Dec 16 AT 9:02 AM Anthony Domanico 93 Comments

Six ways AT&T can go from last to first in customer service

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While it may be one of the biggest wireless carriers in the country, AT&T didn’t get there by leading the pack in customer service. In fact, Ma Bell continually finds itself at the bottom of the barrel, coming in dead last in the Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey for the second year in a row.

There’s at least one person out there who believes AT&T could easily become the nation’s #1 customer service company by this time next year. International customer service expert Laurie Brown thinks AT&T can go from last to first by following this simple, six-step formula.

  1. Make sure every customer is greeted, or at least acknowledged immediately, and sincerely.
  2. Change their policies. Don’t task employees with selling a new service or product during every customer encounter, especially not when a customer has a problem.
  3. When a customer does have a problem, or seems unhappy, greet them warmly letting them know you intend to solve that problem. Take ownership.
  4. Treat every customer as if they were a guest in your home.
  5. Train and empower employees. Employees should not always have to get a manager to solve a customer’s problem.
  6. Reward employees who come up with creative solutions to problems.

Brown thinks AT&T has their customers service priorities completely backward and can propel themselves to the top by following these six strategies, which are key essentials for good customer service at any company.

Though Brown is an international expert on customer service with over 20 years experience in the customer satisfaction consulting industry, we’re a bit skeptical that AT&T cares enough to try to turn it around. After all, they’re pretty much neck and neck with Verizon for the nation’s largest carrier spot, and aren’t exactly hurting for customers. Regardless, we certainly agree that AT&T needs to work on their customer service if they’re going to keep their place as one of the top two carriers in the US.

What do you guys think? Will Brown’s six-point strategy work for AT&T? Do you think customer service matters enough for AT&T to dedicate resources to bolstering their customer service efforts?

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • http://goo.gl/tQ2E wwJOSHdo

    People still pay AT&T ANYTHING? It’s time to change!

    • Nate

      I don’t have a problem with AT&T. I get good service and great customer service when I need it. I’m running the international version of the Galaxy S II with no problems!

      • Samar

        @ Nate – Looks like You’re one of those few lucky souls. :-)

        • Nate

          I think there is a more than a few ;) if their service was as bad as all android websites make them out to be, they would not have as many customers as they do. At the end of the day, go with the carrier that works best for you! if you haven’t tried a carrier, don’t bag them until you have.

          • tetracycloide

            It helps that you don’t need anything from them but their network. When I bought my S II in the store they added wireless insurance and roadside assistance to my monthly bill without telling me…

          • Jonathan

            I am with Nate. I have had Great service with AT&T. I am running on a unlocked Galaxy Nexus and I registered my IMEI with them no problem and they changed my 3g unlimited data plan to the fake 4g unlimited data plan without any problems at all.

          • Jonathan

            hit the wrong persons vote up lol. But I also forgot to mention I actually have left AT&T and came back and they put me back on my plan like I never left so I was able to keep my unlimited data. That should have not happen. I just cant seem to find a bad rep i guess.

          • superusermode

            Sadly, I’ve gotten far better service over the phone than the pushy sales reps in the local AT&T store. Had to fix plan twice after getting 2 new handsets there, once in the same day just minutes later, and once when the bill came and there were things on there that were supposed to have been taken off by the person that fixed it the first time. I’m not sure any of that can pale in comparison of the discovery of CIQ on the phones.

            I think it’s the long term contracts that really work against the customers. Sure you can pay an early termination fee and go somewhere else, but who’s to say you won’t have similar problems elsewhere? Usually you don’t know what kind of service you are going to get until you need it, and by then you’ve already found yourself committed to it regardless of the quality. Many people just end up staying with the lousy service because they don’t want to pay more money to learn if the grass is greener elsewhere.

          • YNWA

            Pretty simple comparison for me. My friend has an iPhone 4 on AT&T in San Jose, and every time I talk to him, our call drops. When I was down there visiting, I counted 15 dropped calls in 5 conversations. All on his end.

            Maybe in certain areas of the country it is no problem, but all my friends in major urban areas have problems with dropped calls. Maybe it is different with an Android phone, but still that is not a risk I am willing to take when I have unlimited 4G data and never have a dropped call on Verizon for around the same price monthly.

        • phaet2112

          When you go in and actually require something then it is a huge hassle- switching data plans from one phone to another requires new 2 year contract. Blocking data on phone requires multiple calls to get it to stick. Getting real answers about taxes and surcharges and contract questions is also a challenge.

      • Max Steel

        Seems like AT&T have deployed their regular blog bots like “Nate” to make them look pretty on the scathing blogs. Sorry, “Nate” but you ain’t fooling us.

        • TheBrizz

          Nearly 100 million customers, and they’ve continued to add new customers even since Verizon and Sprint got the iPhone, so yeah, you’re right; no one could possibly be happy with them.

        • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

          I’m a WAN data tech for a broadband carrier and I spend all day calling AT&T and Verizon to resolve T1 issues between enterprise customers and the LEC CO.

          I can safely say, I prefer calling AT&T over Verizon any day. While I’m not exactly calling an AT&T wireless service residential service line like people dealing with their cell phone problems are calling, but when I call Verizon to dispatch out, I can expect to hold for a long time (I held for 45 minutes on Thursday, and that’s an Enterprise customer line!) and if they don’t like the circuit ID I give them, they’ll hang up without so much as a warning. Then it’s a battle to get Verizon dispatched before the end of the day. Usually if it’s after noon they won’t even bother.

          AT&T on the other hand is usually quick to pick up, polite, and will generally resolve the issue before the end of the day.

          This might just be indicative of AT&T valuing its enterprise customers more. I have two friends who work for Verizon and from what I can tell they’re great at customer service, but when a T1 is down and I need a repair on an F2 cable, AT&T is way better than Verizon.

    • pritams

      My experience is completely different..and I would say I got the best customer support from ATT only..(till date..)..

    • Keefers

      F### att

  • glcraven

    If any cell service provider wants to become #1, they will first have to eliminate Verizon. I know a lot of ppl hate Big Red. But, every time I’ve had an issue, I have received exceptional customer service.

