Transforming the customer experience

Douglas Quenqua

Unhappy customers can threaten a company's brand, reputation, and bottom line. In 2007, Sprint faced the fact that it had a problem with dissatisfied customers. For years, evidence had been mounting that too many of its customers, even those who may have been pleased with their phone service or the price they paid for it, were walking away from company interactions — help-center calls, retail transactions, visits to its website — ultimately feeling frustrated and dissatisfied.

"Pretty much across any customer experience survey, whether it be a third-party survey or measurement or a publication that measures customer experience, Sprint was dead last, and by a fairly decent margin," says Tim Gay, director of customer experience at Sprint. "It wasn't hard to see where we stood."

Gay isn't exaggerating. Out of 112 companies ranked that year by the Forrester Customer Experience Index (CXi), Sprint was in the bottom 10 and had the lowest scores in all three areas measured by the survey (usefulness, usability, and enjoy-ability). The survey's author called for a "radical overhaul of customer experience efforts" at Sprint. Forrester wasn't the only one being critical: In the 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index, Sprint came in last — by a huge margin — among all wireless companies.