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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Why isn't customer service about the customer?

Customer service should be designed to meet the needs of the customer, not the needs of business. And yet many of my own recent experiences seem to me to underline that decisions are based on cost saving and improving internal processes, than actually improving the customer’s experience.

Take my recent experience with my broadband supplier. I contacted them because I was having difficulty switching to online billing, I had recently moved house and my online account was somehow still ‘connected’ to my old address. The ‘moving house’ system had failed and I had to ring to ‘fix it’.

I couldn’t find a phone number on the website. All I could find was a ‘self-help’ system. Another 10 minutes studying that was no help at all! When I finally found a number, from a marketing leaflet, I went through to the sales line. The website made it very difficult for an existing customer to get help; trying to divert contact towards lower cost online help systems.

The agent explained that to switch to online billing, I would need to do it via my online account; he couldn’t do it over the phone. I explained the problem and he managed to alter my online account to my new address. I asked again if he could now switch me to online billing, but he couldn’t. I pointed out that he was logged in to my account, so it would be quicker and handier if he could adjust it for me. He explained that wasn’t possible, I would have to log on.

The agent could fix part of the problem (the part that of moving home process that was broken) but couldn’t actually solve my reason for calling – because the process wouldn’t allow it, despite the fact it would have been quicker for me to do it on the phone, there and then.

After the call, I was asked to rate the customer service. I thought the feedback would help. The feedback specifically asked me to rate the agent. But the problem wasn’t him it was the processes that were broken.

A feedback system that was truly interested in improving the customer’s experience would evaluate the whole experience, not just the part the organisation is interested in. But in truth the system is put in place to make training and coaching easier. To the customer, this feels all wrong. It actually feels like you are not interested in hearing their views. I felt frustrated and annoyed at the end of my experience anyway, but this system made me even angrier. It was as if the organisation was trying to say “we’re not interested in your views, just what we need to know to make our jobs easier”.

The final result is not at all customer focussed, only internally focused and self-seeking on the part of the organisations.

Isn’t it time we put the customer back into customer service?

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