    • AsakuraZero

      not really, but as Brown pointed out, costumer service is really the turn down of many company of any service.

      even if the prices are a bit tad higher if you get great service you dont mind paying the premium fee, because you are getting back that premium anytime that you need service.

      sadly people thinks only in money, and in the wrong way, so its not happening anytime soon for AT&T that kind of reform for their costumer service and employees

    • Shadowlore

      Actually quite happy that SOMEONE is getting good customer service from AT&T… after all, I refuse to believe that 100% are getting terrible service.

      However, I can tell you from first hand experience that every experience I’ve ever had with AT&T has been a nightmare.

      … and I’m not exaggerating… I’ve literally had nightmares from dealing with AT&T. (I’m our corporate contact to work with AT&T for our POTS lines, T1s, Fiber, and all phones)

      • Donald Williams

        yea i have a guy at work that thinks att is the best provider and customer service out there thats why they are buying Tmobile and they sell his awesome phone the BB Curve. Nothing beats att at anything including phones in his eyes…. Yea he is an idiot 4 of us tried explaining to him the deal. Att will have their followers i guess

        on a personal note, im not a fan of att since the tmo buyout and the way it was handled. advertising that you already acquired tmobile when it has not happened yet. they lost me for sure even if it went through

    • LukeT32

      Agreed. I might pay a little extra for VZW but have never had anything but amazing customer service. On the phone or in store. I have been a customer for close to 10 years. Plus the cell service has also never let me down. In all the rural ares of the midwest I have always had the same number of bars or more then my friends on other carriers.

    • redraider133

      I agree. Any time I have had any issues verizon has always double checked with me and made sure I had no more issues. plus crediting my account on various occasions and sending me things like a free car charger and extended battery when I had a thunderbolt.

  • BiGMERF

    you just listed thing that every company can do to get better !

    • Kam_Pewter

      My thoughts exactly. Must be a slow news day. There’s no source for Larry Brown’s claim, and I doubt anything this vague can make ATT #1 in a year.

      As a matter of fact I, too, am an expert in customer service and I have a one-step solution to make ATT #1 in 6 months!

      1) Be better at everything than your competition.

    • newmexican

      Unfortunately also T-Mobile recently started to try to sell you additional totally unrelated services, when calling for technical problems :-(

    • Billy

      That is what I was thinking …. sounds like a pretty good rule of thumb for anyone. Ha!

  • stenzor

    Those like pretty reasonable and easy to implement points. I think with the increase of consumer empowerment in recent years, consumers have a powerful social weapon at their disposal.. Things like boycotting and telling everyone what kind of bad service they received through social networks and sites like reddit really affect the face of corporations. Therefore, I think good customer service is essential.

    • kazahani

      One thing AT&T can do to improve: Fire everyone and start over.

  • itzxdjx

    Att does have bad customer service, and I wish there reps where a little more trained on services and products 90 percent of the time they are wrong, and just about none of then believe me, the customer, and stick to there bad training.

  • Jim Nazium

    I personally would never be an AT+T customer unless I was forced to. For some reason, I view them as the quintessential evil corporation. I’m on T-Mobile now, and was not happy about the AT+T-Mobile merger on the horizon. Now that it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen, I’m sure I’ll probably get forced into something else I don’t like, but hey, at least it won’t involve AT+T.

  • n25philly

    They can’t go to first, they can’t buy everyone out.

  • securifirm

    Would never go back to AT&T. Tried their service out for 30 days and returned the phone and canceled the service. Over the next few months, they kept tried to bill me for service that I had canceled. Very poor customer service.

  • godVader

    ain’t hapnin.

  • kusine

    They could have retained me as a customer by not acting like I was crazy when I suggested that paying for a cellular plan and paying for a microcell to use *my own* wi-fi to make calls in my house was a little ridiculous. The employees could do nothing to help, even though they admitted there was a problem with the towers in the area which meant our neighborhood had almost no reception. I gave them every chance to fix the issue, but the only solution that they could see was for me to pay them more money to make calls on my own internet service that I also paid for.

    I will never, ever give money to them again, not even if they give out free passes to Disneyland with every bill.

  • http://flavors.me/clschnei clschnei

    My dad was forced on to AT&T’s network because of the Alltel buyout. It was the worst experience we have ever had. Moving over to Sprint this week because of unlimited data for $100 cheaper/month as compared to AT&T’s 2Gb data cap. It astounds me that people still are on the AT&T teet. Now that Sprint has the iPhone, those nuts can feel free to move to a better service.

    • GEB

      Except that sprint isn’t exactly know for their stellar service..both customer and network-wise. Have fun with those sloooowww data speeds.

  • Jim Johnson

    Those suggestion are ones any company should implement. It is always obvious to people farther removed from the issue.

  • Pickle

    Make it the number one priority, can those that perform below new standards, hold Leads accountable in their service center. In short, Military Boot Camp performance by all or you are “gone”.

  • zyphbear

    Honestly, this is very accurate to how T-Mobile had gotten so many awards for having such great customer service. They did almost everything on this list. They were always nice and tried to help whenever they could. If you had the rare bad experience at a store or with another rep, the new one would always more than make up for it by obviously trying to keep a friendly attitude even when there was little they could do to help depending on the situation. They obviously had some power to do things like giving out extra minutes or crediting a customer’s account up to a certain amount and did it when they felt logically about doing so.

    When I recently called in to check my ETF and when my contract would expire, the Rep seems to act like it was personal and it almost felt like I was calling to break up with the rep (I did get regular customer service, not the Retention Dept):
    TMo Operator (in very friendly tone): Thanks for calling T-Mobile, my name is (name), what can I help you with today?
    Me: Hi there. I’m calling today to find out what my Fee is if I was to break my contract now and when it is set to expire?
    O (in a defeated,sad tone): Oh. I’m sorry to hear you’re thinking of leaving T-Mobile. I know you’ve been with us for 11 years. If I can ask, what is making you consider leaving us?

    The call went on, basically the rep sounding sadder and depressed as we talked about that my signal was getting worse, calls were dropping, texts not being sent, etc. They even tried saying “maybe we can get you a replacement SIM card for free? That might help your signal issues.” I did explain I just got a new one a year and change ago, and also talked about getting me a new phone and such. But I did say I hadn’t decided yet, and that seemed to be enough to slightly cheer up the rep and was still very nice when we hung up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=583695634&ref=profile rahuly2k7

    Time to swtich to T-Mobile for the best customer service, and then merge back in AT&T for the worst! lol.

