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Posts Tagged ‘Customer’

to make it as easy and pleasant for the folks.

KRBlog A T and T Transaction

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Standing Ovation.jpg

Via: Skip Prichard’s (a coach, a trainer, a consultant…) blog here. Text in italics is added.

 

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If you stay with me for a minute or two, you’ll know this is not the usual rant of an irate customer. Rather it’s an outside-in perspective of an interaction with your organization from some one who has been in the service industry for 30+ years. I’ve also taken the liberty of including some possible actionables (in italics).

Residing in Mumbai, I am an owner of Panasonic split A/C unit for a little less than a year now, recommended by the dealer. Happy to say it has been a trouble-free experience.

panasaonic

During this time I’ve had three interactions with the your company personnel (or those from your authorized service-center): during a no-fuss installation, the first service call within a month of installation (My friend, this call could have been avoided if they had shown me during installation when and how to clean the filters) and the third – the subject of this post – was a no-charge in-warranty preventive maintenance call offered by you.

As instructed, I called up the 800 help-line and registered a ticket. This was again hassle-free: a) every time, I was able to reach with the first try itself – may be you had equipped it with enough lines or there weren’t too many complaints flowing in:-) and b) unlike most interactive voice response systems that drive one crazy with a zillion buttons to be punched I was able to reach the person immediately after language selection. A great start to a user experience – all credit to you for a smooth process.

The youngster at the other end right away recognized the caller and was courteous in registering my request. I was told a technician would get in touch with me in 24 hours.

2-3 days passed, there was no call. I called up the help-line again to inquire. He – this was another guy, but mercifully there was no loss of continuity – assured me he was sending reminders to the service-center.

A few more days passed before I made another call. I was informed a fresh ticket was being generated now. The earlier one showed its status as closed for lack of complete information! I did not pursue with my line of sure-to-be-infructuous inquiry on what information was lacking and if so why did they not call me up to find out,

The next few days saw one more iteration of my calling up and being assured of reminders being sent. This time I expressed my wish to escalate the matter to someone senior in your organization – these friendly reminders were obviously not jogging memories in the field. The youngster was obviously not equipped to handle a request for escalation – my friend, please note. He repeated himself on those reminders and the 24-hour-call-back. When I pushed him, the poor fellow tried to be helpful by giving me the contact numbers of the local service-center for me to check directly.

So over the next few days my calls went to the local service-center. In the first call a senior lady at the other end sounded like being upset over my intrusion into the comfort of her daily routine. I dreaded at the prospect of running into her in every one of my subsequent calls. My friend, could you please ensure these customer-facing people are basically service minded (We all know not every one is) and trained for the job? Luckily for me it was not to be.

VOIP-Desk-Phone

And every time I was assured by the call-dispatcher I spoke to: the technician in the field has been informed and he would contact me. Apparently checking at the end of the day whether the technician had attended to the request or it was still pending for the following day was not part of the dispatcher’s job. She would know the job wasn’t done yet only when I followed up with her next day.  My friend, do they have systems in place to assist them in dispatching calls and track pending ones?

Coming back to my story, by now, I was in a fit enough to climb a tree. Before going to town with my story, I decided to give it one last resort try. I went to the dealer who sold me your product. To him, I painted your service-center in the blackest of inks suspecting sinister designs in those missed deadlines. He called them up and gave them a piece of his mind. A comic relief: in the same call the lady at the other end wanted to know my address from me. Why would she need it? She already had it as part of the registered ticket. Some address verification process in play? Well, it turned out quite unexpectedly: she did not have it with her presently to give the technician as her system was down!

The dealer’s call did what I couldn’t over the last week or two. Two lads turned up within a couple of hours taking address and directions from me after finding the dispatcher’s information to be incorrect.

I asked them if the management has changed hands at the service-center – why was my third interaction so difficult for me when it was not so on earlier occasions? I was told there was a severe shortage of field staff, this being summer vacation, hence the delays in attending to customers. In fact this duo was pulled from a different geography to attend my request. I promptly thanked them and the dispatcher in my mind for the initiative and explained: My request was for preventive maintenance – it was not a breakdown call requiring urgent attention. I was willing to wait for their service. If I were given a date and time even five days later, it would have been okay. My nervousness and the overreaction perhaps emanated from the steady stream of promises made and not kept. Was I being forgotten or worse, ignored for a reason unknown to me? My friend, please train the staff to ascertain the urgency for service and negotiate acceptable response times thereby relieving the pressure on the field resources. And most importantly to make good promises made and follow up until the request is closed. You’ll find many customers quite reasonable with their demands if the cards are put on the table.

Once they finished their job, I waited for them to write out a service/call report for me to sign off. Their response made me realize how much out-of-step I was with the times: ‘Service Report? What Service Report? We go back and close the ticket, that’s it.’ Brilliant!. An utterly wasteful step cut out! We all know no one at the service-centers or even with the manufacturers ever reads these reports.

Well, I’m sure many similar stories go around all the time especially concerning white-goods. What I hear is: Most equipment manufacturers outsource field support to third-party service-centers. And there is not enough money on the table for these guys to be motivated to operate efficiently and render good quality services. The manufacturers know it and are hesitant to push these guys hard lest they lose them altogether (significant turnover of these third-parties is very common). Rarely their systems, processes and people are tested, for example, with dummy customers. My friend, I don’t know how it is with you. It may be worth your while to take a hard look and make the business viable for these service -centers.   

To draw the curtains down on this story, all concerned know the A/C unit is close to end of warranty. No one is lining up at my door for the annual service contract. Not much in it for any of them, my friend?

Thank you for hearing me out patiently Panasonic. And pardon me if you consider it impudent of me to make those suggestions.

