The Verizon Wireless Droid Razr HDWhile we don’t list it with design, development, optimization, content, and media, customer service is an integral part of Influency. If your customers, clients, and prospects don’t trust you—or even worse, mistrust you—word will get around and you’ll never be mentioned when folks start talking about the good guys. Today, I have an Influency story about our old friends at Verizon Wireless, whose customer service is so bad, so often, we built and named The Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame in their, ahem, honor.

This week, one manager at a Verizon Wireless retail store in New Jersey performed a random act of superior customer service that deserves mention. Put the whole story together and you realize that there’s no need to worry about the status of the Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame—which sadly becomes the point of this story—but there’s a lot of Influency effect to talk about here.

I travel quite a bit. Because that’s so, I do business with a company that gives me temporary office space wherever I need to tuck in for a few hours. Among other things, they provide me with Wi-Fi access, and they manage who gets that access through registration of the devices their clients use so that there’s no log-on process and only authorized people can use their bandwidth. Earlier this week I stopped in at one of their locations, and found that my Galaxy Nexus smartphone wasn’t “on the list”. I did a little homework and found out that my phone’s MAC address had changed.

You probably don’t know what a MAC address is, or what the phrase ‘my MAC address had changed’ means. In fact, the first two technical support agents I spoke with at Verizon Wireless didn’t know what a MAC address is, nor did the Verizon Wireless retail manager about whom I otherwise have such great things to say, nor did the front-line technical support person at Samsung. Rather than get bogged down in details I’ll just say that every networkable device made has its own unique MAC address, and the current system, with 280 trillion addresses available, makes it unlikely we’ll run out any time soon.

Every networkable device is supposed to have its own MAC Address. But Samsung, it seems, doesn’t always play the MAC Address game the way it’s supposed to be played, and I found out this week that every time I rebooted my Galaxy Nexus its MAC address changed. And the technical support person I spoke with at Verizon Wireless Customer Service who actually understood the issue was as amazed as I was; MAC ADDRESSES AREN’T SUPPOSED TO CHANGE.

I pointed out to the Verizon Wireless telephone representative that because of my circumstances this wasn’t acceptable to me, and that despite my phone being 21 months old I needed it replaced. He had no problem with that. But he insisted, as every Verizon Wireless person I’ve ever encountered always does, that he couldn’t give me anything in exchange other than another Galaxy Nexus—which he also understood would likely have the same problem. I politely declined his offer.

I happened to have a few free minutes the next day and stopped into a Verizon Wireless store I was driving past. I explained the situation to the manager. And to my great shock and awe he arranged for me to receive a Droid Razr HD to replace my Galaxy Nexus. The Droid Razr HD is a one-year-newer model than the Galaxy Nexus. It has basically similar, but upgraded-due-its-relative-newness specs. And it’s not a Samsung device and its MAC address is permanent. Problem solved. GREAT customer service, my friend; you did Verizon Wireless proud.

Or did he?

My MAC address problem got solved. I have a newer, arguably better device. I prefer the less-burdened Nexus approach to phone development to Motorola’s added-software approach (hmm … Motorola is now owned by Google … maybe this will stop mattering soon), but software bloat in the Droid Razr HD really isn’t too bad. And I actually explained in painstaking detail to the manager who helped me out that I’m about 99% certain I’ll be leaving Verizon Wireless in less than three months after 19 consecutive years as a customer even if he helped me, and then he helped me anyway.

Here’s the problem. Say what you will about training and the right way to do customer service. Use whatever anecdotal evidence you like as support, like the manager of Verizon Wireless’ store Store #344203 at 1187 3rd Avenue in New York City who accused me of commiting fraud because I followed her directions. The undertone to this story is that this was the first person I’ve ever dealt with at Verizon Wireless Customer Service who understood the importance of doing customer service being more important than merely following a system. In fact, I actually said to him “if you don’t know how to do a replacement for a different device, and your manager doesn’t, and his doesn’t, eventually you’ll find someone who does”. And his response was to just take care of me, which likely means that other people at Verizon Wireless with whom I’ve used that point in the past could have too … but were too lazy.

Not the way to cull Influency.

By the way: despite my misgivings about devices that have been customized away from Google’s ‘standard’ Android installation, I have to compliment Motorola’s implementation of Android on the Droid Razr HD. It does a lot of things that used to require added apps, fixing for example, this problem with camera implementation. Kudos, Motorola.

I’ll probably still be leaving Verizon Wireless soon, but in the meantime, I feel a bit better about them than I have before. And again, it all comes down to customer service.

Want to talk about how you use customer service to bring abut Influency? I’m right here.

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