Xconomy Poll: What’s the Hardest Thing About Launching A Business? Hey, Verizon, You Listening?

1/10/08

Yes, we are biased—we admit it. But, hey, six months of dealing with Verizon customer service agents who can’t get your order straight, keep losing records of your calls, erroneously cut off your service (and then charge you to have it turned back on)—and are snarly about the whole thing to boot—kind of makes you lose your objectivity. And that was after the Verizon installation guy spent a couple hours on his cell phone and billed us for the full time he was in our offices supposedly working. So we decided to check in with our readers—and fellow entrepreneurs—to gauge their point of view. Maybe our experience, after all, was the exception.

We crafted a poll (see the bottom right corner of the site) that asked readers for their view on the hardest thing about launching a business, cleverly concealing the true intent of our survey by listing “Dealing with Verizon’s ‘customer service’” as just one of the choices, along with other basics: raising funding, hiring core workers, finding customers, and IP protection.

And guess what? For a week, Verizon was at the top of the results, with more than 50 percent of the vote. And while, admittedly, fewer votes have been cast in the poll than in the New Hampshire primaries, Verizon is still surprisingly high up the ladder–in a three-way tie for second place with “raising funding” and “hiring the core team,” all at 23 percent of the votes, and just a hair behind first-place “finding the first customers,” which has garnered 26 percent of votes cast.

Think about this: successfully installing and managing phone and Internet is as hard for entrepreneurs as raising venture capital and finding core customers—and it’s harder than acquiring key technology. Does this mean the folks over at Harvard Business School and the Sloan School of Management need to be thinking about a new entrepreneurial seminar? Have their curricula overlooked this fundamental aspect of starting a business?

Of course, the returns aren’t all in, and Verizon might plummet to the bottom of the list as more votes stream in. But geez, Verizon, this has got to tell you something.

Hello, Verizon?

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  • Jim Poe

    I couldn’t agree more with this piece on Verizon, so add another vote to the tally against them. I owned a business for 9 years during which time our adds/moves/changes via Verizon were a persistent nightmare and, partially as a hangover from this experience, recently even switched our home service to Comcast, in large part so I never again have to speak with a Verizon Customer Service rep. This company is the first (and my only) to actually have a departement called “Customer Advocacy” and do they ever need it!