Friday, April 24, 2009

DirectTV - One Customer's Experience

I recently had an experience with DirectTV that I want to share with all of you. And I hope that DirectTV representatives read this.

It started when I noticed a message on my TV screen that certain channels in the MLB (Major League Baseball) package that I had bought were not available to me because my DirectTV receiver was out of date. I’ve had my receiver since I converted to DirectTV in 2001 and didn’t see a need to upgrade.

I liked the idea of HDTV, but did I need it?

I liked the idea of DVR, but did I need it?

Yet here I was, faced with the prospect of upgrading my receiver, something I was sure would be costly, just to get the full benefit from the package I had purchased.

I was not happy.

Reluctantly I looked at the DirectTV website ( and began checking out the receivers. It looked like they were running some specials on the receivers, so it might not be as costly as it seemed. But I had one special requirement that I didn’t see listed in the specs. I needed the receiver to be RF capable.

What does that mean?

I want to be able to sit in any room in my house and use the remote control to change the channels. I do not want or need multiple receivers in my house. And I did not see RF capabilities mentioned in the receiver specs.

I finally broke down and made that dreaded call to Customer Service. I know that you understand why I said “dreaded”. Calling Customer Service means getting placed on hold for a long time before finally speaking with a person in another country who barely speaks English and who struggles to communicate at even the most basic level.

Imagine my surprise when my customer service rep not only spoke English, but because of their accent, I could tell them were from someplace slightly south of the Mason Dixon line. I explained my problem and my concern and waited for the bad news.

“Mr. Meyer” the rep began, I can see you’ve been a loyal customer since 2001. And as a loyal customer we will upgrade your receiver for free.”

Loyal customer, I thought? What kind of company really rewards loyal customers any more. Most customer loyalty programs are thinly veiled attempts to make you feel good while the company treats you poorly.

My rep went on to explain that their high end receiver would do the job for me and that it was not only RF capable but would allow me to split the line and run multiple TV’s from the same box.

It got better.

Not only would I get the receiver for free, I was also getting the installation for free, including a new dish.

That’s a tough deal to turn down, so I agreed and scheduled my installation. But instead of getting the usual “Your installer will be there someplace between 8:00 and 5:00 on a certain day” I was given a choice of timeframes: 8:00 – 12:00 or 12:00 – 4:00.

Now I know that asking for an afternoon installation is risky. If an appointment goes bad in the morning, the afternoon appointments often suffer. But the morning just wasn’t good for me, so I chose an afternoon installation.

I won’t give you every detail, but I will say that my installer was very punctual, very friendly, and went out of his way to ensure that I was satisfied. At one point we ran into a snag and he had to call in for help. He used the speaker function on his phone to keep his hands free, so I could hear both sides of the conversation. He had to go through several levels of support to resolve the issue, but was never on hold for more than a minute, and each person he spoke to was friendly and helpful. And every one of them spoke English as a native language, allowing for a much easier, free flowing conversation.

Here’s the short end of the story. I got excellent customer service from DirectTV and they worked hard to make sure I was satisfied. Every person that I spoke to at DirectTV was an American meaning that every conversation was shorter, more informative and less stressful than many other customer service phone calls. It’s not that I don’t think that people from other countries are smart, but even the smartest of people have problems with technical issues and providing support when they need to translate from English to their own language, and then back again.

So here’s a toast to DirectTV. Because I’m now one very happy customer.

And I hope other companies will take the time to learn about what customer service and customer satisfaction mean. It doesn’t matter if foreign labor is cheaper than American labor if it ends up taking longer to resolve a customer issue, and leaves the customer feeling frustrated.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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