Has Customer Service for All Our Great Technology Caught Up?

Great thoughts from Marc Petock:

Has Customer Service for All Our Great Technology Caught Up?

By Marc Petock 

As a follow up to my August 4 article, Customer Service Will Make or Break Your Brand, I thought as a follow up, I’d share the following article I wrote and published on September 26, 2015. Customer service is part of the backbone of a successful brand. Brands that prioritize customer satisfaction, responsiveness, and engagement build strong relationships with their customers, foster loyalty, and create a positive image that can withstand challenges and competition in the market. Investing in quality customer service is an investment in the brand’s long-term growth and prosperity.

Here is the article: 

I think we all can agree that technology is advancing at speeds we never expected. However, while technology has advanced to make our business and personal lives easier, the customer experience and customer service supporting all the great technology we have at our disposal has not. Several recent experiences have led me to think this way.

My wife’s cell phone died. Ok it happens. Not a big deal, right? Think again. I accompanied her to her service provider’s retail location. Encountering a friendly “greeter” identified as a customer service technician (that was a red flag that this was not going to be a pleasant experience as customer service and technician titles don’t mix well together), my wife proceeded to explain why she was there. It was very simple; her phone died, and she wanted to purchase a new one to replace it. During the wait time of 39 minutes prior to being helped by another customer service technician (there’s that title again), she picked out a phone.

Once her number was called and she met her customer service technician, my wife went on to tell him what she wanted—-purchase the new phone she just picked out because her 4 year old phone died; pay for the phone immediately with a credit card; keep on the same service plan she has had for years at the same monthly charge and was not interested in anything else. You would think simple, easy, no problem; think again. The customer service technician looked up her account and acknowledged her longevity and excellent payment history with the company. She has been a loyal customer to this provider for 17 years; is sold on their technology hype…4G, LTE, data speeds and even refuses to listen to or engage in other providers solicitations which we all are bombarded with daily. She is a poster child of true brand and customer loyalty at its best.

Instead of taking care of this simple request, the CST (now I have gone to initials), told her that to get a new phone (of any kind), she had to add the cost of the phone as monthly charge to her bill and get a new service plan. Well, as you can imagine, this did not go over too well. After an hour of going back and forth (we are now there for an hour and 39 minutes) and even getting the manager involved, this went from ridiculous to obscured and at the end of the day, was not going to end to my wife’s satisfaction.

Her experience, combined with the unsatisfactory experiences I encountered earlier in the week with a technology supplier to us in our business got me to thinking, has customer service and the customer experience for all our great technology caught up with the technology?

As I thought more about it, I recalled the scene in Five Easy Pieces in which Jack Nicholson’s character was trying to order a side order of wheat toast and said there is a parallel here.

When developing and providing technology we need to also think about designing how customer service and the customer experience impact the technology. We should also look at it from a CLV perspective (Customer Lifetime Value—CLV is the value a customer contributes to your business over the entire lifetime at your company). These are equal components that need to be thought out and are as much in creating value as the technology itself. Without them, the benefits and value of technology is deeply diminished.

As Bain consultant Fred Reichheld pointed out in his Harvard Business Review article a while back, “The One Number You Need to Grow,” the value of any one customer does not reside only in what that person buys. In these interconnected days, how your customers feel about you and what they are prepared to tell others about you can influence your revenues and profits just as much.

Then there is what I refer to as the “1 for 10 principal”.  If a person has a good experience with a provider of a product, solution, or service they will tell one individual about their experience: if they have a bad experience, they tell ten people (or today, it is more …hello social media and our connected world).


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