  • SOLID SNAKE

    Its not many choices so what are you going to do go with out a phone because you cant get what you want from a BIG BUSINESS…..

  • Darknight42020

    AT&T I believe are too set in their ways to change anything. I think they look at it as ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’, and will stick with that thought. I’ve been a many years customer of Tmo and except for their recent Ma Bell adoptions, have been overall pleased with them. I think all of them should take their example but am serious dubious about it.

  • Danny Calderon

    Profit and productivity are priority customer service is secondary

  • redman618

    Between you me and everyone else these all seem like standard practice that all companies should incorporate. Now I have AT&T my experience has not been a exceptional but it may not be as bad as everyone makes it out to be! Yes they news work, but I what company doesn’t??

  • Chad

    I’m not an AT&T customer but just by going off of A&M’s suggestions 1,3 and 4 – sounds like they treat their customers like poop, if this is true and can’t change their ‘tude they’ll never get to 1st place

  • Samar

    A&Me shud pass these on to AT&T. Looks like they forgot basic principles of dealing with a customer.

  • ramenchef

    AT&T CS hasn’t been bad at all in my experience. Not sure why so many people complain about it.

  • eliander mendoza

    I had a really bad experience with t-mobile the employee was mad? not in a crazzy way more like angry.

  • dcdttu

    AT&T’s 6 ways:

    1. Buy T-Mobile
    2. Buy T-Mobile
    3. Buy T-Mobile
    4. Buy T-Mobile
    5. Buy T-Mobile
    6. Buy T-Mobile

    • newmexican

      NOT, leave us alone with ATT

  • tonis79

    You hit the nail on the head when you asked “do they even care?” Of course they don’t…why should they? People are still willing to shell out their money to be treated like sh!t. I hate to make this about phones, but this all started with the iSheep and the fact that they just had to have that phone. Now that it’s on 3 carriers, maybe they will lose enough customers that they will have to make some changes.

  • Louis A

    They are that bad huh. Glad I never consider joining them.

  • YMS123

    Step 7. Lower outrageous data prices

  • Marc’us H.

    It’s not as easy as it sounds. I have mentioned I worked for AT&T a few years ago, and we went to training courses where they explained just this sort of thing and “change”. The primary issue isn’t IN store. It’s the companies policies as a whole. They train you to “get the manager”, or that everything has to go through a “supervisor”. No one makes decisions for themselves, because if they mess up it’s their skin, AND the manager’s skin. While understandable to a point, “free thinking” is almost frowned upon in the company and rarely passed up the rungs to the big offices.

    You know where they COULD start? Instead of spending millions and billions of dollars on trying to fight the FCC, DOJ, Sprint, and whoever else they’re in and out of court w/ over this stupid T-Mobile thing, BUILD BETTER TOWERS!!!

    • Lee Swanson

      Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head! Most people hate the dropped calls, dropped service, dropped data most of all.

  • Leisa Swan

    I started working for Cingular in 2005 and it was a great company, who was all about customer service, then when AT&T took over it was all about money, I hated my job after that, they made us into robots, having to say certain things, pushing products on customers, and they didn’t care about their employees! I saw so many good reps fired for stupid reasons, and bad ones who are still working there. I took pride in my job and treated everyone the way I would want to be treated when I called in for customer service to any company. There is a lot of training, but the not all good, sales, sales, sales. We were not sales people we were customer service, if I thought a certain package would help the customer lower their bill I would suggest it. A lot of problem is with people who work in stores or kiosks its all about money and making that sell, even with lying to the customer, plus having AT&T home customer service selling cell service and not knowing what they are talking about. I no longer work there I was fired for health reasons but still have their service for now.

  • BigCiX

    7. Start updating android devices in a timely manner.

  • Lee Swanson

    8, Improve your network so there is better reception

  • Adryan maldonado

    Yes absolutely that will help. I dont know about put them at number 1 spot but definitely help. Ive worked at 2 call centers and still at the second call center. I know what its like. I hate trying to upselll as they say and i dont like being upselled to especially if i just a pretty big if not even small problem and not you want to sell me something the nerve. anyways if they are not doing that now then they need to shape up.

  • Joshua Morgan

    It continually surprises me that AT&T is doing so well if so many people are getting such horrid service. I’ve had nothing but a good experience with AT&T.

    I can’t imagine too many people would just stick with a company that treats them terribly and word of mouth on bad products can hit the companies hard. So either there are a lot of people getting kicked around and choosing to keep getting kicked while they’re down or the numbers are a bit off.

    I have a semi-large network of friends and acquintences and I’ve heard more people complain about Sprint and Verizon than I have about AT&T.

  • kidslice

    How about:

    1) Fire all of the upper management responsible for customer relations
    2) Hire the upper management responsible for customer relations from T-Mobile
    3) retrain, reboot and get it right this time..

    • mark

      Good idea…hire people that are bankrupting a company!

  • mark

    “poor customer service” usually happens when a customer has no understanding of how the business works. Most people feel entitled to there “free” phone at all times even though the cell company lost money on that phone when they signed up. People can’t just get a new free phone phone every time they drop it in water or break it. If providing service to you doesn’t make a profit, it makes no sense to have you as a customer. Cell phone companies try doing everything Laurie says they should do, it’s just that people realize that no matter how unrealistic what their expectations are, the more you complain, the more you’ll get.

  • xshock

    The funny part about this is AT&T actually preaches those steps and more during training. As a former employee I can vouch for that. But it’s when you get to the store level to work is when the focus changes and it becomes all about meeting your quota getting those new contracts. It’s sad because even upgrading an existing customer to a new phone is not good enough in AT&T’s eyes at the store level. If an employee tries to give great customer service by taking their time to solve whatever problem the customer has they lectured about it.

  • Tony

    This story should have been titled.

    “Six Ways AT&T Can Go From Last To First In Customer Service, But Won’t”

  • Thomas Biard

    Even if their customer service is improved, their call quality/drop call ratio is still by far the worst (by national tests, not just my opinion).

