The Emperor's New Customer Service Mantra
As we enter the spring of 2007, we have all been exposed to ever increasing volumes of propaganda on matters such as 'striving for ever increasing service excellence', 'providing the optimum customer experience', 'putting our customers first' and so on and so forth. These all originate from those organisations seeking to serve us -either as an existing customer or as a new one.
Sadly in many cases, this is all window dressing carried out by organisations who feel they ought to make appropriate noises to be seen to be doing the right thing but who have no intention of changing their bad habits in the way that they 'look after' their customers. It is not small, low resourced companies who are to blame - the main offenders are those household names who have huge customer bases and don't care if they lose the odd one here or there because they feel they have their clients locked in as it's juts too much trouble to change.
I had an experience with an organisation earlier today who were representing my mobile phone service provider. Yes, representing my service provider i.e they couldn't be bothered to call me directly. Said representative left me a message suggesting that he could provide me with a free upgrade etc. So I called back, more for research purposes than anything else, and I wasn't disappointed. I spent the first five minutes explaining (to the person who'd originally contacted me) why I was calling. I then had another 5 minutes repeating myself and confirming my details and was then told I was out of contract - something I'm well aware of because I'd told my provider several months ago that I was not renewing my contract as I was dissatisfied and wanted the ability to move when I found a better option. I kept that information to myself, expecting the agent to be aware of this. Clearly he was not. I was subsequently offered a free upgrade or a loyalty cheque (a pittance for the pleasure of being overcharged for a further 12 months). I have a PDA and explained that if I could upgrade this, I'd happily consider an extension on the understanding that the constant data service overcharging I'd been experiencing was removed as an issue.
It will come as no surprise that PDAs were off the upgrade list for reason's unknown to the agent. I then explained that I was in the process of looking for another contract and was immediately informed that as the company dealing with me was not a division of my provider, they could give me contract options from other mobile companies!
I regularly pay over £100 per month and so when you consider the average revenue per user is around £38 a month, I would have thought I was worth keeping. However, my provider not only loses sight of me and my requirements, it will also lose my revenue. Also, they will suffer as they are being represented by a company that is happy to switch sell and support the move away from the company that is paying it to manage existing clients - astonishing!
I'm almost tempted to cancel my contract and then go back as a new user to see how I get treated - you can bet that it will be markedly better than I have been as a long term customer.
So, for all the hype and bluster, there really are very few organisations today that have mastered the art of looking after their clients in a consistent manner that is highly effective, personal and satisfying. Oh well, I live in constant hope that more will eventually get it right by adopting customer facing service strategies that are joined up and supported by good processes, excellent people where necessary and excellent technology that supports unified communications with clients in an intelligent personal manner.
Author: Tim Easton - Published: 25 April 2007
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