When Customer Support is the only number Part II

Last week I wrote about an interaction I had with a large well-known brand that provides services for homeowners.  It was a cautionary tale about how challenging it is to actually communicate with some brands.

A brief overview of that instance:  At home, we had a service provider with which we’d had a pretty mundane failure, and they fixed us up right away.  In the course of that incident, however, we discovered a more severe potential issue, but we had no way to communicate—or even look into—our concern about that, because it wasn’t related to the actual support incident itself and Support was actually an impediment to us addressing it.  Again, that brand is a huge, well-known name in their market, and my conclusion was that they likely simply didn’t care because they were so big; corporate inertia, and so forth.

As it happens, at about the same time we also had an incident with a smaller, start-up brand, that just happens to be in the home-services sector as well.  This is that story, which actually has some curious similarities, even though the brands are in such different places. (more…)

By | 2022-01-19T16:46:46+00:00 January 19th, 2022|Categories: Consulting, CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

When Customer Support is the only number Part I

I had a support incident a while back with one of the service providers we use in our home.  In fact, I had two incidents in close succession with two different brands. Each situation was similar in nature:  There was a technical issue that was quickly and easily rectified, but on further inspection (the technical issue brought to light), I realized that I wasn’t really getting what I’d expected out of the services I was paying for.  One of the brands is a large well-known home-service provider that I’ll write about here.  The other was a smaller, start-up brand also in the home-service field, and I’ll write about that in another article.  Both of them, however…and possibly for different reasons…displayed the same myopia when it came to my concerns as a Customer.

Without getting too specific about or directly calling out the big brand, the business model is that we pay a monthly service fee and as part of that, this company monitors one of the systems we have hooked up in the house.  At one point we noticed that our system was offline:  not working or responding to the remote function we have through apps on our phones.  Only, we weren’t alerted that there was a problem, rather we had to find out on our own after who-knows-how-long of our system not being operational.  Until then, we’d assumed that the company was actively keeping track of the status and health of the system…we’d surely be alerted via our app if, say, the system went offline.  Turns out not. (more…)

By | 2022-01-12T16:45:12+00:00 January 12th, 2022|Categories: Consulting, CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

The pilot cares the least

So, here’s a controversial statement, but keep in mind what I’m not saying*:  Usually, your flight crew, including the pilot, is the least motivated people on the plane to get where you’re going, let alone on time.

This occurred to me last year when I went on a mileage run.  The same crew that flew me from Denver to Los Angeles was flying me right back again about 45 minutes later on the exact same plane.  Or at least, that was the plan.

After we landed at LAX, I took the chance to check out the airline’s lounge and have a drink.  I was alerted via the app that my return flight was delayed ‘due to weather’ back in Denver.  Hm, really?  I’d just flown from there (and boy were my arms tired!).  Not only was it beautiful when we left, but we hadn’t passed any weather on the way out.  Conditions can change quickly, so I checked my weather app.  It was clear as ever, a beautiful day back home.

Now, my point isn’t necessarily to call shenanigans on those making the decision about the weather, rather for some reason I immediately thought of the pilot.  He surely didn’t have anything to do with it, but he likely didn’t pick up his phone and check his weather app to see if there really was weather like I and probably most passengers had, and neither did anybody else in the crew, I imagine.  That’s because he doesn’t have to care about it in any meaningful way personally.

You see, when you think about it, pilots, flight attendants, and all those folks in the air with you are all simply doing their jobs.  These jobs are important and, for the most part, they all do them well and admirably while also caring about their Customers.  But… (more…)

By | 2022-01-05T17:57:53+00:00 January 5th, 2022|Categories: Consulting, CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

When your numbers are more important than your Customers

I was flying home to Denver a few months back from a business trip.  It was an evening flight, perhaps not the last flight on the route (it was hub-to-hub for the airline, so the route sees a lot of traffic), but close to it, and we were—of course—late getting in.  It was a mechanical issue, not weather, so we were a flight that was alone in its circumstance.  Sometimes when there’s weather impacting a city (whether departure or destination), there’s a feeling that, well, at least the whole place is a mess.  There’s something more isolating when it’s only your flight that’s delayed.

Since I was coming home, I was a little perturbed, but not too concerned.  I, of course, wanted to get home from my trip, but once the plane landed, other than the drive, my travels were basically over.  As often happens, on approach the flight attendant came across the intercom and asked those of us who were terminating (I never liked that turn of phrase in this situation) in Denver to step aside and allow those trying to connect to deplane (another term I never liked) first. (more…)

By | 2021-12-22T16:29:38+00:00 December 22nd, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Don’t call us

I received another one just this morning, and you may have also.  It’s an email from a company that just loves its Customers, but implores them to not write back.  So emphatic are they about how important their Customers are to them that they explicitly go out of their way to forestall communications.

