Saturday, 15 May 2010
I’m trying hard not to say “I told you so” having just read that Google is abandoning its attempts to sell its Android ‘phone, the Nexus One, direct. I tried to purchase a Nexus One and gave up, stymied by bugs on the Google site (Google’s CheckOut payment acceptance system was down in the UK for days) and disgusted by the haughty, we-dont-want-to-talk-to-customers attitude of the company. I puchased an HTC Desire from my local ‘phone shop, they were helpful, answered my questions and the device is probably superior to Google’s.
The whole episode reinforces the image that Google is a bunch of great engineers, who don’t seem to get out much in the real world.
Thursday, 8 April 2010
Looks like we now know the reason why I (and I’m sure many other people in the UK) can’t buy a ‘phone from Google – their Google Checkout has crashed over the past few days.
If I were a merchant using Google Checkout I would not be a happy bunny.
Will Google steal the crown from infamous leaders Tiscali, Egg et all for the worst customer service?
Monday, 2 November 2009
Regular readers will know that I spend (far too much) time detailing the CRM and customer service failures of large organisations, so I was really impressed last weekend when I went to the UK Driver Licensing Authority’s site to see if I could change the address on my driving licence. I still have an old, green and pink piece of paper from 20 years ago and don’t have one of those new fangled photo id driver licences. I picked up the form from the Post Office, well, multiple forms as I needed the photo id as well, they looked so horrific they have been sitting in my in-tray for a year.
So I thought I’d just see if I could get away with applying for both on-line, with little serious hope that it would be possible. And it worked! What was really impressive that in order to get a valid photograph for the photo id the DVLA system contacted the Passport system and retrieved a validated photo from their site. I was proper impressed, some serious system design there, joined up government at its best.
Well done DVLA!
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
One of the (many) nice things about going on holiday is that it enables you to look back at the year, put things in perspective, take a longer view.
The trend that caught my eye over the past two months (no, I haven’t been on holiday that long, just haven’t blogged that long) is people blogging about poor customer service from big companies.
Now, this is a hobby horse of mine, I too blogged about the subject a few months ago, but it seems to be a common complaint amongst other bloggers as well. Phil Wainewright blogged about mobile broadband monopolist O2 and Vodafone, Paul Greenberg about United Airlines, Duane Jackson (although more positively) about BT & Virgin Broadband.
Now, I can see two trends here. One is bloggers using their blog to let off steam at their failing suppliers. I’m not sure that this is what blogs are for, but it seems to be happening. The other trend is either that large companies are getting worse at customer relations, or consumers are getting less tolerant. My feeling is that both are happening: large companies are getting larger and larger customer bases; and their customer service is being squeezed by price competition and the increased cost of labour.
As I mentioned on Phil Wainwright’s blog in reply to his post, I’m not sure what I would do to fix these problems if I was CEO of O2 or Vodafone: how can you deliver consistent service to hundreds of thousands of customers, each only paying a small monthly fee? As I struggled with the oxymoronical customer service departments of British Gas, Egg, and Sainsburies Bank over the last two months, I keep being told that “We have a lot of customers, you know” and “99.9% are happy”. Yes, but 99.9% don’t call and that stills leaves a thousand of so customers who aren’t. None of the large companies I have dealt with have that oft-touted “360 degree view of the customer”; there’s no way their telesales team will read your email of yesterday before hassling you, they have their process and can’t cope with anybody who steps outside it.
Maybe that’s what I’d do if was CEO of a large company: put in a decent CRM system that customer service personnel would read before making a call. Can it be that hard?
Thursday, 2 April 2009
I am increasingly drawn to the contrast between the messages I receive in the CRM press and blogosphere (“Achieve Dramatic Customer Satisfaction!”, “10 Tips for happy customers!”, “Social CRM 2.0 is here!” et al) and the day to day reality of being a consumer and dealing with large companies. I don’t think blogs are really the place for slagging off bad service, I think sites like ciao do that pretty well, so I won’t bore you with the tedious stories of trying to get anybody with half a brain in Egg (a credit card company) or Tiscali (an Internet service provider) to actually read and reply to an email rather than just send back a cut and pasted reply that completely ignores the real question that I’m asking. So, having vented my fury in customer review sites I then think, well, what large companies can I actually recommend that has great (good, even) customer service, to show balance? And the answer is – I can’t think of any at all. We probably know the reasons for this. The products they offer are commodities, the suppliers have cut their costs by so much that there are very few humans left working for them, and they have come to the conclusion that it is cheaper to suffer customer attrition than pay for good customer service. Certainly you can see this in the banks, the job title “bank manager” just doesn’t exist, and they are all just as bad as the other, both retail and commercial.
Yet every time I talk to a small company I great customer service.
I’ve used the last week to try and find out how the two companies above actually run their CRM systems. What became apparent very quickly is that, for all the CRM industry’s mantra of “360 degree view of the customer”, these companies have different people in different silos that aren’t being asked to have an informed dialogue with the customer, the call centre operators just have a list of people to call and a question to ask them. Sometimes they can access the details of previous telephone calls and emails, but only when you ask them to, after they sign in to a different screen. These details are not being brought up on the call centre screen as the predictive dialler allocates the call through to them, the operators are just told who is on the line and what they have to say. Battery chickens are better informed.
So while the CRM industry is blathering on about how wonderful our products are and how they make customers happy, the reality is that in the call centres of large companies none of this is being implemented, despite being around for ten years or more. Presumably because all that 360 degree stuff would take far too long for a humble operator to read and digest.
Maybe all those Enterprise CRM vendors should change their messaging to “Implement ten year old technology today!”, or “Deliver only the minimum amount of data to your operators!”.