Expectations Are Reality So Know What You’re Delivering

Just spent a frustrating hour on the phone with AT&T. Normally, they’re just fine. We’ve had our cell service through them for years, and everything has been simple and obvious and working.

Sunday, I called to order a new line and a new iPhone. They let me choose a new number I liked.

It was easy; too easy . . .

When the order was confirmed by email, it was for a different number.

Not a bad number (I requested 715 205 5677 and got 715 205 5355) but not what I’d requested. I figured if it was easy to change, I’d take the number I really wanted, but if not, the number I had wasn’t bad.

After 15 minutes and 4 transfers, the on hold music became a recording telling me my call couldn’t be completed and I should try again. Then it hung up.

I called again, and after an hour and 3 more transfers, someone finally told me that iPhones come preactivated, so the 5355 number was already active, and the only way to change it was to send me a new SIM card with the new number.

Well, after spending 4 hours on the phone and online making sure it was right on Sunday, then another hour on the phone today, I was frustrated and wanted what I wanted because when I’m angry I get childish. (I’m probably the only person who is like that.) So they’re going to overnight me a new SIM card with the new phone number.

If the first person I spoke to had just said “Those phones come preactivated, so to get the number you wanted we’ll have to send you a new SIM card” I might just have chosen to leave things be and take the other number. But because my expectations were elsewhere, they’re spending time and money and effort they could have gone without, and I had a less-than-perfect experience.

Clarify expectations in advance. The person you’re talking to may very well care about the same things you do. They may well understand how complicated their request is, and what you’ll have to do to make things happen.

But don’t assume. Find out what they’re really thinking. Explain what’s really happening on your end. Good communication is when everything is on the table, when all the participants in the conversation have access to the same information.

When information is withheld, or simply missing, confusion and frustration are inevitable.

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