Yesterday I was on the call with my communication services provider. The people that, when dinosaurs ruled the earth (several large software companies come to mind – I know some cynics were thinking that), were called the phone company. They have my internet, broadband and home (IP-based) phone. I had a simple but annoying question: they provide two phone numbers, one a ‘full feature’ line with voice mail, caller ID, call forwarding and more. The other line is just a line, and they gouge the customer another $10 for this ‘extra’ number with no features accept a dial tone. Basically a lot of money for very little. OK, nothing new.
I wanted to ask the company if I could just add caller ID to the second line. The website was unclear. I dialled the ‘customer care’ group. The first 2:08 was spent identifying myself through voice prompts. The next :58 was on hold. Then 4:16 explaining my situation to a ‘care’ agent, who then transferred me to technical support (3:40) who then passed me on to sales, where I spent the next 8:06.
What did I get for my 20 minutes, two channels (web and phone) and three representatives, besides the runaround? Well, everyone was polite. They invited me to take a survey. No one is in any position to do anything except tell you the facts. None of them can ‘capture’ feedback that will lead to someone speaking to you about your experience.
But boy oh boy, have they got surveys! Like sands in the Kalahari. They also have a customer forum, and Twitter, and a facebook page. And everyone is so polite and helpful, even though they aren’t because they can’t be.
Imagine a scenario where I could go to the website and use a natural language menu to select my real issue in my own words, and then submit that query to a queue that would then result in an outbound call to me on my mobile device or home phone or Skype or whatever I designated? Imagine if that agent had my record open and understood my product portfolio and status of services? Imagine if they had a way to anticipate the likely nature of my question based on my direct description?
Rather than focus on true customer value, it’s Bread and Circus. This is where the concept of the Customer-Centric Enterprise really begins to take hold.
For all of the talk about advanced technologies, the largest and most profitable technology vendors have little interest in helping you solve your most pressing business problem: customer excellence.
OK – this is my final post before our conference next week in Los Angeles. I’ll let you know how it goes!