Skip the Phone Tree; Use Executive Customer Service for Results

by Kevin on January 31, 2011

Remember last week when I told you to ask for discounts when you move? I was so confident that utilizing that strategy works because I had just used it to secure some major discounts myself.

There are two instances where we used our move to get a discount: our home internet, and our cable. We used AT&T DSL at home and paid a premium price for it. I was so frustrated when we first bought our house at one of the local cable companies. Incompetence reigned there. When I called AT&T the gentleman on the phone sold me a package — one I was happy to pay more for — simply because he took care of my need and came up with a solution. (Says a lot about psychology and buying, right?)

We got our 12 month deal, but after it expired it jumped to $47.95 per month. I should have called back to negotiate a discount, but I didn’t. We happily paid a higher price simply because the representative on the phone took care of me when I called. I didn’t get the run around, and I was happy.

That is until we moved…

I Want to Be Your Customer

It went well at the beginning. I called and informed them we were canceling our service at our house, and wanted new service at the place we were renting in our new city. I was pushed to a couple of different departments (one to cancel, then one to order) and was delighted to learn we would be getting an awesome $19.99 per month deal for the first 12 months. We could even keep our old modem, and once they transferred everything all we had to do was plug in the modem and we would be good to go.

Oh, if it were only so easy.

Our first bill showed up about a week ago for $35 per month service and a $13 charge that we would later discover was the charge for plugging our own internet in.


Very frustrated — I thought we had this taken care of — we called customer service back, bounced through the phone tree, and then my wife got a pretty rude representative who wouldn’t budget. He said our $19.99 service was really $35 per month service, but we would start receiving rebates on the cost in two or three months. Oh, and that this all should have been explained to us, so there was nothing he could do.

As if it were my fault I agreed to continue to be their customer going off of what was told to me on the phone rather than what should have been told to me on the phone. Awesome.

Use Executive Customer Service

After my wife wrapped up her conversation with the customer service rep, I immediately started Googling for AT&T’s Executive Customer Service.

More on that in a second, but first…

What’s Executive Customer Service?

These are the people that make things happen. They work in the “Office of the President” or “Office of the CEO”. They’re folks that have a long tenure with the company, and actually know how to fix issues rather than reading off of a script like a robot. They also understand the cost of bad PR and of losing a customer in the process.

If you ever have an issue with a company try the normal phone tree route once. If you don’t get effective resolution start searching for “[company name] Executive Customer Service”. It is usually pretty easy to find.

…back to our story. As I was searching I soon became even more frustrated because there are multiple executive customer numbers! The most dominant one was for AT&T Mobility (cell phones) and while I knew they could eventually get me in the right place I didn’t want to deal with the hassle.

I ended up finding resolution through social media and I’ll share that with you in a few days. (Stay tuned.)

I wanted to provide a specific example where calling Executive Customer Service worked without having to use other methods. That example for me is DirecTV.

When we moved we canceled our DirecTV package. We had been customers for over three years just like with AT&T’s DSL service. When we moved I was informed — for the first time except probably for some very fine print — that there would be a $200 charge to get out of our contract thanks to upgrading to HD DVR when our normal DVR continued to fail on us.

As you can imagine I was not amused. Regular customer service was the same result as with AT&T — “I’m sorry sir, you should have been informed.”

Hung up, Tweeted about it, and within 24 hours not only had someone from the Office of the President talking to me, but my bill taken care of and boxes to send my equipment shipped to me.

Social media is changing the game when it comes to customer service and satisfaction. Stay tuned because later this week I’ll walk you through the steps to take to get satisfaction!


Marguerite January 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

so you also used social media to get resolution in the DirecTV example? How do you get to Executive Customer Service if you’re not a Twitter-er?

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Kevin January 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

Google: “[company name] Executive Customer Service” has a lot of them if you search their site as well. Google usually pulls up Consumerist results.

You don’t necessarily have to have a Twitter account to find the contact information for the higher level customer support team. Search for the company’s Twitter name and go from there.

Golfing Girl February 2, 2011 at 9:49 am

Sounds good in theory, but for a fact I know that my previous employer (large regional bank) has no such department. But that may be because our call centers are still here in the USA and we have excellent customer service ratings? I’m guessing not every big company has something like this.
As for Direct TV, we had a falling out with them and when I told them I wanted to cancel my service, they said, “fine.” I was shocked to not be transferred to the “retention” department. Since then, they’ve faithfully sent us junk mail to get us to sign up for their service, as if we had never been customers–and we were with them for 6 years and had premium services (NFL Sunday Ticket, TiVo, etc.). I’m glad they didn’t try to keep us, since we now pay $11/mo for basic cable and are saving almost $100/month.

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