    So if they improve their customer service, they still have to work on network quality and not making the prices go up if they don’t get TMo

  • Ryan Goldman

    1. Learn from Apples customer service.
    2. Learn from Apples customer service.
    3. Learn from Apples customer service.
    4. Learn from Apples customer service.
    5. Learn from Apples customer service.
    6. Learn from Apples customer service.

  • jst4tim

    All these steps would improve any companies CS not that I do not agree that AT&T needs to improve in this feild I have not had many issues with them in the past few years.

  • HoLfElDeR

    It is not going to happen

  • http://ilysespieces.tumblr.com Ilyse Rose

    I don’t understand why this is new information, that’s just something customer service should be doing in the first place, though it makes sense that AT&T needs it spelled out for them, they’re obviously the most lacking. And they tarnished TMo with their terrible customer service when the merger was in the works, TMo customer service used to be awesome.

  • http://genesischess.com/ MJM128

    The problem is AT&T should already be run this way, and if it isn’t that’s a big problem in itself. The other problem is that you can’t get every employee to act how they should, sadly. Then there’s the fact that a lot of AT&T’s problems don’t come from PR it comes from upper management and trying to screw their customers out of their money, their devices freedoms, and quality plans.

  • http://youtube.com/user/jawckamoe Marcus

    I have AT&T. And I really don’t like the way some of them treat customers. I really think they should take into consideration what Laurie Brown said. It’d make them a way better carrier

  • msgnyc

    Fastest way to improve ATTs customer service is to forward all iPhone related can to Apple or just drop the iPhone all together.
    In the years I’ve been with ATT I’ve never even had to call for support except when I had an iPhone….
    They are the carrier with the most iPhone users…
    Do the math. ;)

    Verizon had created customer service when I had them, but I always had problems and had to call them. It was annoying.

    Sprint was good too but they kept trying to hit me with bs charges and service indoors was never again good so I left.

    Never tried Tmo cause their service sucks in my area.

    • msgnyc

      Stupid auto correct.
      Can=calls
      created=great
      lol

    • msgnyc

      Oh and again=really
      Really Need to be able to edit our posts… Lol

  • thechad

    good luck

  • sgumer

    the ideas may work, but the hard part is changing the way people think about at&t as well as making the csr’s change the way they have been doing things. changing this will be hard but we will see if they can make it happen or even if they will try.

  • DroidPower

    Don’t see them changing for a while. They don’t need to. At least in their mind, people are switching to Verizon for better network coverage or to Sprint for the unlimited data plan option (if we only talk about the iPhones here).

    No one switches carriers because of poor customer service (because, to be honest, all the carriers and most retailers of any service/product can do better). Apple does it well, but then again they have the volume and the premium pricing to support it. There is no apparent incentive right now for ATT to step it up. Of course, I would love to see that happen.

  • megatec45

    #7 DO NOT INCLUDE USELESS BLOATWARE ON YOUR PHONES!

  • http://tinkerdad.blogspot.com xfaith

    I have had ATT for about 10 years and really dont have many issues with them. . Mind you I never go into a store to purchase anything, and rarely talk to them on them phone. Besides the plans being expensive (but all are so thats not a real issue).

    I have had a few issues about getting charged international because I work so close to Mexico. Bout the only pain about it is that I have to contact them monthly to tell them I work in San Diego and dont go down there. They can only go 3 months back.

    I did contact them about two weeks ago about my current plans, and upgrade time, unlimited data questions and they were helpful.

    But could have just been the person I was talking to that day.

  • dacatalyst41

    The best way that At&t could improve their customer experience is to STOP trying to buy T-Mobile in an effort to expand a 4G LTE network when they still have customer on *ahem* 2G EDGE!!! Help those customers before you upgrade your NFL cities to 4G. Their creating…..dare I say it…..NETWORK FRAGMENTATION…..who would’ve thought.

  • cb2000a

    Unfortunately a lot of corporations care very little about their customers these days (let alone their employees). ATT and others need to realize that to keep customers they need to really care about them. Service is what it is all about.

  • Melissa

    I’ve had bad customer service when I had their DSL and phone service. They’re a little rude and apathetic. They also jacked up my bills overcharging me and cutting off my service when it was paid. I hated them ever since. The wireless dept may be different, though.

    • Brandon

      excuse me apathetic? Our number one thing is to show ownership, you just unluck and got probably the new agents

  • Voliam

    I already experience at least 4 of the 6 points at my local ATT store. And I get that same “lip service” when calling 611. One glaring omission in that list (the ONLY one that ultimately matters), RESOLVE MY PROBLEM!
    I want my problem solved, and smothering me with love and compassion will not achieve that!

  • humidity

    Great list! Hopefully AT&T sees this site!

  • NasLAU

    If they follow these rules I might consider them if Tmobile seizes to exist. This is where TMO used to excel before the acquisition talks.

  • donger

    who knows when this is gonna happen or not.

  • Brandon

    I work for at&t, I’m a Tier 1 DSL tech support, and I know about customer support, out of those 6 new steps i can easily say I accomplish
    #1 all the time
    #2 is something at&t has to do
    #3 is already one of the customer’s rules anyway, so its not new
    #4 already do that
    #5 I have never seen that happen before, only when we have a question or when the customer asks for a supervisor
    #6 something at&t has to do, plus we are talking about customer service not employees benefits
    I’ll just say this though, the more irate you are when you call the less likely you will have 5 star customer service, or one that you think cause your so irate all you can think of is I WANT TO KILL AT&T, bottom line you will be treated how you treat us, just keep that in the back of your head

    • phyd

      Brandon – The point is that no matter how the customer treats you, you should have the training and expertise to be able to solve the customer’s problem. You don’t. None of you do and that’s why the customers are so irate. They are paying for a level of quality in service that they are not receiving.

  • Lynn

    ATT service sucked and verizon also, I have moved on to another service with good support.

  • Russ

    I have been an AT&T customer for 15 plus years.
    About a week ago I bought into a promotion for DSL and landline.
    I clarified with sales and billing rep. what I would be charged…

    AT&T tech support helped me “fry” my old modem while trying to install and register my DSL and was told I could only buy an ATT modem from the ATT store or I would have to (likely) forfeit tech-support. I went to the local ATT store and purchased the modem.

