This letter explains some of the reasons I hate calling DirecTV and why I think they should improve their customer service. It is a letter I am mailing to DirecTV, but putting it here is kind of fun.
January 3, 2014
I just took a survey about my recent call to DirecTV and it got me thinking. I had hated the experience of making that phone call and I had felt a little guilty for my attitude on the phone. After taking the survey, I realized just why I hated it making that phone call so much.
We are in the first year of our contract and our costs are climbing as our discounts expire. I needed to do something about that. We hardly ever watch the content on Starz or Encore, so cutting that off was an obvious choice. I also knew we were paying about seven dollars a month for a protection plan that we would probably never use.
So I decide to take care of this. Knowing that calling DirecTV can be a painful experience, I go on the website first, just in case I can take care of the issue there. I know that is extremely unlikely, but the possibility that I might not have to call in to the company makes it worth the trouble. As I expect, I have to call and speak with someone who will try to convince me to change my mind before I can change our services.
I call the company, already dreading what was coming. Of course, the first thing I get is a computerized telephone service that tries its hardest to convince me it can take care of my problem without a human being becoming involved. I know this isn’t true, so in frustration I practically yell into the phone that I need a customer service representative. I am somewhat relieved that it actually recognizes my request and says it will comply.
I speak with a nice lady on the phone. She can’t help me. She says she will transfer me to a specialist, who I know is going to be someone trained to talk me out of my decision. A second nice lady comes on the phone. She does her job politely, but I am highly frustrated and annoyed and wish I didn’t have to go through this whole process, one which could easily be done online if the company didn’t want to make it hard to drop services like these.
As I’m talking to her, she tells me the price I will be paying without the services I’ve dropped. It’s a lot higher than I expected. I ask her about the discounts I am receiving. She begins to tell me, then pauses, starts talking and pauses again. Something is odd to her. I don’t know what it is. I ask her how long we have before our contract is up. She tells me it is a two-year contract and the first year will be up in February. The things she says make it sound like we should be getting more discounts than she is seeing on her computer screen. Finally, she gives me a total. It still sounds like a lot to me, but I know there is nothing I can do except pay it and then pay more for another 12 months.
When I am done, I am sorry for my grumpiness. I know that these women are just trying to do their jobs and don’t have any control over the things that bug me. I also vow to myself to end our contract at the first opportunity.
A day or two later I get an email. I think it’s going to be a chance to do a customer feedback survey and I’m interested. I quickly click on the e-mail. What I see is a reminder that you can take care of many things online, without calling customer service. This does not make me happy.
I don’t see a place to take a survey, but I don’t look at every inch of the e-mail. I’m too ticked off by the fact that I’ve received such a reminder in the first place. I delete it.
Today I received a second e-mail from DirecTV, reminding me to take the survey about the phone call I’d made to their customer service department. I hadn’t realized I’d missed that chance, so I click on the survey right away to express my disappointment.
As I take the survey, I not only realize why I was so upset, but also why I think DirecTV is a poor company. They ask me if I would recommend the service to someone else. The answer is no. They ask why. I say it’s because their product is virtually identical to the product others offer, their price is very similar (or higher) and their customer service is poor.
After I finish, it hits me what poor leadership this company has. They have a product I can get from two other companies. They can’t compete much on price, since the three companies have pretty much the same costs (most of which are for programming). They are all locked into a similar business model (grouping channels into packages). So, the only thing that really distinguishes them is customer service and DirecTV’s service is terrible. The only thing keeping them in business is that the other companies don’t exactly excel at it either.
It seems to me that the only smart way to run a cable or satellite company is to provide gold-star service. It’s the only thing that could set you apart. Providing poor service is a great way to lose business to a competitor who can deliver the same product for the same price and at the same time make you happy to do business with them. The fact that DirecTV doesn’t seem to understand this makes me think they must live in a bubble where they are protected from the realities of the world they compete in.
Of course, if it were up to me we wouldn’t even have TV. I watch programs almost exclusively online.
A current customer