Customer Experience and Customer Service: Still As Bad as Ever

by Marianne Richmond on September 7, 2006

Having been totally involved with a really fun project has not only kept me from writing any blog posts, it has also kept me from reading very many blogs. I am feeling slightly disconnected and since my two previous posts were about Snakes on a Plane, a little sheepish. Does anyone remember SoaP?

 I am going to blog about the really fun project in my next blog post but thought I would try a soft re-entry first…. ranting about awful customer service. What prompted it was back-to-back poor customer experiences in my life as a customer; but being a marketing type these experiences always take on that dimension. You can have a great product. You can have great advertising. You can provide bad customer service and/or a bad customer experience and soon your product and your advertising don’t matter.

Peter Kim of Forrester Research found that of the 104 marketing executives surveyed in his report on Reinventing the Marketing Organization, 78% don’t influence customer service. Seems like a disconnect in the food chain and it is so evident in the marketplace.

Pete Blackshaw said it best when he wrote, "There’s a conspicuous, almost-comical division between the marketing and consumer affairs departments, and this makes absolutely no sense in this age of consumer control, media fragmentation, and engagement as a core advertising effectiveness metric."

So, as a consumer today, this is what I experienced….

 I asked my bank, First Banks, several questions on Tuesday. Today, I had to send an email requesting a call back on one of them by close of business. I did get the call and the answers given to my questions were astounding. I kept thinking during the conversation that this was such a disconnect from what it said in their brochure about their services and wondered if the person I was speaking to had read it; I also couldn’t help but wonder what the marketing department would think of the response I was getting.

 I got a call back about another question later; where was my business debit card replacement. The response I got was that they had faxed me a form to sign and had not received it back. Therefore, that was why I had not received the card. In other words, my fault, not their fault. No, no apology; just an offer to re-send it to me. Well, I checked and sure enough I had received a fax from them on August 7th and returned it to them on August 7th. I had a confirmation. I emailed them back informing them of this. Haven’t heard back.

The woman at the Walgreen’s asked me when I would be back to pick up my prescription. I said 15 minutes. She said, it will be ready in 2 hours. So, why did you ask me?

Charter Communications’ automated payment system told me the amount of my bill and proceeded to ask me about my credit card. then informed me that I hadn’t told them the amount of my bill; after entering my credit card, I was told that it was declined. I hit 0 for an operator who informed me that the charge had gone through.

After spending hours on the phone with Sprint trying to get my mobile bill straightened out, I sent another email today telling them that the bill was still incorrect and that I was still waiting for the call back from the latest "supervisor". I received an email back telling me that they had checked my records and that I had received the phone call. Geez, where was I during the call? Oh and this exact scenario has been replayed at least 5 times.

So, I need not go on, right? I have heard the marketing people from Sprint speak at WOMMA Conferences. They sound like they get it. I assume there might be people in the marketing departments at Charter and Walgreens designing marketing programs and advertising. Maybe even talking about customer experience. Well, until the customer experience is positive at every touchpoint, your brand is toast.

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