Ina Fried

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Sprint CEO Hesse: Good Customer Service Costs Less

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said Tuesday that, like a good Olympic athlete, his company is always going to be focused on setting a new personal best.

There are still plenty of areas where Sprint trails its competitors, he said. But things are getting better every quarter.

“What you are not going to see around here are any ‘mission accomplished’ signs,” Hesse told a group of journalists — including AllThingsD — who have been touring the company’s Kansas headquarters over the past two days. “We are on a long-term turnaround plan.”

One of the big areas of improvement has been in customer service. A couple years ago, the company was ranked one of the worst in the industry and, at the same time, Sprint was spending twice as much as it does today, because it was dealing with more support calls and issuing bill credits to dissatisfied customers.

“Great customer service costs less,” Hesse said. “When we were last in the industry, we were spending twice as much.”

By cutting down on the reasons for customers to call in, Sprint has been able to close 29 call centers and yet still answer calls faster, Hesse said. Last quarter, the company had its fewest-ever calls from customers, and issued the smallest amount in bill credits.

Sprint is also finally gaining more customers from rivals than it is seeing defect to other carriers. After the company’s history of more net defections, more customers are now bringing their phone line to Sprint than are porting their number out — a metric that has now been positive for eight straight quarters.

That has been particularly important now that nearly everyone has a cellphone, meaning the battle is increasingly about winning over existing customers.

“It will be very important to do very well in the switching market,” Hesse said.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work