When New Media Integrated Marketing Communications Aren’t Integrated – Can You Hear Me Now? Part Deux

Friday, September 5, or, as I referred to it, “new phone service installation day,” finally arrived and I was working from home. Still proud of myself for completing my new phone service transaction with no human interaction and no extraneous marketing messages beyond a word-of-mouth referral and website phone package selection and ordering, I anxiously waiting for the Verizon technician. Should arrive anytime between 8 and 5, the website told me.

I thought I’d try and scope out some Verizon blogs to see if anyone may have posted anything about technician promptness. I thought this would be particularly insightful, because people who are savvy enough to order service online would probably also blog about their ordering experiences, both good and bad, via online platforms like blogs. I was relieved to find relatively few blogs devoted specifically to problems with Verizon landline service, which was a relief. However, as this blog reports, people have been upset by customer “dis-service” as the blogger posted, tied to wireless service.

Hmm…I thought. This type of feedback made me want to investigate service further. I also decided that I should give the local number on Verizon’s website a call to see if they had any better estimation as to when a technician would be at the house, beyond the general 8-5 window. This is where things began to unravel, and limited human contact, for marketing messages and the integrated marketing element known as customer service, wasn’t such an asset but started to become a liability for the company. I first encountered an automated welcome message that started in the traditional way…(give a listen if you’ve been living on Mars for the past few years)

While I am amazed at how voice recognition technology allows the system to process my requests without me pressing a button, I did become frustrated when the options offered weren’t exactly what I was looking for since I just needed an order status. I finally got routed to a service rep line, but was put on hold for sevarl minutes. When I did get connected to a live person, I was told that I had been connected to the wrong department and was transferred at least two more times. The last person I spoke with indicated that there were issues with my online order and she couldn’t reach the office that handled these. She offered to call me back, so I wouldn’t have to wait. Uh oh.

I finally received a call back and was informed that a service call was scheduled for a few weeks from now, which was baffling. My assumption is that my online order got lost in the shuffle, as I’d not received my e-mail confirmation, which may have been caught by a spam filter and deleted, and a human had then created a new installation request. I was becoming increasingly frustrated because the wonders of new media were quickly becoming out of sync and definitely not integrated with the customer service and other marketing options from Verizon.

I was then connected to yet another service representative and was told that, after all of the frustrations I’d experienced with being bounced around among service reps and my online order being in an online black hole someplace, that a technician didn’t need to come to the house after all. She mentioned that service should automatically be connected. This made me think back to marketing messages received after completing my order, and I recalled that it was never clearly stated that a technician would not need to visit.

I then inquired into adding a long distance package, as several deals were available through the website. Rather than assisting with the upsell opportunity that I initiated, the rep actually let me know that she didn’t know how they’d tie an upgrade into the order I’d already placed. She didn’t have to try and market anything to me, the website did all of the work of providing package features and benefits, but, ultimately, the sale was lost because I was frustrated that it, too, would be screwed up in the process and I’d end up with fourteen different bills or something.

As of this post, I’m still waiting for my phone to be connected, as I was told that it could be within the next few days, and am still uncomfortable that it actually will. From a marketing perspective, there were definitely disconnects in what should have been an integrated process. All online efforts should be in sync with any live assistance that is needed, especially when someone is trying to place an order.

After being so pleased with the initial ease of online ordering (I even provided glowing feedback when I received an online survey after my service transaction request had been completed), I became dismayed at the frustrations, and loss of an in-office day of work, for something that should have been relatively simple to complete. I guess the need for quality human interaction to verify orders such as these are placed correctly and service appointments confirmed properly will need to continue, at least in the near future.

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