Of course, I’m talking about the un-monitored email box.

“Do not reply to this message. Replies to this message are routed to an unmonitored mailbox.”  That’s word-for-word the quote on an email from quite possibly one of the most celebrated Customer-centric brands you’ve ever heard of.  Yep, that one. (more…)

By | 2021-12-15T16:04:26+00:00 December 15th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

It’s not your fault but it is your responsibility

I recently wrote about how important it is that brands not just be competent in delivering the products or services they provide to their Customers.  From perusing your website, to making a selection there or in a physical location, to paying, to delivery, use, and re-purchase, Customers engage with your company along an entire journey filled with touchpoints not only directly related to what you build or do, but also in ways you might not even consider.  If your Brand Promise is ease-of-use, you may make your product uncomplicated and simple.  But if your ordering process or refund and exchange requirements are not simple, you’ve missed the mark in fulfilling that Brand Promise.

What’s tricky is that often, you actually have little direct control because you’re dealing with outside entities.  Perhaps you contract or otherwise partner with another company to help you out, like last-mile delivery or sub-contracted service providers.  But how closely do you monitor them, and how do you hold them to account for delivering your Brand Promise?  Or do you even bother? (more…)

By | 2021-12-08T16:07:50+00:00 December 8th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Adversity brings out true character

There’s a saying that you can really tell a lot about people’s character by seeing how they handle adversity.  Sure, when things are going well, everybody’s got a great disposition, the idea goes.  But it’s when we’re tested that our true selves show through.

I was thinking of that recently when we had an Internet outage here at home.  Now, anybody who expects perfect 100% around-the-clock unfailing coverage of services such as Internet is being unreasonable.  I’m not sure what planet those Customers call home, but it’s not the one of humans and systems that go down from time to time.  So yes, failure, even if rare, is inevitable.  And that’s the point that brings us around to that old saying:  How well brands plan for the inevitable (and therefore totally foreseeable, if not specifically schedulable) failures of their systems—and this goes for those brands who sell products too, not just service providers—tells us a lot about their dedication to their Customers.

It’s pertinent because here’s what happened: (more…)

By | 2021-12-02T16:01:36+00:00 December 2nd, 2021|Categories: CX Culture, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

Excuses versus solutions

You’ve heard this before, right?  “Due to current circumstances, we’re experiencing longer-than-usual wait times.”  Those “circumstances” can vary.  Over the past twenty months, of course, it has been Covid-19.  Sometimes it’s the holidays.  Sometimes brands stiff-arm you without even giving you the courtesy of telling you why.  There’s even a brand that I call rarely…maybe once or twice a year…and they’ve been using the longer-than-usual wait times idiom as long as I can remember.  Whenever was it ‘usual’?

Here’s the thing:  Things are tough all over. (more…)

By | 2021-11-17T16:03:42+00:00 November 17th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts|0 Comments

VoC begets VoC

I’m always championing active use of your Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights.  After all, I say, if you’re just collecting your Customers’ insights but not doing anything with them, that’s a huge waste of resources.  Normally when I talk about that, I’m referring to the importance of having a robust and enterprise-wide Process Engineering (PE) function within your company:  A group of process experts whose job it is to take those insights and put them to use improving and updating your procedures, processes, and policies so as to better align your Customers’ experiences with your Brand Promise.  It’s the engine of your CX function; it’s what makes all that effort worthwhile in the first place.

But, did you know you can also use your VoC insights to inform…your VoC work itself?  When you gain insights about gaps between your Customers’ experiences and your Brand Promise, surely you’re feeding into the bigger CX ecosystem with direction on where to improve your processes.  But you’re also offering insights into what better questions you can ask within your VoC program itself.  Although you need to have more going on than just surveys, usually they’re the biggest (and most visible) part of the VoC program.  But surveys aren’t usually all that dynamic.  It isn’t often that brands crack them open and update the questions they’re asking.  That’s a shame because with the freedom that many survey vendors allow for their clients these days, updating and changing your survey questions is often relatively simple. (more…)

By | 2021-11-10T15:52:56+00:00 November 10th, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics, VoC|0 Comments

Are we challenging CX?

One of the roles we, as CX professionals, play, is that of change agents.  I realize that’s a term people toss out there when they want to seem important or progressive in business, but when you think about it, one of the core jobs we have is to challenge people to take a different perspective; that of the Customer.

In fact, a Process Engineer who used to work for me would say all the time that we need to ‘take off our corporate hat and put on our Customer hat.’  It was a great metaphor, and we even had hats made up for the entire CX team that read “Customer”, one of which I still have on my desk at home. (more…)

By | 2021-11-03T15:33:41+00:00 November 3rd, 2021|Categories: Consulting, CX Strategy, CX Thoughts, Measures & Metrics, Process Engineering|0 Comments