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Update on Citi and Rogers

June 13, 2010
Mary Jane Copps

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I can attest to the fact that most entrepreneurs, at least the one’s I meet and spend time with, are always conscious of customer service. It’s fresh in their minds how hard they worked to win each customer’s trust, and they remain fully aware that if they lose a customer it will be 10x the work to get them back. Somehow though as company’s get larger and customer service gets farther and farther removed from the entrepreneur that started it all, things get a bit hazy and, in some cases, downright ridiculous. A few weeks ago (in Post 1072) I shared with you a telephone experience I had with Citi MasterCard. I got lots of good feedback on that post from readers, but none from Citi. Not a surprise really, but if you know me, you know I’m always hopeful. Anyway, I fully expected those phone calls to be the end of my Citi experience but …while tidying up my little “mail table” at home this weekend, I found a letter from them dated June 5. It starts out well enough, thanking me for filling out the application, giving me their business hours and then there’s this sentence: “Unfortunately, if we don’t hear from you in the next 30 days, we will have to decline you application.” It ends with a printed close: “Sincerely, Application Processing”. Although there are dozens and dozens of sarcastic comments tumbling around in my brain, I must say the strongest image is one of me teaching clients to leave the following message in prospects’ voicemail “Unfortunately, if you don’t call me back then you can’t ever be my customer.” As I write this it reminds me of being a little kid and somebody getting in a snit over an outdoor game with neighbours. Eventually someone would cross their arms over their chest and say “You can’t play in my yard anymore.” Who knew that they were a protégé for large corporation customer service! And I do want to update you on Rogers (Post 1073). I now have my Blackberry. It arrived on Thursday. And, right or wrong, I’m still with Rogers, all because someone named Bonnie understands customer service. All the details are below. Even though I got my Blackberry, I just had to get the incident in front of senior Rogers executives – the whole experience was just too ridiculous to keep to myself. So I’ve also included their response to my email. “Dear Marketa,

First, many thanks for taking my call this afternoon and providing me with your email address. As I mentioned, my specific situation has been resolved but the experience I have had with Rogers was so disappointing I felt obliged to share the experience with the senior executive.

I have the very good fortune of owning a company that is growing and, as a consequence, I am travelling more. Although I’d said in the past I would never own a Blackberry, it was obvious to me in early May that I had to make this change.

I phoned Rogers on May 4 and spoke to Mike. It is certainly possible that Mike was in sales and not in customer service. I told him that my business was growing and I needed to organize a Blackberry. He looked at my file and said there was nothing he could do. My current contract expired on August 6 and until then, he could not do anything for me. I did find this a bit ridiculous as I was on the phone, ready to sign a new three-year contract but because my existing contract had 60 days left on it Rogers was not interested in working with me.

After Mike and I finished speaking I did write an email to customer service letting Rogers know I thought it was foolish to walk away from my business. I did receive an email back from Sabrina (I can provide this for you if necessary) saying she would check into it and directing me to the hardware upgrades section of the Rogers website. On May 5 I received a second email from Sabrina and, basically, she agreed with Mike: ” Upon review of your account, I am able to confirm that you are currently not eligible to process a hardware upgrade to Blackberry device or another Smartphone. You would have to wait until August 6th to process your upgrade. When upgrading to a Smartphone you have to fulfill the 24 month requirements to receive the device at a discounted price.”

Having been a Rogers customer in good standing since 2003 I wasn’t impressed with this answer. In fact, I wrote about the experience on my corporate blog. It is post 1073 and you can scroll down to my comments by clicking on this link: bit.ly/bHvkg6.

At this point I had to turn my attention to travel and meetings in Toronto but knew I had to organize the Blackberry at my earliest opportunity. Yesterday I phoned Rogers and spoke with Bonnie to find out how much was needed to buy out my existing contract. It was obvious to me that in order to get the Blackberry I would have to move to Bell or Telus. When Bonnie told me that the amount was $280 I laughed and commented how silly it was for Rogers to be letting me go as a customer for $280.

Fortunately, Bonnie knows about customer service. She asked me some questions, listened to my story and put me through to Suzanne in customer service who answered the phone with “I understand you want to organize a Blackberry.”

So, now I do have a Blackberry on its way to me, but only because I phoned to organize the end of my relationship with Rogers. In between my first call on May 4 and my call yesterday I have attended two conferences and dealt with inadequate wireless communication.

I know Rogers is a large corporation. I know that my monthly bill is a pittance in terms of Rogers big picture. But to tell me you can’t help me because of 60 days left on a contract when I’m willing to sign a new three-year contract – that can’t be policy. It shouldn’t be policy. It doesn’t make sense in terms of customer service and it also doesn’t make fiscal sense.

One of the companies I have a relationship with is SilverLining in Toronto and Rogers works with them as well. Why? Apparently because Rogers wants to know more about entrepreneurs, cultivate them as customers, fulfill their needs. My experience certainly doesn’t indicate that this holds any truth. Entrepreneurs need to work with companies that can be flexible, work with their needs as they grow.

I did make the decision to stay with Rogers. Why? Because I’m off soon for another week of business travel and changing providers was going to cost me time and money. I hope I’ve made the right decision.

And I hope this email is helpful to you. ” And here’s Marketa’s reply: “Dear Mary Jane:

It was a pleasure to speak with you on Wednesday. Thank you very much for sending your email to me and once again, please accept our apologies for the inadequate customer service you have experienced. Your business is very important to us and I am truly glad that you’ve received the help you needed in time before we lost you.

For your information I have forwarded your comments to Peter Berczi for any coachback opportunities.

Best regards,

Marketa” I’ll keep you informed if there’s another chapter to this story. Next week I’m in PEI delivering four workshops but will be enjoying sun and sand in between, so next blog will be June 27. Happy phonework everyone!

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