    Called later to re-confirm what I would be charged and AT&T operators could not tell me.
    After 4.5 hours of talking and hold time that I wasn’t sold what I was told…

    Finally got in touch with someone in San Diego (Manuel) and was told I could have a package that would cost me $60.00 more per year and if that wasn’t good enough AT&T would show me the door (so to speak).

    This all too place in July of 2013.

    Good customer service? Really?

  • phyd

    Another reason why I hate AT&T —

    OK, so I bought and installed a new HP wireless printer. Now I can’t get the Macy’s employee web site. Not on any browser. Nothing. Nada. I called AT&T and they had me on the phone for 2 hours and 3 technicians. Finally I succumbed to the pressure and bought the Connect Tech support program. The guy said he was connecting me via chat to a Connect Tech support person and to just hang up the phone and the tech would chat with me and solve the problem. I hung up my phone and waited. 1 minute, 5 minutes…I called them back and got a message that Connect Tech was closed and I should call back between the hours of 8am and 11 pm. Am I upset? Oh, ya.
    My neighbor’s 16 year-old-son fixed the problem in less than 10 minutes.

  • Amber

    AT&T has always given me great and fast customer service. whenever I have an issue, it’s easily taken care of and they’re always very nice!

  1. People still pay AT&T ANYTHING? It’s time to change!

    • NateGuest 3 years ago

      I don’t have a problem with AT&T. I get good service and great customer service when I need it. I’m running the international version of the Galaxy S II with no problems!

      • @ Nate – Looks like You’re one of those few lucky souls. :-)

        • NateGuest 3 years ago

          I think there is a more than a few ;) if their service was as bad as all android websites make them out to be, they would not have as many customers as they do. At the end of the day, go with the carrier that works best for you! if you haven’t tried a carrier, don’t bag them until you have.

          • tetracycloideGuest 3 years ago

            It helps that you don’t need anything from them but their network. When I bought my S II in the store they added wireless insurance and roadside assistance to my monthly bill without telling me…

          • JonathanGuest 3 years ago

            I am with Nate. I have had Great service with AT&T. I am running on a unlocked Galaxy Nexus and I registered my IMEI with them no problem and they changed my 3g unlimited data plan to the fake 4g unlimited data plan without any problems at all.

          • JonathanGuest 3 years ago

            hit the wrong persons vote up lol. But I also forgot to mention I actually have left AT&T and came back and they put me back on my plan like I never left so I was able to keep my unlimited data. That should have not happen. I just cant seem to find a bad rep i guess.

          • Sadly, I’ve gotten far better service over the phone than the pushy sales reps in the local AT&T store. Had to fix plan twice after getting 2 new handsets there, once in the same day just minutes later, and once when the bill came and there were things on there that were supposed to have been taken off by the person that fixed it the first time. I’m not sure any of that can pale in comparison of the discovery of CIQ on the phones.

            I think it’s the long term contracts that really work against the customers. Sure you can pay an early termination fee and go somewhere else, but who’s to say you won’t have similar problems elsewhere? Usually you don’t know what kind of service you are going to get until you need it, and by then you’ve already found yourself committed to it regardless of the quality. Many people just end up staying with the lousy service because they don’t want to pay more money to learn if the grass is greener elsewhere.

          • Pretty simple comparison for me. My friend has an iPhone 4 on AT&T in San Jose, and every time I talk to him, our call drops. When I was down there visiting, I counted 15 dropped calls in 5 conversations. All on his end.

            Maybe in certain areas of the country it is no problem, but all my friends in major urban areas have problems with dropped calls. Maybe it is different with an Android phone, but still that is not a risk I am willing to take when I have unlimited 4G data and never have a dropped call on Verizon for around the same price monthly.

        • When you go in and actually require something then it is a huge hassle- switching data plans from one phone to another requires new 2 year contract. Blocking data on phone requires multiple calls to get it to stick. Getting real answers about taxes and surcharges and contract questions is also a challenge.

      • Max SteelGuest 3 years ago

        Seems like AT&T have deployed their regular blog bots like “Nate” to make them look pretty on the scathing blogs. Sorry, “Nate” but you ain’t fooling us.

        • Nearly 100 million customers, and they’ve continued to add new customers even since Verizon and Sprint got the iPhone, so yeah, you’re right; no one could possibly be happy with them.

        • I’m a WAN data tech for a broadband carrier and I spend all day calling AT&T and Verizon to resolve T1 issues between enterprise customers and the LEC CO.

          I can safely say, I prefer calling AT&T over Verizon any day. While I’m not exactly calling an AT&T wireless service residential service line like people dealing with their cell phone problems are calling, but when I call Verizon to dispatch out, I can expect to hold for a long time (I held for 45 minutes on Thursday, and that’s an Enterprise customer line!) and if they don’t like the circuit ID I give them, they’ll hang up without so much as a warning. Then it’s a battle to get Verizon dispatched before the end of the day. Usually if it’s after noon they won’t even bother.

          AT&T on the other hand is usually quick to pick up, polite, and will generally resolve the issue before the end of the day.

          This might just be indicative of AT&T valuing its enterprise customers more. I have two friends who work for Verizon and from what I can tell they’re great at customer service, but when a T1 is down and I need a repair on an F2 cable, AT&T is way better than Verizon.

    • My experience is completely different..and I would say I got the best customer support from ATT only..(till date..)..

    • KeefersGuest 3 years ago

      F### att

  2. If any cell service provider wants to become #1, they will first have to eliminate Verizon. I know a lot of ppl hate Big Red. But, every time I’ve had an issue, I have received exceptional customer service.

    • not really, but as Brown pointed out, costumer service is really the turn down of many company of any service.

      even if the prices are a bit tad higher if you get great service you dont mind paying the premium fee, because you are getting back that premium anytime that you need service.

      sadly people thinks only in money, and in the wrong way, so its not happening anytime soon for AT&T that kind of reform for their costumer service and employees

    • Actually quite happy that SOMEONE is getting good customer service from AT&T… after all, I refuse to believe that 100% are getting terrible service.

      However, I can tell you from first hand experience that every experience I’ve ever had with AT&T has been a nightmare.

