I had AT&T for close to 10 years. I remember when they were Cellular One in my area, and then Cingular, and then “The new AT&T”. I had always been reasonably happy with them and the service they provided…but in the interest of saving money (and since my fiancee made it very clear that nothing would tear her from Verizon), today I sacrificed my AT&T account and bought a Droid on Verizon. I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner!
The customer service experience was almost surreal. I walked in and someone greeted me immediately. He asked why I was in the store, I explained I was just checking out the phones and was potentially moving my account. Then I wandered over to the Android phones selection. Within a few minutes, someone came over and asked if I needed any assistance. I started asking a few questions, mostly on whether there were any internet-connected Droids in the store. The Verizon employee (who I later found out was a corporate trainer!) found me a working phone and asked me what phone I was currently using. I pulled out my Famous Original iPhone, and we started talking about features and differences, etc.
When I decided to buy it, she set me up with the specialist in charge of porting my account, and while he did that she unpacked my phone, inserted the battery, and made sure it was ready to go. Once my number was ported over and the phone activated, it was ready for me to sign in with my Google account. The employees insisted on helping me set up my Google accounts and my voicemail, and they had an equipment specialist walk me through the basics of the phone. Only after they were satisfied I was all set and happy with my new toy did they let me leave the store.
A few things really struck me about this experience:
1) I felt like a valued customer from the second I set foot in the door. The only other place I feel that way is at an Apple store, and it’s for the same reason; I like being greeted and asked what I need. It saves me the time to track down an employee and it shows me the store recognizes I didn’t come in because I like their wallpaper.
2) Every employee I spoke to started out talking about the Droid in very basic terms; as soon as I made it clear I knew smartphones and technology fairly well, their sales pitches became more technical and in-depth. Essentially, no one talked down to me, and everyone clearly knew their stuff.
3) No one let me leave the store until they were sure I was happy with my experience. Again, this is one of those things you encounter at an Apple Store, or at a high end department store. They tried to sell me on the usual complement of accessories, but more than that they made sure I didn’t have any questions about my phone, that I was comfortable using it and pleased with my purchase. Those little “value added” things really add up for me, as it shows they care about my long term happiness as a customer of theirs; it wasn’t “Come in, sign up, hit the road”, it was “Come in, learn more, we’re happy when you’re happy”.
It’s a bit scary having walked away AT&T, and I am sure I will miss my iPhone. But I can tell you the one thing I won’t miss about AT&T is the service; compared to Verizon, AT&T looks like a New York City hot dog vendor.