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Customer Retention, Customer Service, Customer Experience The Rant Goes On

by David Brock on March 23rd, 2012

A couple of days ago, I ranted, in part, about my experience with my past computer supplier.  We had depended on their computers for many years.  Over the past several weeks, I have had power supply, battery problems and related issues.

I’ve spent hours on the phone with customer service representatives.  Each one of them has been very polite and reassuring, “We will get your problem solved!.”  As we’ve been “solving” my problem, I get passed to different departments.  Each department is apparently responsible for a particular aspect of the problem.  One is software and overall system, one is hardware, one is parts, one is warranty replacement parts.

Each time, I have to go through the same story, give them the same customer numbers, email addresses, problem ID’s.  I ask, “Can’t you see these in your problem notes?”  Some can’t see the “problem notes.”  On Monday, I thought we had a plan of action.

In the days that have passed, I’ve been inundated (well maybe I’m overstating it, it’s been probably about 10 different emails) with emails:  “Mr. Brock, we are dedicated to customer service and solving your problem.  I am following up on problem number XXXX, is it resolved, can I close it out.”

To each I respond, “The problem is still open, my computer doesn’t work!  Don’t you see that in your notes?”  A few have responded, “We have no notes about your computer not working, I am checking to see if you have the new shipment of your battery.”  Or it might be a different problem.

I’ve come to learn, I own the “PROBLEM,”  that is the computer doesn’t work. The very helpful people seeking to resolve my problem are actually following up only on their portion of the problem–did the BIOS upgrade work, did you get the new power supply, did you get the new battery?  Each wants to solve their part of the problem, no one owns my problem–getting the computer to work.  I really don’t care about their problems, I care about my problem.  However, I am forced to care about their problems, because if I don’t respond, the problem is closed as “solved, customer happy.”  The customer is very unhappy, and getting even unhappier as I have to respond to their view of the problem without having anyone accountable for solving my problem.

When we set up our customer service and problem solving approaches, it’s critical to look at things from the customer point of view–What problem does the customer want to have solved?  Even though a number of departments may be involved in “solving the problem,” it’s the customer’s problem that counts, not their departmental problem.

It’s critical that management provides customer service departments with the tools to understand the customer’s problem.  Too many of the people I have dealt with in this incident only see their part of the problem in the customer record, and are oblivious to my problem.  They get confused and frustrated with my impatience and frustration.

Things are so much simpler, if we always start with the customer point of view.  The customer isn’t always right, I may not be in some of this particular incident, but right or wrong, I have a perception of the problem I want solve–I want my supplier to help me solve that problem, not theirs.

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  1. Dave, thanks for this, great böog post!
    Your core message is really excellent and hits the nail on the head:

    “Things are so much simpler, if we always start with the customer point of view.”

    But thinking through what “working backwards from the customer” actually means, is still a huge challenge. It sounds so easy, but it’s not, definitely not. Over decades, sales and service worked from an inside-out view based on GoToMarket models.
    What we have to do now, is changing the way of thinking and working (!) to an outside-in view to be able to achieve the customer’s desired outcome, here just a properly working computer!

    To be able to really work backwards from the customer, requires another level of engaging and working together – I don’t want to stress collaborating too much 😉
    At the end of the day, the customer has to be part of the engagement and service model in a ways, that the vendor is able to understand and to really meet the customer’s desired outcome – end2end, not in terms of piece parts only!

    • Thanks for the great insight Tamara. It seems so easy and natural to start with the customer, but it’s so seldom done. Those that do this consistently, out perform others.

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