      … and I’m not exaggerating… I’ve literally had nightmares from dealing with AT&T. (I’m our corporate contact to work with AT&T for our POTS lines, T1s, Fiber, and all phones)

      • yea i have a guy at work that thinks att is the best provider and customer service out there thats why they are buying Tmobile and they sell his awesome phone the BB Curve. Nothing beats att at anything including phones in his eyes…. Yea he is an idiot 4 of us tried explaining to him the deal. Att will have their followers i guess

        on a personal note, im not a fan of att since the tmo buyout and the way it was handled. advertising that you already acquired tmobile when it has not happened yet. they lost me for sure even if it went through

    • Agreed. I might pay a little extra for VZW but have never had anything but amazing customer service. On the phone or in store. I have been a customer for close to 10 years. Plus the cell service has also never let me down. In all the rural ares of the midwest I have always had the same number of bars or more then my friends on other carriers.

    • I agree. Any time I have had any issues verizon has always double checked with me and made sure I had no more issues. plus crediting my account on various occasions and sending me things like a free car charger and extended battery when I had a thunderbolt.

  3. you just listed thing that every company can do to get better !

    • My thoughts exactly. Must be a slow news day. There’s no source for Larry Brown’s claim, and I doubt anything this vague can make ATT #1 in a year.

      As a matter of fact I, too, am an expert in customer service and I have a one-step solution to make ATT #1 in 6 months!

      1) Be better at everything than your competition.

    • Unfortunately also T-Mobile recently started to try to sell you additional totally unrelated services, when calling for technical problems :-(

    • That is what I was thinking …. sounds like a pretty good rule of thumb for anyone. Ha!

  4. Those like pretty reasonable and easy to implement points. I think with the increase of consumer empowerment in recent years, consumers have a powerful social weapon at their disposal.. Things like boycotting and telling everyone what kind of bad service they received through social networks and sites like reddit really affect the face of corporations. Therefore, I think good customer service is essential.

  5. Att does have bad customer service, and I wish there reps where a little more trained on services and products 90 percent of the time they are wrong, and just about none of then believe me, the customer, and stick to there bad training.

  6. Jim NaziumGuest 3 years ago

    I personally would never be an AT+T customer unless I was forced to. For some reason, I view them as the quintessential evil corporation. I’m on T-Mobile now, and was not happy about the AT+T-Mobile merger on the horizon. Now that it doesn’t appear that’s going to happen, I’m sure I’ll probably get forced into something else I don’t like, but hey, at least it won’t involve AT+T.

  7. They can’t go to first, they can’t buy everyone out.

  8. Would never go back to AT&T. Tried their service out for 30 days and returned the phone and canceled the service. Over the next few months, they kept tried to bill me for service that I had canceled. Very poor customer service.

  9. godVaderGuest 3 years ago

    ain’t hapnin.

  10. They could have retained me as a customer by not acting like I was crazy when I suggested that paying for a cellular plan and paying for a microcell to use *my own* wi-fi to make calls in my house was a little ridiculous. The employees could do nothing to help, even though they admitted there was a problem with the towers in the area which meant our neighborhood had almost no reception. I gave them every chance to fix the issue, but the only solution that they could see was for me to pay them more money to make calls on my own internet service that I also paid for.

    I will never, ever give money to them again, not even if they give out free passes to Disneyland with every bill.

  11. My dad was forced on to AT&T’s network because of the Alltel buyout. It was the worst experience we have ever had. Moving over to Sprint this week because of unlimited data for $100 cheaper/month as compared to AT&T’s 2Gb data cap. It astounds me that people still are on the AT&T teet. Now that Sprint has the iPhone, those nuts can feel free to move to a better service.

    • GEBGuest 3 years ago

      Except that sprint isn’t exactly know for their stellar service..both customer and network-wise. Have fun with those sloooowww data speeds.

  12. Jim JohnsonGuest 3 years ago

    Those suggestion are ones any company should implement. It is always obvious to people farther removed from the issue.

  13. PickleGuest 3 years ago

    Make it the number one priority, can those that perform below new standards, hold Leads accountable in their service center. In short, Military Boot Camp performance by all or you are “gone”.

  14. Honestly, this is very accurate to how T-Mobile had gotten so many awards for having such great customer service. They did almost everything on this list. They were always nice and tried to help whenever they could. If you had the rare bad experience at a store or with another rep, the new one would always more than make up for it by obviously trying to keep a friendly attitude even when there was little they could do to help depending on the situation. They obviously had some power to do things like giving out extra minutes or crediting a customer’s account up to a certain amount and did it when they felt logically about doing so.

    When I recently called in to check my ETF and when my contract would expire, the Rep seems to act like it was personal and it almost felt like I was calling to break up with the rep (I did get regular customer service, not the Retention Dept):
    TMo Operator (in very friendly tone): Thanks for calling T-Mobile, my name is (name), what can I help you with today?
    Me: Hi there. I’m calling today to find out what my Fee is if I was to break my contract now and when it is set to expire?
    O (in a defeated,sad tone): Oh. I’m sorry to hear you’re thinking of leaving T-Mobile. I know you’ve been with us for 11 years. If I can ask, what is making you consider leaving us?

    The call went on, basically the rep sounding sadder and depressed as we talked about that my signal was getting worse, calls were dropping, texts not being sent, etc. They even tried saying “maybe we can get you a replacement SIM card for free? That might help your signal issues.” I did explain I just got a new one a year and change ago, and also talked about getting me a new phone and such. But I did say I hadn’t decided yet, and that seemed to be enough to slightly cheer up the rep and was still very nice when we hung up.

  15. Time to swtich to T-Mobile for the best customer service, and then merge back in AT&T for the worst! lol.

  16. SOLID SNAKEGuest 3 years ago

    Its not many choices so what are you going to do go with out a phone because you cant get what you want from a BIG BUSINESS…..

  17. AT&T I believe are too set in their ways to change anything. I think they look at it as ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’, and will stick with that thought. I’ve been a many years customer of Tmo and except for their recent Ma Bell adoptions, have been overall pleased with them. I think all of them should take their example but am serious dubious about it.

