A collection of articles written by Customer 1st
Managing Customer Experience Across Service Channels
By Trevor Arden
I suffered a series of very negative experiences as a customer recently when I interacted with a large European electricity supplier. My initial problem arose when I needed to conduct what I had thought would be a straightforward, commonplace transaction: transferring a domestic electricity supply contract from the builder of a new house to myself as the owner. Not only was there a mountain of paperwork for me to find and send to the utility company, but also, it seemed that, every time I interacted with the company, by email, telephone or web, the requirement seemed to be a little different. It was like becoming stuck in mud; every time I thought I understood what specific set of documents the company needed to transfer the contract, upon sending them through I received a reply explaining how they needed some additional information from me, some of which was hard to get hold of. I really was sinking in a pit of bureaucracy!
Starting all over again, every time
The worst part of the nightmare was that the company’s service channels appeared to be totally unconnected. If I spoke to someone (often very helpful) on the phone, there was no possibility of them recording the information in my burgeoning file so that the next time I interacted, my previous progress could be recalled by another customer service agent. On the contrary, every customer service agent started from scratch.
Disconnected service channels
I could also email the company, via their website, very easily. When I did so, I received an instant (standard) response, explaining that they had received my email and would deal with it within a day. This always happened, which was great, but either the documents I emailed never reached my file or else my questions were answered with a long-winded explanation of what I would need to do to resolve my problem. Great, you would think, but it turned out to be impossible to resolve anything by email, since the people who responded to emails clearly lived in a different universe to the people who answered the phone! I didn’t even consider visiting one of the company’s offices after listening to similar, desperate tales of woe from friends who had tried the face-to-face channel with no success, one acquaintance even explaining they wouldn’t let him into the office without some sort of security clearance.
Map the customer journey
So what could this company do to improve? I think it’s quite simple. They need to respond to customers’ needs by listening to what the customer wants, taking ownership of the issue and doing whatever is necessary to resolve it. Rather than having a process, different in each service channel, for dealing with customers on the phone, face-to-face, by email and online, the company should integrate their silo-based procedures so that every interaction with a customer results in an update to the customer’s record, at least then allowing other employees to pick up the issue at a later stage. Even better, why doesn’t this company properly map the customer’s journey, identify where the bottlenecks and disconnections are, and address them with a new set of customer centric processes. That would be wonderful!
Trevor Arden, Customer 1st International