Confessions of an Enlightened Customer

posted Sep 13, 2010, 9:30 AM by Michael Hoffman   [ updated Sep 13, 2010, 10:00 AM ]
Confessions of an Enlightened Customer
(by the way—why the heck am I on hold? )

Confession 1: I started writing this book (Customer Worthy) while on hold with my cell
phone company (Free book if you guess which cell phone company), listening to horrific canned music and hearing this recording every 90 seconds: 

“Your call is very important to us . . . You can also get assistance online . . . Have you seen our latest — ?”

It is all about me, the customer

I started writing, “Twenty minutes online . . .now on hold 11 minutes . . . ”

So, why am I still on hold? 

Because it is the only way to resolve my issue
regarding the continued incorrect billing for my service, which is now a
whopping month-end bill of $1,700. It should have been closer to $40.
And the call-holding message keeps telling me: 

“Your issue can probably be resolved online. Please visit us at XXX.com.”

So frustrating. I sketched out the spreadsheet you see below, logging my
time waiting for the phone company the same way I would log time for billing
one of my customers. Using some generic numbers from my call center
consulting days, my frustration grew with every wasted minute because,
obviously, no one at the phone company seemed to have any interest in
calculating what a service issue costs a customer.



The $100 Billion Problem

I know I’m not alone in my frustration. The CSR on this call was kind enough
to remind me, “Sir, we have over 60 million customers to take care of, and
now they are waiting behind your call . . .”

Really? After a brief moment of feeling pity for her and the personal
burden she carried in supporting 60 million service-inflicted customers, it
occurred to me: “What if all 60 million customers were experiencing the
same on-hold frustration?” I quickly started my calculation, and the numbers
floored me. My wireless phone company was costing its customers
$99,180,000,000. That’s nearly one hundred billion dollars that customers
pay in addition to their monthly bill! And what do we as “customers” get
in return? Please hold for the answer . . .

Here is the core customer problem: Companies—not just in the communications
industry—don’t keep score by customer. At the executive and
corporate levels, management does not measure the time customers invest
in researching vendors, building their solutions, using services, resolving
issues, the efforts a customer makes to assist in problem resolution, or the
sacrifices and inconveniences a customer pays. 

This strategy worked until recently when the World Wide Web gave customers a voice and a platform
to speak to one another, news agencies, and prospective customers.

Customer satisfaction surveys—Net Promoter Score, J.D. Power, and other
“everything is all right” customer satisfaction measurement methods—miss
the point. They are too far away from the customers, the interactions, and
the phone call. The “long tail” is on the phone right now. This is “long tail”
meets the Pareto Principle.

Key Takeaway: 

Poor customer experience design is expensive for everyone, but it is most expensive for customers.

This is why the CxC Matrix that you will learn about in this book is so
important. It can be used to fix the customer problems and improve service
delivery from the moment a customer begins the journey to fulfill a need
all the way to product or service disposal.

Poor customer experience leads to incredible expense—not just for companies,
but for customers. (At the time of this writing, the wireless phone
company’s annual report says that it spent $21 billion in “selling, general, and
administrative expense.”) Even if I discount the cost of my personal experience
by 90 percent, it means that my wireless company cost its customers
nearly ten billion dollars that goes unreported.

The point is that with all of the investments in product development,
sales, marketing, and customer service systems, companies continue to
waste an unfathomable amount of customer time—waiting for the technician
to arrive to load software or install cable, waiting for a salesperson to
return a call, waiting for the answer to an emailed question, trying to figure
out how to use a product.

Will I ever do business with the wireless phone company again? Reluctantly,
I already have.

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