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How to Lose IBM Customers: Preposterous Verizon Customer Experience

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Oct 21, 2012 7:04:00 PM

This is a 2 minute read.

customer experience red tape

How to Lose a (Lot of) Customer(s) in 3 Easy Steps, or Verizon Snubs IBM

We recently heard from a retired IBM executive about a recent experience he had attempting to get a discount from Verizon Wireless in regards to their “Retired IBM Employees” program.

It was sad, funny, preposterous and fairly hopeless all at once and serves as a reminder of all that goes wrong where best-laid-plans get put into practice.

Our Hero, having heard that Verizon offered a 10% discount as mentioned above, entered a Verizon store, confirmed that this discount was available as described, and attempted to secure that discount for a phone and service. As the salesperson was writing up the invoice, our retiree was asked to produce his IBM ID card, which he did, whereupon he was told that Verizon could not accept this card, because it wasn’t a Photo ID.

After patiently explaining that none of the 220,000 retired IBM Employees had Photo ID cards, our would-be customer was told that he should get IBM to issue them or Verizon could not offer the discount. At this point, the salesperson was asked to call a manager, who then confirmed the requirement – No Discount without Photo ID. When asked what he thought the likelihood was that IBM would issue such cards just to satisfy Verizon, the manager declined to say, suggesting that it did not matter, and that there was no one else to talk to about it…

I wonder what Verizon Executives actually think of this.

Does it matter? Do they know that their program has been hijacked by Redtape? Would they agree with their store sales manager’s decision? 220,000 potential customers denied, and sales lost… Hmmmm.

So what were the 3 Easy Steps to Lose a Lot of IBM Customers?

1) Implement a Policy that Cannot be Satisfied in Practice
2) Ignore the Customers and their Situation at the Store
3) Do not Communicate with the Troops Who Implement Policy

And I suppose there is a 4th: Provide no means of Escalation at the Store Level for Customer Satisfaction.

Gee, I guess that does it.


Thank you, Ted Whittemore! Nice job, Verizon!

Have you encountered a similar situation? Have you been on the receiving end of ridiculous Red Tape?

For those of you needing more perspective, consider United Breaks Guitars by musician Dave Carroll who shared the song and the full United Breaks Guitars story with us at BRITE, with hat tip to Bill Buyok who recently experienced a similarly lousy United situation.


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Image Credit: Red Tape Manufacturers Brace for Government Shutdown | Dear The Onion

Topics: customer experience, customer loyalty

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