  18. Profit and productivity are priority customer service is secondary

  19. Between you me and everyone else these all seem like standard practice that all companies should incorporate. Now I have AT&T my experience has not been a exceptional but it may not be as bad as everyone makes it out to be! Yes they news work, but I what company doesn’t??

  20. I’m not an AT&T customer but just by going off of A&M’s suggestions 1,3 and 4 – sounds like they treat their customers like poop, if this is true and can’t change their ‘tude they’ll never get to 1st place

  21. A&Me shud pass these on to AT&T. Looks like they forgot basic principles of dealing with a customer.

  22. AT&T CS hasn’t been bad at all in my experience. Not sure why so many people complain about it.

  23. I had a really bad experience with t-mobile the employee was mad? not in a crazzy way more like angry.

  24. dcdttuGuest 3 years ago

    AT&T’s 6 ways:

    1. Buy T-Mobile
    2. Buy T-Mobile
    3. Buy T-Mobile
    4. Buy T-Mobile
    5. Buy T-Mobile
    6. Buy T-Mobile

  25. You hit the nail on the head when you asked “do they even care?” Of course they don’t…why should they? People are still willing to shell out their money to be treated like sh!t. I hate to make this about phones, but this all started with the iSheep and the fact that they just had to have that phone. Now that it’s on 3 carriers, maybe they will lose enough customers that they will have to make some changes.

  26. They are that bad huh. Glad I never consider joining them.

  27. Step 7. Lower outrageous data prices

  28. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I have mentioned I worked for AT&T a few years ago, and we went to training courses where they explained just this sort of thing and “change”. The primary issue isn’t IN store. It’s the companies policies as a whole. They train you to “get the manager”, or that everything has to go through a “supervisor”. No one makes decisions for themselves, because if they mess up it’s their skin, AND the manager’s skin. While understandable to a point, “free thinking” is almost frowned upon in the company and rarely passed up the rungs to the big offices.

    You know where they COULD start? Instead of spending millions and billions of dollars on trying to fight the FCC, DOJ, Sprint, and whoever else they’re in and out of court w/ over this stupid T-Mobile thing, BUILD BETTER TOWERS!!!

    • Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head! Most people hate the dropped calls, dropped service, dropped data most of all.

  29. Leisa SwanGuest 3 years ago

    I started working for Cingular in 2005 and it was a great company, who was all about customer service, then when AT&T took over it was all about money, I hated my job after that, they made us into robots, having to say certain things, pushing products on customers, and they didn’t care about their employees! I saw so many good reps fired for stupid reasons, and bad ones who are still working there. I took pride in my job and treated everyone the way I would want to be treated when I called in for customer service to any company. There is a lot of training, but the not all good, sales, sales, sales. We were not sales people we were customer service, if I thought a certain package would help the customer lower their bill I would suggest it. A lot of problem is with people who work in stores or kiosks its all about money and making that sell, even with lying to the customer, plus having AT&T home customer service selling cell service and not knowing what they are talking about. I no longer work there I was fired for health reasons but still have their service for now.

  30. 7. Start updating android devices in a timely manner.

  31. 8, Improve your network so there is better reception

  32. Yes absolutely that will help. I dont know about put them at number 1 spot but definitely help. Ive worked at 2 call centers and still at the second call center. I know what its like. I hate trying to upselll as they say and i dont like being upselled to especially if i just a pretty big if not even small problem and not you want to sell me something the nerve. anyways if they are not doing that now then they need to shape up.

  33. Joshua MorganGuest 3 years ago

    It continually surprises me that AT&T is doing so well if so many people are getting such horrid service. I’ve had nothing but a good experience with AT&T.

    I can’t imagine too many people would just stick with a company that treats them terribly and word of mouth on bad products can hit the companies hard. So either there are a lot of people getting kicked around and choosing to keep getting kicked while they’re down or the numbers are a bit off.

    I have a semi-large network of friends and acquintences and I’ve heard more people complain about Sprint and Verizon than I have about AT&T.

  34. How about:

    1) Fire all of the upper management responsible for customer relations
    2) Hire the upper management responsible for customer relations from T-Mobile
    3) retrain, reboot and get it right this time..

    • markGuest 3 years ago

      Good idea…hire people that are bankrupting a company!

  35. markGuest 3 years ago

    “poor customer service” usually happens when a customer has no understanding of how the business works. Most people feel entitled to there “free” phone at all times even though the cell company lost money on that phone when they signed up. People can’t just get a new free phone phone every time they drop it in water or break it. If providing service to you doesn’t make a profit, it makes no sense to have you as a customer. Cell phone companies try doing everything Laurie says they should do, it’s just that people realize that no matter how unrealistic what their expectations are, the more you complain, the more you’ll get.

  36. xshockGuest 3 years ago

    The funny part about this is AT&T actually preaches those steps and more during training. As a former employee I can vouch for that. But it’s when you get to the store level to work is when the focus changes and it becomes all about meeting your quota getting those new contracts. It’s sad because even upgrading an existing customer to a new phone is not good enough in AT&T’s eyes at the store level. If an employee tries to give great customer service by taking their time to solve whatever problem the customer has they lectured about it.

  37. TonyGuest 3 years ago

    This story should have been titled.

    “Six Ways AT&T Can Go From Last To First In Customer Service, But Won’t”

  38. Even if their customer service is improved, their call quality/drop call ratio is still by far the worst (by national tests, not just my opinion).

    So if they improve their customer service, they still have to work on network quality and not making the prices go up if they don’t get TMo

  39. Ryan GoldmanGuest 3 years ago

    1. Learn from Apples customer service.
    2. Learn from Apples customer service.
    3. Learn from Apples customer service.
    4. Learn from Apples customer service.
    5. Learn from Apples customer service.
    6. Learn from Apples customer service.

  40. All these steps would improve any companies CS not that I do not agree that AT&T needs to improve in this feild I have not had many issues with them in the past few years.

  41. It is not going to happen

  42. I don’t understand why this is new information, that’s just something customer service should be doing in the first place, though it makes sense that AT&T needs it spelled out for them, they’re obviously the most lacking. And they tarnished TMo with their terrible customer service when the merger was in the works, TMo customer service used to be awesome.

