On Tuesday, AT&T Inc. acknowledged that a limited number of customers lost one or more services for a few hours on Monday. Let's take AT&T at its word and say it was just a couple of clusters of a few thousand customers out of the millions it serves. Why make such a big deal of it?
We think it's an example of what can happen when the customer experience isn't managed well. A quick poll of my U-verse subscribing neighbors, friends and Twitter followers first alerted me that a few folks in different states were seeing outages of Internet access, pay TV and voice services. But AT&T, via its social media accounts, said nothing for several hours.
Why bother everyone with news about a limited outage? I think any company that trots its executives out on a Las Vegas stage to brag unceasingly about its media reviews, developer prowess and 4G network improvements has set a public expectation that it will be more open.
So we find it surprising that, instead of giving specifics, AT&T would rather let its (disappointed) customers vent on social networks when it could have told a solid story using its own network data. That seems like the sort of thing most companies would be wise enough to address with enough clarity that it doesn't balloon into a bigger story.
Why else should a company as big as AT&T try to set an example in customer experience management? I'll answer that question by posing three more: How should customers reconcile an unexplained, multistate, multiservice outage with the idea of AT&T Digital Life? Would it give anyone pause to turn over more control of their homes -- via home automation and home security services -- to a company that doesn't talk openly about what's going on in its network?
At a time when service providers are trying to get a bigger share of consumer spending, is it too much for consumers to expect better communication and a little accountability when things don't go so well?
— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
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