Sprint issued a press release today that highlights a new customer service initiative for its retail stores. The new focus will be “a revolution in the wireless retail experience.” I think we can all agree, if there was ever a retail experience that needed revolutionizing, it’s the wireless retail store. But I digress. The real issue here is why do companies like Sprint seem to put the focus on customer service when times are bad? Seems to me that if customer service were a priority when times are good, the chance of those good times turning into bad times is lessened. Shouldn’t excellent customer service be a priority ALL THE TIME? Sprint goes on to say that this initiative is “Part of Ongoing Plan to Revolutionize Customer Service One Customer at a Time.” Good for them, but the sheer fact that Sprint is admitting that their customer service has to be “revolutionized” speaks to the problem. Memo to large conglomerates who service consumers with a product or service – take good care of customer service all the time and customers will take care of you. You won’t need to execute an expensive PR campaign to convince people of your new found focus on good customer service.
This is not a sweeping indictment on all service providers (or a rant on Sprint – I applaud them for addressing the issue). Some large service providers seem to be doing ok with customer service. I don’t know one that I would characterize as doing well – at least from a customer point of view. From a boardroom view, I’m sure many large conglomerates are patting themselves on the back relative to their perceived view of customer service success. And certainly smaller service providers tend to do much better with customer service. In fact, most of them use customer service as a competitive weapon against larger competitors. I also recognize that customer service does not scale well. The larger you get, the harder it is to do. But I guess the larger question is, why didn’t Sprint decide to make a customer service “covenant with new and existing wireless customers,” when they weren’t hemorrhaging a million plus subscribers per quarter?