  43. The problem is AT&T should already be run this way, and if it isn’t that’s a big problem in itself. The other problem is that you can’t get every employee to act how they should, sadly. Then there’s the fact that a lot of AT&T’s problems don’t come from PR it comes from upper management and trying to screw their customers out of their money, their devices freedoms, and quality plans.

  44. I have AT&T. And I really don’t like the way some of them treat customers. I really think they should take into consideration what Laurie Brown said. It’d make them a way better carrier

  45. Fastest way to improve ATTs customer service is to forward all iPhone related can to Apple or just drop the iPhone all together.
    In the years I’ve been with ATT I’ve never even had to call for support except when I had an iPhone….
    They are the carrier with the most iPhone users…
    Do the math. ;)

    Verizon had created customer service when I had them, but I always had problems and had to call them. It was annoying.

    Sprint was good too but they kept trying to hit me with bs charges and service indoors was never again good so I left.

    Never tried Tmo cause their service sucks in my area.

  46. the ideas may work, but the hard part is changing the way people think about at&t as well as making the csr’s change the way they have been doing things. changing this will be hard but we will see if they can make it happen or even if they will try.

  47. Don’t see them changing for a while. They don’t need to. At least in their mind, people are switching to Verizon for better network coverage or to Sprint for the unlimited data plan option (if we only talk about the iPhones here).

    No one switches carriers because of poor customer service (because, to be honest, all the carriers and most retailers of any service/product can do better). Apple does it well, but then again they have the volume and the premium pricing to support it. There is no apparent incentive right now for ATT to step it up. Of course, I would love to see that happen.

  48. #7 DO NOT INCLUDE USELESS BLOATWARE ON YOUR PHONES!

  49. I have had ATT for about 10 years and really dont have many issues with them. . Mind you I never go into a store to purchase anything, and rarely talk to them on them phone. Besides the plans being expensive (but all are so thats not a real issue).

    I have had a few issues about getting charged international because I work so close to Mexico. Bout the only pain about it is that I have to contact them monthly to tell them I work in San Diego and dont go down there. They can only go 3 months back.

    I did contact them about two weeks ago about my current plans, and upgrade time, unlimited data questions and they were helpful.

    But could have just been the person I was talking to that day.

  50. The best way that At&t could improve their customer experience is to STOP trying to buy T-Mobile in an effort to expand a 4G LTE network when they still have customer on *ahem* 2G EDGE!!! Help those customers before you upgrade your NFL cities to 4G. Their creating…..dare I say it…..NETWORK FRAGMENTATION…..who would’ve thought.

  51. Unfortunately a lot of corporations care very little about their customers these days (let alone their employees). ATT and others need to realize that to keep customers they need to really care about them. Service is what it is all about.

  52. I’ve had bad customer service when I had their DSL and phone service. They’re a little rude and apathetic. They also jacked up my bills overcharging me and cutting off my service when it was paid. I hated them ever since. The wireless dept may be different, though.

    • BrandonGuest 3 years ago

      excuse me apathetic? Our number one thing is to show ownership, you just unluck and got probably the new agents

  53. VoliamGuest 3 years ago

    I already experience at least 4 of the 6 points at my local ATT store. And I get that same “lip service” when calling 611. One glaring omission in that list (the ONLY one that ultimately matters), RESOLVE MY PROBLEM!
    I want my problem solved, and smothering me with love and compassion will not achieve that!

  54. Great list! Hopefully AT&T sees this site!

  55. If they follow these rules I might consider them if Tmobile seizes to exist. This is where TMO used to excel before the acquisition talks.

  56. who knows when this is gonna happen or not.

  57. BrandonGuest 3 years ago

    I work for at&t, I’m a Tier 1 DSL tech support, and I know about customer support, out of those 6 new steps i can easily say I accomplish
    #1 all the time
    #2 is something at&t has to do
    #3 is already one of the customer’s rules anyway, so its not new
    #4 already do that
    #5 I have never seen that happen before, only when we have a question or when the customer asks for a supervisor
    #6 something at&t has to do, plus we are talking about customer service not employees benefits
    I’ll just say this though, the more irate you are when you call the less likely you will have 5 star customer service, or one that you think cause your so irate all you can think of is I WANT TO KILL AT&T, bottom line you will be treated how you treat us, just keep that in the back of your head

    • phydGuest 2 years ago

      Brandon – The point is that no matter how the customer treats you, you should have the training and expertise to be able to solve the customer’s problem. You don’t. None of you do and that’s why the customers are so irate. They are paying for a level of quality in service that they are not receiving.

  58. LynnGuest 3 years ago

    ATT service sucked and verizon also, I have moved on to another service with good support.

  59. RussGuest 2 years ago

    I have been an AT&T customer for 15 plus years.
    About a week ago I bought into a promotion for DSL and landline.
    I clarified with sales and billing rep. what I would be charged…

    AT&T tech support helped me “fry” my old modem while trying to install and register my DSL and was told I could only buy an ATT modem from the ATT store or I would have to (likely) forfeit tech-support. I went to the local ATT store and purchased the modem.

    Called later to re-confirm what I would be charged and AT&T operators could not tell me.
    After 4.5 hours of talking and hold time that I wasn’t sold what I was told…

    Finally got in touch with someone in San Diego (Manuel) and was told I could have a package that would cost me $60.00 more per year and if that wasn’t good enough AT&T would show me the door (so to speak).

    This all too place in July of 2013.

    Good customer service? Really?

  60. phydGuest 2 years ago

    Another reason why I hate AT&T —

    OK, so I bought and installed a new HP wireless printer. Now I can’t get the Macy’s employee web site. Not on any browser. Nothing. Nada. I called AT&T and they had me on the phone for 2 hours and 3 technicians. Finally I succumbed to the pressure and bought the Connect Tech support program. The guy said he was connecting me via chat to a Connect Tech support person and to just hang up the phone and the tech would chat with me and solve the problem. I hung up my phone and waited. 1 minute, 5 minutes…I called them back and got a message that Connect Tech was closed and I should call back between the hours of 8am and 11 pm. Am I upset? Oh, ya.
    My neighbor’s 16 year-old-son fixed the problem in less than 10 minutes.

  61. AmberGuest 2 years ago

    AT&T has always given me great and fast customer service. whenever I have an issue, it’s easily taken care of and they’re always very nice!