Case Study: Using IM to Build Customer Relationships

The following log is a transcript of a live IM chat between a Skyline Mobile customer service representative and a customer inquiring about an unexpected added fee.

Your Task. Evaluate the exchange based on word choice, grammar, tone, and professionalism. How well does the customer service representative handle the customer’s inquiry? Is it resolved fairly, and is it likely to foster a good business relationship?

Individually or in small groups, discuss alternative strategies for this online chat if applicable. Consider the organization’s goals in providing live chat representatives; were those goals met? If your instructor directs, revise the dialogue.

Please hold for a Skyline Mobile sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience. You are now chatting with “May D.”

May D.: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today?

Customer: Yes, I’m about to finish my order, but suddenly there’s a $30 upgrade fee? What’s that? I’m surprised. I thought I’m getting an upgrade discount.

May D.: Skyline Mobile implemented a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract. This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect, which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever.

Customer: Okay, so that means the phone advertised at $99.99 is really going to cost me $30 more?

May D.: Are you an existing customer?

May D.: You may have the option the $30 to your account.

Customer: Yes, I am. I have been for many years and each month I’m paying $130 for my service. I’m a bit taken aback by this last-minute charge. I have just chatted with another representative and that wasn’t brought up.

Customer: It’s not the additional charge, it’s how “sneakily” it pops up at the end just as the customer is about to click “BUY.”

May D.: Yes, I understand, it was just implemented last week on the 22nd.

Customer: Just my luck. Okay, I don’t really need an upgrade. My Droid 2 is doing its work nicely and I have unlimited data. So I won’t go through with it. You are losing my $175 business today.

May D.: I understand how you feel and appreciate your loyalty. In addition to receiving discounts on device prices when upgrading, we do from time to time send our loyal customers specials, offers and updates on new equipment, products, and price plans.

Customer: I know. I did get one such ad for Mother’s day, the Droid Razr for $99.99. Okay, I’ll wait until the price drops. No problem. Thank you.

May D.: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Customer: No, thanks. Your customer service is getting worse.

Customer: Not you personally, but the “perks.” Your company is adding hidden fees. Not cool. — Have a good day.


Dear Reader,

For the instructor’s discussion points, e-mail Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey at 

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