Once I finished with Mpower and started to ready myself for the day my mind still lingered concerning my conversation with Mpower and my feeling that I and my business mattered so little to them. The fact that their Customer Service has been poor is not a surprise to me and once again it is totally my fault for continuing to utilize their services. However, I resolved to understand how and why a company like Mpower would choose this tactic and totally disregard Customer Service despite that fact that they will do so at their own peril. This I can guarantee within the next 30-40 days I will cease to be an Mpower customer and my telephone, internet and other communications services will revert back to a mixture of SBC and Verizon.
But back to my pondering and trying to analyze why any company would let their Customer Service suffer and not make a sincere attempt to listen to and keep customers satisfied. On the drive into my office I put some thought into it and began to see a connection with bad Customer Service and companies feeling that their markets are disappearing and the fact that they are powerless to change the market forces that bring about such change.
The Vocational Rehabilitation community has begun to suffer greatly and that suffering has begun to reveal itself in bad Customer Service. As our industry deals with the passage of SB899 which eliminated mandatory Vocational Rehabilitation our industry has been hit by a powerful “market force” that will slowly but surely eliminate a vast majority of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors from our industry. The effect of the changes has been the abandoning of files by Counselors at mid-point and without most of the funds exhausted.
An agreement to utilize a Counselor results in the parties placing a call to said counselor’s office to determine if they are still in business. Injured workers are finding themselves out on a limb when they cannot move forward with a proposed plan because their counselor has suddenly and inexplicably gone M.I.A.
Is it human nature and therefore “business nature” that when the situation becomes dire humans and businesses begin to behave poorly, but do so because the end is near?
A bit of research on the internet quickly led some interesting facts about Mpower. Mpower has had an interesting past and in 2002 filed for bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy protection was so massive that Mpower effectively retired over $583.4 Million Dollars of debt. The brunt of this debt was to the very same telcos from which Mpower leased telephone lines. This is one of the main reasons why most telcos would be happy as clams to see the CLECs similar to Mpower vanish from the marketplace.
The dilemma faced by Mpower back in 2002 has not gone away and in fact the companies like other CLECs face difficult futures. An article on Wikipedia about CLEC’s states the following, “In October 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court's ruling stand (by refusing to hear the appeal) that voided rules requiring ILECs to lease certain network elements (such as local switching or the high-frequency portion of the loop) at a cost-based regulated wholesale price to CLECs.”
In other words the rules set forth by congress which allowed for CLEC’s to enter the telecommunications market are largely being rewritten. The result is that market forces are rewriting the rules for companies like Mpower in the same manner that the internet is rewriting the way we conduct business.
The problem faced by Mpower is that it is powerless to change. It has lost sight of the value of its customers this is a direct reaction to market forces it feels it is powerless to control and has resigned itself to be slowly and methodically be driven from the market. The slow demise of Mpower could take many years, but slowly and painfully it will suffer such fate leaving space for fresh new start-up companies that will embrace technology and focus on providing good “customer service”.