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Every conversation is an opportunity. Even in a call center.

A close friend of mine told me a story about a recent interaction he had with the help desk staff at a large cell phone carrier. I thought I’d share it with you.

My friend has two cell phones, one paid for by his company and the other is for personal use. He’s been paying good money for a virtually unlimited data subscription on his personal device and realized that he’s rarely outside of a wifi hotspot. When he looked at his bill recently (something he rarely never does) his data usage just about floored him. He signed up for a virtually unlimited plan several months back and just now realizes that his usage was less than 100MB each month. And when he thought about it, he figured that nearly 100% of that usage was over WiFi.

So he called up his carrier on the phone and the agent said she couldn’t help him. She couldn’t help him, not because he’s locked in to a contract (he wasn’t), but because changes to data subscriptions for that phone must be done from the phone itself.

Pardon? A customer has called you on the phone for help, and you can’t treat this like the opportunity that it is and help him? What a waste.

I’m all for self administration on the device itself and I bet this carrier spent thousands of dollars designing the app. But when a customer calls in for help and you have them on the phone, why would waste such a valuable opportunity to serve their needs right then and there?

In the end, after some searching, my friend did eventually cancel his subscription from the device, but the interaction with the agent on the phone left him feeling uncared for, slightly confused and annoyed.

I want you to know that when you call us for help at Ting, we won’t let you off the phone until we’ve given you what you need, regardless if we have a self service way of doing this, or not.