How Good Marketing Can Create Bad Customer Service
Adam Toporek Keynote Speaker of Customers That Stick®

How Good Marketing Can Create Bad Customer Service


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Jayme SoulatiJayme Soulati

Our guest post author for this installment of the Customer Service Stories series is Jayme Soulati, President of Soulati Media, Inc. Soulati Media delivers business-to-business social media marketing with public relations. For more Jayme, check out her hard-hitting blog at

Also, please keep an eye out for our great video interview with Jayme in the near future.


GUEST POST DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions and positions expressed by guest post authors on this site are those of the author alone and do not represent those of IntenseFence Management Solutions or any employee thereof. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this post have not been verified and are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. 

The beauty of social media is the opportunity for large corporations to learn from their front-line and marketing mistakes. This story is true, just happened, and provides me the chance to put it in the blogosphere for others’ awareness.

U-Verse is a product AT&T has been touting for more than a year in my neighborhood. Both my neighbors on either side of me have it, so I wanted it, too, for faster internet connection. I was an existing customer with AT&T wanting to buy other services from AT&T. It doesn’t get any better when an existing customer wants to upsell herself services. Here’s what happened instead:

  • I attempted to find a phone number on the AT&T website. After two minutes of searching and expletives, I did.
  • The website touted U-Verse everywhere, and I was anticipating more work efficiency because my Wi-Fi connection was malfunctioning. Sadly, the representative I reached said the higher-speed U-verse was not available in my market; I asked for clarification and to speak with a manager.
  • She took my name and number for her manager to phone me back; alas, no manager has ever attempted to reach me (this was two+ weeks ago). The customer rep turned me over to the technician to help me with my slow Wi-Fi. He was wonderful and got me working again. When I received a customer satisfaction survey, I gave him high scores.
  • Afterwards, he transferred me back to another representative to see if he could sell me U-verse. That rep also told me it wasn’t available, and I should call back in three to five days.

That’s when I lost my patience and said:

  • You are marketing U-verse in my neighborhood with direct mail, phone calls and now that I’m ready to buy, you’re saying it’s not available? (He said that all the connectors/hook ups/plugs or whatever were taken, and there was no more capacity.)
  • Then I asked what the difference between today and three days in the future was? Would that mean I could get the product I want in three days but not today? (He couldn’t answer because that was off script.)
  • Then he asked me to call back in three days. I said, “Wait a minute. I’m a customer; I want to buy something from you and you’re asking me to call back? Do you realize how inconvenient it is to phone AT&T and sit on hold waiting for customer service? Why can’t you schedule a call yourself to reach me at 10 a.m. Tuesday?”  (He said he would do that; that was two+ weeks ago and I’ve never had a return phone call.)

So, let’s review AT&T and its customer-facing experience:

  1. I could not locate a phone number on the AT&T website to make a purchase.
  2. I attempted to use live-chat, but after waiting more than four minutes, I shut that down.
  3. AT&T’s best new service is being marketed like crazy, and it’s not available in my neighborhood in spite of both my neighbors having it.
  4. The manager I asked to phone me never did.
  5. The customer service rep couldn’t answer my questions about what difference three days makes in getting service (because it was off script).
  6. That same customer service rep never called me back to sell me a product. I was a hot customer; in fact, I was ready to buy a major bundle of services but the frontline customer service team let that hot sale slip through their fingers.

How Good Marketing Can Create Bad Customer Service | Lady Looking At PhoneSo many aspects of this customer experience failed on so many levels that I’m extremely disgusted. Like a bank, telephone services are challenging to change. Instead of experiencing the hassle to switch, customers complain and stay the course.

What’s changed?

Social media now allows more stories like this to see the light of day. Perhaps AT&T will see this story; perhaps not. But through the Internet and social media, this story’s reach will be exponentially greater than at any time before.

Companies need to market services they can provide. They need to train customer service representatives to respond when consumers ask a smart question. They need to train managers and reps to return phone calls to customers when they’re asking for a phone call. Lastly, companies just need to care.

About the Author Adam Toporek

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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