For two months I’ve been in a cold war with Spectrum, my internet and phone provider, due to a variety of technical issues related to moving to my new home (see here, here, here, here, and here). I was going to just let things rest with incomplete service for a while until I got frustrated enough to fix the problem or, in the case of yesterday morning, I got to the point where I couldn’t pay a bill. I pride myself on being a prompt payer of my debts, so this would not stand. I broke down and called Spectrum once more to address my ongoing technical issues, which were now preventing me from paying my bill. Much to my surprise, a Spectrum customer service rep finally got the issue resolved my issues after over two months of back and forth!
The Situation Thus Far
During one of my many previous calls, I had problems accessing some of the channels on my Roku TV, which required me to input a code from the channel on my phone or laptop using my Spectrum password. The Spectrum rep I spoke with about the issue asked for my IP address. When I gave it to him, he told me that that was the address for a Virtual Private Network (VPN). He suggested I talk to my contract employer because their laptop was the only tool in the condo using a VPN. Apparently said laptop was hijacking my Spectrum wifi box, giving it the wrong IP address, and making channel access problematic. The IT department at the employer dismissed the issue; their only concern was whether I had problems accessing their network, which I did not.
Back to Spectrum and my problem Sunday morning.
I could not access the Spectrum site to pay my monthly bill. I was entering my password correctly…so far as I knew…and I was told by the website that the information I input did not match their records. Back to the phone I went, with great reluctance, given my mostly unsuccessful efforts to date.
After running through the gauntlet of artificial-stupid questions in the automated phone queue, I was put in touch with an actual human, Shannon. I summarized my problems with accessing my various accounts but decided to focus first on paying my bill. I could access my condo account, but not my old apartment account when I tried to enter input it manually. While speaking with Shannon, I saw that my browser had saved a password for the apartment account that was longer than the one I had on hand. On a whim, I tried using that password, and huzzah! It worked. Okay, so the problem with the passwords wasn’t (necessarily) my IP address being hijacked. I could update those later.
Back to the cable TV issue, which was still preventing me from accessing basic channels like the Big Four networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox), which I view primarily to watch football. They should have been included in my basic Spectrum app via Roku. Shannon asked if I moved the Roku back and forth between the old address and the new one. I said no, just the one time. Shannon explained that she had Roku in her home, and the problem was that the app didn’t recognize where it was. She asked me to remove the Spectrum app from the Roku home screen and reinstall it. I did so and, much to my surprise, upon reopening my Spectrum app, I was able to view basic TV channels again! Huzzah! Shannon gets a gold star for finally resolving a two-month-long problem!
I did have to ask about the IP address, however. A previous Spectrum rep had told me that the IP address I gave him was for a VPN. Was that still an issue? No. Shannon explained that it was an IP v (version) 6 address, which is more complicated than the IP v4 addresses I was used to seeing. IPv6 addresses were created because the ###.##.#.###-format addresses were running out due to the increasing number of digital devices in the world. So the previous Spectrum rep had incorrectly interpreted my IPv6 number to be a VPN address instead of an IPv4. My contract employer is off the hook for supposedly “hijacking” my IP address, and football viewing can resume its normal process at Casa de Bart. Finally.
Heroic Customer Service
I made certain to thank the rep for fixing a long-standing problem. I also asked for her name so I could include it in this blog, and thank her for having enough knowledge to correctly address my situation and fix it with a minimum of fuss and in a minimum amount of time. Unlike some of the hour-long phone calls I’d had with previous Spectrum reps that left the problem unresolved, Shannon managed to cover the password issue and the IP address issue in an 18-minute phone call. Bravo, and good for you. You probably saved your company from losing a customer (unlike, say, Office Depot).
I can’t help wondering about the previous reps. Did it take me going through multiple diagnostics (and ways of explaining the problem) with different four or five previous reps before I got my TV channels operating correctly? Is this what is meant by “practicing engineering” (as opposed to practicing medicine), where you keep trying things until you find something that works?
What on Earth Does This Have to Do With Technical Writing?
As you can see through the multiple links, I’ve written a LOT about customer service in the last couple of months, often in fits of pique. Customer service matters. But it’s not just a matter of treating your customers politely. You need to make certain you or your representatives have the proper knowledge to answer their questions. Even more importantly, you need to make certain you or your representatives are fixing the right problem! Shannon diagnosed correctly what a previous agent did not, which was the way Roku interacted with Spectrum, and she was sympathetic with my frustration. That was the result of her personal experience with the technology (she had three Roku units in her own home) and her ability to relate to the customer experiencing with the technology. And she did all this while remaining pleasant and patient through numerous ignorant questions.
The result is that her better insight and personal interaction skills saved the customer relationship in a way four to six other people had not. And, mind you, I didn’t ask for (nor receive) any service recovery in the form of money, coupons, or other incentives. However, I went away from the interaction satisfied because the customer service rep listened to me, demonstrated concern for and understanding of my problem, and took the time to fix it to my satisfaction. That, my friends, is why good customer service matters!
Spectrum, if you’re reading this, give Shannon a raise. Or have her train your other reps. She knows what she is doing.