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When customer service goes from bad to worse

David Taber | June 28, 2013
The root causes of the worst customer service and support problems usually stem from bad decisions and sloppy actions in upstream departments. These poor choices make it all too easy for otherwise-innocent service reps to make a bad situation worse

The second field tech visit occurs on schedule, but this time it's a contractor. He doesn't have the correct address, the correct hardware or the authorization to pull the cable in conduit. In other words, all previous order corrections and site visits were ineffective. After several phone calls, enough expedites and escalations are done so the contractor's allowed to perform the work on the original order.

Root Causes: Incomplete integration of operations and field-tech outsourcing systems.

Net result: About an hour of various service reps' time burned.

Service Activation: What's This Shovelware?
After hardware install, the service requires software setup. The customer must set up a user account and go through some service portal wizards. One step says, "You need to install this package on your PC," but it fails to show what the package contents are, indicate what alternatives are available or provide a link to uninstall instructions. Customer's machine gets several unanticipated-and mainly frivolous-changes.

Root Causes: Marketing and support are cute with "added value" but pay little heed to desires of power users.

Net result: More calls to customer support to remove shovelware.

The Bottom Line: Bad Systems Waste Everyone's Time

This customer order was a promotional special, so it presumably offered less profit than normal service. But the cost to the cable company was more than that, as this single order wasted six hours of service rep time, as well as one service visit that was little more than a "truck roll." All because of false economies in integration, business process work and usability testing.

The indirect cost on top of it all was one irate customer. The onboarding processes contained so many break points that customer diligence, not company follow-through, was the only way to actually complete the order. Wasting customer's time might be acceptable for a bleeding-edge product, but it's absurd for support of a commodity service such as basic residential cable with ISP access.


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