Over the weekend I bought my son a Virgin Mobile prepaid Android phone at Target. It was a pretty good deal at $159. It’s not the phone that was cheap — it’s the service which Virgin offers. $25 for unlimited data and text (which is what kids use these days) and 300 voice minutes…and this is all no contract, prepaid service! (BTW – Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint and uses their airwaves and is also responsible for the lions share of Sprint’s new subscriber additions).
I spent the better part of 3 hours activating (or trying to activate) the phone. Virgin Mobile has one of those annoying automated response systems — “Hello I’m Timmy your automated recorded customer service representative – your problem is very important to me – please say ‘help’ if your calling to ask a question”.
When I was finally able to live connect to a representative (clearly paid based on how fast they completed the call) they were not able to get the phone activated or tell me what the problem was.
Then I took another approach and called the 800 recorded number and worked my way to a live operator and instead of re-living history (failed activation) I immediately asked to speak with a supervisor because I was a new customer with a problem activating a phone. They responded… If I didn’t have a phone number yet (activated) they couldn’t forward me to a supervisor…..
Long story short — the lightbulb goes off in my head about 7pm – why not see if they have a Facebook “fan” page….
1 fan posting later (on their wall) and a blog post (knew that 2 years of blogging experience would come in handy) I had an email from the Virgin Mobile Social Media Teams.
10 minutes later the phone was activated.
My question in all of this — why do companies let a problem get to the point of where it’s a public complaint before providing any customer service options via a “social media team”?
Wouldn’t it be better to empower your employees/customer service representatives to deal with the issue straight out and resolve the problem the first time – no matter how long it takes?
And some companies wonder why they’re in a world of hurt….