that day and said there we no phone available and she couldn’t help me.  That was almost three months ago and I still haven’t received a call from them telling me they have an iPhone for me.

In almost every circumstance I recommend you look after your existing customers first.  It’s much better and usually much easier to get a larger share of a customer’s business that it is to win a new customer.  Bell had access to my activity with them over many years as their customer, how much airtime and data I use.  They know not only my usage and how much I paid them every year but they also know my payment history.

New players have entered and more are coming.  As consumers we can hope that the competition makes the industry better.  What did I end up doing?  Well I went to an independent dealer, got an Android phone.  I’m still with Bell but the plan they got me costs me about half what I was paying on my old plan.  Bell seems to put you on the plan that’s best for Bell while the dealer put me on a plan that’s best for me.

Are you Saving any Money?

I’ve noticed that some retailers are seriously understaffed.  I have gone into stores with the intention of making a purchase and left without the item(s) I needed.  I was unable to find the item and was also unable to find any help on the floor.  A few years ago when the economy was very strong it was hard to find staff.  Today, since the economy slowed, staff are available.  Why can’t I find help?

Some of my retail clients tell me they have benefited from the downturn.  They are able to get and keep good staff.  If a store has no staff on the floor they are cutting expenses which is false economy.  Good staff on the floor help customers find the things they need.  Well trained staff can also interest customers in additional purchases.

Your people are a critical component of your success in retail.  They are the point of contact with your customers and therefore they are the face of your business.  Jan Carlzon calls there interactions between customers and staff “Moments of Truth” which is the title of his book.  Carlzon was the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).  He empowered his front line staff to deal with a problem in the way that they would want the problem dealt with if they were the customer.  Under his leadership the airline experienced a dramatic turnaround.  When a store has no staff they sacrifice not only sales but the opportunity to make connections with customers.