Between work and home (and work at home) I manage about 30 electronics devices, if I leave out home repair tools and kitchen gadgets. WII and XBOX and LDC display monitors, home theater, two printers, three hard wired phone systems, two mobile communication tools, a camera that is way beyond just a camera, router, modems, five laptops, a wireless network, and a surveillance system (don’t ask). And then there are the various personal devices my children communicate with, and my parents. I’m not sure I am any different than a lot of other folks in a busy digital household.
Somehow stuff seems to work. The Apple Network handles the Microsoft-based operating systems alongside the printers and MACs. The home theater keeps on. The modem to router to wireless device to stereo receiver to wireless speakers miraculously lets me listen to music from Sri Lanka or Kyoto.
But then there are the glitches. When some input connection rejects a signal, and you don’t know which of the multiple devices needs a configuration change. Do I call Sony or Nintendo or Comcast? Is it the receiver or set top box or display or AV? Sometimes the written instructions are so off-base that one laughs. Then off I go to a forum – but which one? Or to Google. Then to one and then another manufacturer’s website.
It is then that you realize that the consumer is on their own. The manufacturer takes the money from the reseller, and off goes the shiny box to the happy consumer. No one is going to ask in the store or on the website: what are you hooking that up to? Do you know how? Do you know how to get help if you need it? Would you like to register this now and confirm when you set it up so we can detect your settings? Did you know you are missing a component? Would you like firmware alerts?
Last night I spent 45 minutes going through such an exercise. Finally I got to the Chat line (24 hours a day!!!), and after the mind-numbing tranfer of basic details came the quicksand of ignorance from the support person. They can’t see me or detect my product or know any of the technical details, and of course I don’t have the model number of the monitor hanging on the wall, and once I fetch it, it turns out it doesn’t matter. At the end of 45 minutes I sugested we part ways and cut our losses.
Tens of billions of dollars /Euro – pick a currency – are lost each year because of poorly designed service processes and inferior knowledge management in the consumer electronics industry and Retail. But when talking to leaders at these same businesses, they cannot list the top ten or top one hundred most frequently asked problems submitted by consumers. They know their sales numbers, marketing budgets, manufacturing costs, major competitors and market share, etc., but not the major causes of lost revenue through service and support and returns.
If you know a business where this is difference, let me know. There is a lot of lip service that the business is focused on the customer as much as on profit, yet at the moments of truth, the evidence that this is true often is lacking.