Yes, I forgot to mention: I sent a ‘Thank You’ message to the dispatcher after the technicians’ visit.

 

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Credits: image from openclipart.com ()

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neocreo_Round_Table_Discussion

BLAMESTORMING

[verb]

Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who could be (made) responsible for the same. If it is not ‘an unfortunate combination of factors’ someone not part of the discussion (example: the customer) is usually a preferred candidate.

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Credits: arcamax.com, openclipart (neocreo_Round_Table_Discussion, discussion bitterjug)

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Mosquito rewarriner
Customer Service and rightly so has been and continues to be the mantra for organizations. ‘Customer’ for most implies an individual (or an entity) buying products or services and paying for them. What about those ‘pests’ who demand a lot of attention, but never ‘pay’ for what they get? I mean the poor internal customers.

At many places, it is not strongly perceived serving internal customers is a prerequisite for efficiency in their jobs and hence profitable for the organization.

Let me cut the chase and get to an incident shining light on an important aspect of serving internal customers.

This was a periodic review of operations of an organization’s Information Infrastructure Department (IID) providing computing equipment and services to its internal users of an organization. IID had ready data to show its performance with regard to service tickets was well in excess of the promise held out in the SLA’s for internal customers. As it usually happens the internal customers on the other hand did not appear to be a particularly delighted lot. There were no satisfaction surveys in place to get a user perspective on services rendered.

Help_Desk gsagri04
The review did not focus on this aspect as there were other pressing matters…until a project manager brought up his problem.

The project was executed ‘offshore’ for a downtown client. It required the team to log onto client’s system and application to do the job. And the problem was the remote access was not working consistently. The frequent dropping of the VPN connection was hampering team’s productivity and annoying the customer.

The team promptly logged the problem into the Service Tickets System. The IID too promptly attended to these tickets – they tested out, found the link okay and closed the tickets. Their conclusion being ‘no problem with our links, you please check with your customer.’ The naïve project manager took it up only to be pushed back by the customer claiming all was well at his end.

This has been happening for some time. The routine reviews were time-limited and summary based and did not uncover the problem since the tickets were all closed. Finally the project manager could take no more. In sheer exasperation, he brought it up for help.

In the review IID maintained its stand there was no problem at this end.

It took quite an effort to impress on IID the problem needs to be resolved end-to-end for the project manager to execute his project smoothly and there were no other stops on the way.

In such cases it is usually best for IID guy at this end to talk to his counterpart in the customer’s organization and jointly fix the problem. He cannot leave the matter to the poor project manager to resolve.

In this incident however, the problem was resolved finally without involving the customer – it was traced to excessive use of bandwidth during certain times of the day causing the drop outs.

Closing the ticket is not the same as solving the problem.

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Credits: openclipart (gsagri04 and rewarriner).

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This cute story of unintended consequences of technology comes from Les Mckeown, a good read for those managers who think all the wisdom lies under one hat. And, also how customers could be engaged advantageously.

“…

In the early 1990s, my business partner and I owned a chain of Pizza Hut restaurants in Ireland.

Reckoning ourselves to be great innovators, we spent around $50,000 (to us, an enormous sum at the time) on state-of-the-art “ordering units.” These were, essentially, wireless hand-helds that enabled our waitstaff to take orders at the table and send them instantaneously back to the kitchen, where tickets would be printed out telling our cooks what pizzas to make.

These gizmos, bleeding edge as they were at the time, worked flawlessly. Too flawlessly, in fact.

The orders got to the kitchen so fast that if a customer changed the order even seconds after it had been transmitted, the originally ordered pizza would already be under construction back in the kitchen. Even though changed orders represented a small percentage of total income, our losses due to food waste went through the roof.

The kitchen staff was dumping unwanted thin-crust pepperonis to make, say, stuffed-crust ham and mushroom–and in a business run by margin control, this was a cost we simply couldn’t afford.

Trial, Error, and the Unexpected Solution

For weeks, we (the management) tried everything we could to stanch this mistake. First, we had the kitchen staff wait five minutes before starting a new order, but it just caused chaos, as cooks squinted at tickets to see the timestamp and then did the mental arithmetic for when to start making them. So then, we tried telling the customers to be “sure” about their orders. That worked for about five minutes. Then, we asked the waitstaff to delay sending in the order, but that didn’t work, because the technology wouldn’t process multiple orders at one time.

Eventually, in frustration, we called the staff together at our flagship restaurant to tell them we were going to junk the technology and go back to the old way of taking orders–handwritten slips that made their way back to the kitchen at a more sedate pace and which allowed for more flexibility with customer changes. Adopting the technology was a mistake.

But just as the meeting was coming to an end, one of our waitstaff piped up from the back of the room.

“Have them hit send,” she said.

Huh?

“Give the hand-held to the customer, and let them hit Send after they’ve placed their order,” she explained.

Brilliant! And that’s what we did.

We turned the order-submission process into a little bit of restaurant theater, complete with explanations that their order would “begin baking the moment they hit the button!” The customers loved it, and they got the subliminal message–once you hit Send, there’s no going back.

And although it didn’t eradicate 100% of the order-change issue, our food-waste cost dropped to a manageable level.

And I learned two things that I have stayed true to ever since:

1. When you have a problem, don’t expect the so-called smart guys in the C suite to fix it.
Talk immediately with the employees who most have to deal with the problem every day.

2. If you can make it fun, customers will put up with a lot.
Think of the extremely long wait lines at Disney rides.

…”

End

Via inc.com

Les McKeown is the author of the best-seller, Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track – and Keeping It There and is the CEO of Predictable Success, a leading advisor on accelerated organizational growth. His latest book is The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success.

Credit: openclipart.com (warszawianka)

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