Blame Data for Bad Customer Service

I recently phoned my mobile operator with a query. I spoke to five different people, all of whom made me  quote my customer account number, and repeat the details of my query, which I can now do in my sleep.. (That was AFTER I’d diligently keyed my account number into their call-handling system.).

A few months earlier, I saw the CEO of the very same company speak, with passion and conviction, about putting the customer first. Sadly my experience was completely at odds with his intent.

But this isn’t about his sincerity, or that of the other people in the organisation.  It’s about disparate systems, processes and databases, each of which is responsible for a different part of the customer relationship.

This can often feel like unco-ordinated mayhem..

In my experience, the organisation in question is actually in the majority. The reality (and it’s a difficult one) is that to be truly ‘customer centric’, you need a single database which feeds all processes. Whilst I would never underestimate how difficult it is to adopt this ideal, it’s worth trying to go as far on the journey as possible, because every step will reduce innefficeincy, improve the customer experience, and so help the bottom line. If you don’t adopt a customer-centric philosophy, processes and systems can proliferate to the point of collapse,

Some call this Customer Data Integration (CDI),  or Master Data Management (MGM). I call it Data Harmonisation, because it involves taking many different  different inputs and orchestraing them towards a single, co-ordinated ensemble.

The nearer you get to a single customer database, the more duplication you drive out, and the more value you add.

2 thoughts on “Blame Data for Bad Customer Service

  1. Mark, the same query about who you are and your customer number is the most annoying thing that these people effectively abuse us with.

    I always ask why and get the same answer – Data Protection! It is a lame excuse – what it demonstrates to me as a consumer is a complete lack of care for the customer and the nature of our enquiries. In effect what they are saying is this: We will hide under the banner of Data Protection to avoid investing in a one stop integration process as that will cost us a fortune in integrating all the call centres, many of which we do not own and are not willing to invest on our behalf to give our customers a better experience.

    Like all budget driven operations they miss the point completely. It is so simple it is beyond my comprehension as to why it is not done as standard.

    1 Integrate your data to allow you to see all your customer data across each and every customer facing department in order to keep your query time down, operator costs down and customer interaction down.

    2 Empower your customer service personnel to ‘serve’ your customer with up to date technological solutions – speeding up the process of
    Customer acquisition, customer retention and customer satisfaction thereby reducing churn and customer dissatisfaction. In turn this will heighten recommendation by customers virally commenting that ‘so and so’ have really go it right, they solved my issue in one 5 minute call.

    So easy yet so hard for CS people to grasp.

    • Hi Andrew, thanks for your well considered response.

      Yes – I’ve had the “Data Protection” excuse blurted out more than once. It is indeed the inability to take a coherent approach which renders lots of these companies woefully ineffective.

      I often think that some of the senior decision makers literally do not realise what it is like for the customer.

      It probably needs a different financial model, one that assesses the things you’ve mentioned (acquisition, retention , churn etc), in a realistic way, and then the doors might open for the right sort of investment (systems and processes).

      Often there are “sticking plasters”. I had a notable telecomms/broadband company respond to an angry tweet from me, on how useless their operation was. It was obvious in the ensuing days that the people watching twitter for negative sentiment simply didn’t communicate at all with their “ops” people. In a way, that’s almost worse than no reply.

      Thanks – Mark

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