AT&T’s Clueless Approach to Mobile Marketing

by Chris Kenton on July 22, 2011

This is the unedited transcript of an SMS exchange I had with AT&T after upgrading my iPhone. Note the time and date of this exchange.

Jul 2, 2011 7:51 PM
Christopher, thanks for upgrading your phone with James at our AT&T store. We’ll text you shortly for some feedback. (SURVEY TEXTS FREE)

July 2, 2011 9:15 PM
Q1 of 2: How satisfied were you with the service provided by James our retail Rep – on a scale from 10 (completely) to 1 (not at all)?

I’m on vacation. Not really interested in your customer service messages on Saturday night on holiday weekend. Really.
July 2, 2011 9:30 PM
Thanks. Q2 of 2: How likely would you be to recommend AT&T to a friend – on a scale from 10 (definitely) to 1 (definitely not)?
Thanks for asking! Nice way to bury your net promoter score question in what’s supposed to sound like a friendly chat. You must be my friend. I’ll say 10. Definitely.
July 2, 2011 9:45 PM
Thank you. Could tell us why you gave that rating, or how we could improve your AT&T experience?
But that’s self evident. You’re auto-texting me at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night. You’re obviously a brilliant company that cares deeply about our relationship. Please send me some more information. Lots.
July 2, 2011 10:01 PM
Thanks. One final question: How long did you wait for a Sales Rep to assist you?
a. Less than 5 mins
b. 5-10 mins
c. 10-15 mins
d. 15-20 mins
e. 20 plus mi
D. Is that good? I enjoyed waiting.
Thanks again for your time and feedback. Your comments will help us continually improve our stores and service. AT&T

AT&T is a billion dollar company. They are the company that is still the primary service provider for the Apple brand, which prides itself above almost all other brands on the consumer experience. They have a multi-million dollar marketing budget, with resources to hire the best marketers in the industry. And yet, this is the crap they produce. How many ways could they find to screw this up? Let’s count.

1. They launch this campaign, several days after my purchase, late on a Saturday night during the 4th of July holiday weekend. Seriously? What consultant told you it’s a good idea to bug customers late on a weekend night with a survey, through a communications channel I restrict to friends and family?

2. They serve this up without asking me if I’d even like to participate–they just notify me that they’ll be texting me the survey, and barge right ahead.

3. They can’t count. They set my expectation at the outset for 2 questions–“Q1 of 2”–and then proceed to ask 4.

4. They obviously have a crappy automation script that can parse my answers to survey questions, but can’t parse my “Not interested” reply, and steamroll forward assuming that of course I answered their first question enthusiastically.

5. Net promoter score by automated dumb SMS? Really? They obviously care so much about the quality of the results.

6. They never provide any contextual feedback in their automated scripts that even gives me the illusion that they’ve heard anything I’ve said. Like, I don’t know, “I’m sorry you waited 20 minutes. Thanks for being patient.”

I find it truly astounding, and not a little bit depressing, that AT&T is really this clueless about marketing in the 21st century. Yes, I know it’s not surprising–it is AT&T after all–but seriously. Who on God’s green earth devises a program like this, and who signs off on it? I’m sure it’s someone who turns right around and speaks on an industry panel about mobile marketing and customer satisfaction. There custom research paper writing service might be some more critical thinking prompts, but those won’t necessarily dominate the standardized assessment

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