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Arment Dietrich

Doing Everything We Can: How the Phone Company Spins Their Messaging

By: Arment Dietrich | July 21, 2007 | 
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Something has gone terribly wrong.  And no one is to blame.  Everyone is doing everything they can.  But their hands are tied.  Welcome to my world.

These are among the platitudes, excuses, customer-service-speak apologies, and ramblings that have filled our emails and ears this past week, as our office phone lines have not worked since July 14.  Some would call this entire telephonic finger pointing “spin” – and that is the most polite of words.

Here’s the short story.  Arment Dietrich, Inc. moved.  Mind you, we didn’t move very far.  In fact, our new offices are so close to the former ones that we’re in the same zip code and will keep the same fax and phone numbers – which will be great for us if they ever work again.

Ours was not a difficult service request.  We requested our IT company manage the relocation more than two months before the move.  After much back and forth with our telecom company, the process was put in motion.  A smart jack had to be installed.  Easy enough except AT&T put it in the wrong building.  It took from July 16 – 20 for AT&T and GlobalCom to agree that it needed to be reinstalled.  Two “expedited” installation requests later, service may be working again on July 25.  We’re not sure because the people to whom our requests could be escalated left before 3:00 on Friday. 

Ironically, just like the phone companies, talking is our business.  Sure, we communicate with emails, text messages, and can accomplish a lot through good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations – but a lot of what we do as a public relations agency requires 24/7 phone access. 

Not since the tragedy of 9/11 have I been more convinced of the value of a reliable cell phone than this past week.  Along with my colleagues we have gone about our business of calling reporters and clients using personal cell phones in new and creative ways.  No one knows how many calls to our “hard line” have gone unanswered, how much business we have lost, or opportunities vanished due to the “fast busy.”

We have collectively moved from infuriated to that same feeling of hopelessness you feel when the door slams closed as you bolt down the jet way.  Our disappointment levels with our trusted telecom business partners have sunk below zero on the satisfaction scale.

Every day there is a new excuse.  And companies wonder why infuriated consumers and small business owners turn to television and newspaper “help lines” just to get a fair hearing?  We are avoiding that temptation but it is among our arsenals of desperation.

Is wireless the wave of the future?  No doubt. — Shawn Kahle

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John Pointon
John Pointon

Office fax is still hard line, but the office phone is strictly for non critical communications. All other communications done on cell phones. Not cheaper but reliable. Not that the phones go down that often, but when they do it`s a week to get up and running again. I have our website, email and cell numbers on all of the mailings, invoices etc.

Internet service went down a couple of weeks ago. Called for service, was told to log onto a website to check our system. Hung up, called again and got an adult. All fixed in less than 3 days.

Michael Rubin, Arment Dietrich
Michael Rubin, Arment Dietrich

The ironic part is that I highly doubt anyone from AT&T or GlobalCom will ever read this blog post. The blog offers a golden opportunity for any service provider to know exactly what their client is feeling far better than any survey administered months after the fact. And yet, there is nothing.

I hear all the time that it is "difficult" for any one company to monitor the blogosophere and that it requires an undue amount of personnel and time. Fact is that it's astonishingly simple for companies to monitor the blogosophere:

1. Find an intern or junior staffer with not much to do.

2. Put them in front of a computer. Use Google News, Google Blogsearch, and Technorati and search for your name, your clients, and your industry.

3. Ask for daily reports.

Simple.

So let's try this as an experiment. Hey, AT&T and GobalCom! Our phones aren't working. Are you listening? I'd say call us, but you can't.