Showing posts with label Customer Experience Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Customer Experience Management. Show all posts

August 2, 2020

Overpriced Desk Chairs





I went on this website for some deck chairs.

They had this nothing of a chair called the Harborside for almost $500. I was looking for 2 chairs, so that would've been a whooping $1,000 almost.


After a while on their web page, a chat box came up asking if I needed any help. 

It was funny because the guys name was Jake, as in the commercial, "Hi, this is Jake from State Farm!"

Anyway, I must've been annoyed at their ridiculous prices and I had this farce of a dialogue with Jake. 

Jake: Hello, We see you are checking out.  Can we help in any way?

Me: trying to download a 25% off coupon...can you assist?

Jake: We don't have any coupons or discount codes. 

Me: Just overpriced then.  {smiley}

Me: Why do you charge so much for such cheap merchandise?

Jake: It's grade A teak which is the highest quality grade you buy but go on.

Me: It's a tree! Why should I pay $1000 for 2 small desk chairs.  There is plenty of tweak in the forest for free!

Me:  Can you explain?

Jake: *Teak. You're more than welcome to grow your own forest and make these but you'll have to move to a warmer climate. You can educate yourself better with our guide here [and he attached a link]. 

Me: Hmmm. Would you pay $1000 for thee little wooden chairs. 

Me: Also, I'm pretty educated.  TY

Jake: Yes, I have 4 on [my grandmother's porch]

Me: You didn't pay $2000 for 4 chairs for your grandmother's porch.  NO WAY!  I bet you got a big employee discount. 

At which point, the chat box quickly bleeped off the screen!

Jake from State Farm...you didn't really buy 4 chairs for your grandmother for $2000 did you???  ;-)

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 2, 2020

The Truth Hurts

So I purchase some nutrition bars from a prominent online store. 

If you click on 2 boxes (12 bars each), they charge you $30. 

But if you look over a little on the website page, they have 24 bars for $24. 

I contact customer service and start chatting with them about this. 

Basically, I wanted the difference refunded to me. 

Surely, not a lot of money, but more the principle of it. 

They are charging 2 different amounts for the very same thing! 

The lady on the other end of the chat asks me to forward her the link for the product. 

I comply. 

She says, "You see that link is 2 boxes for $30!"

I say, "No, that's just the primary link to the product, and it has 2 different prices for basically the exact same thing."

She says, "On that link you sent it has 12 bars x 2, which is different than ordering 24 bars!"

I'm thinking, Oh really!  What math class did she take in elementary school???

And then for good measure, she adds socking one to me:
"Truth Always Hurts!"

At this point, I couldn't believe my chat "ears".  

Aside from her "truth" not being "the truth" in any universe...

I was in shock and said something like "How dare you.  You are incredibly rude.  Put your supervisor on."

She says: "Well, my supervisor will tell you the same thing!"

I repeated once more: "Please let me speak to a supervisor."

Finally when I got the supervisor, who was a more normal, reasonable person, and also could do simple arithmetic, she immediately apologizes issuing me a refund. 

She asked if there was anything else she could assist with.

I asked, to confirm again, "Are you a supervisor?"

She responded affirmatively. 

I asked her to review the chat with the prior customer service rep and asked, "Is this how you want your company represented to your customers?"

Needless to say, she was flabbergasted by what she saw from their outsourced "customer service" representative.

She assured me she was flagging the chat for review by management and that this outrageous behavior from this company representative would be addressed. 

To me, it is amazing that our companies not only outsource the manufacture of our vital goods, but they also outsource customer service to people that barely seem to speak the language, can't do basic math, and have zero customer service skills. 

This does not bode well for American competitiveness--in the age of Coronavirus or at any other time. 

I believe that this truth hurts much more than any company's horrendous customer service. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 17, 2020

Airplane Art

Why aren't airplanes really decorated like this?

It would be so much more fun to get on a plane that displayed some pizzaz!

All we hear about are plane delays, cancelled flights, mishandled baggage, and involuntary bumping.

Oh, and don't forget the ever more cramped seating and the entertainment system that is habitually broken.

How does this industry get away with all this crap? ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 29, 2018

Say YES!

Really liked this sign on my colleague's desk.

It says:
Start With Yes

I remember an old boss who used to say:
Don't make me get through no to get to yes. 

The idea as another colleague put it is to:
Keep a smile on your face and your focus on the customer; everything else takes care of itself. 

Basically, it's all our jobs to make sure that the customer's needs are being met. 

That doesn't mean that we don't need to differentiate between requirements and desirements or that we need to deliver the yacht in the first go around.

As a 4th colleague put it:
The customer is in the water. They want the yacht. But I can give them a boat. It gets them to where they want to go, and they no longer need to swim. We can work our way up to a yacht.

Good analogy analogy and good things to keep in mind for customer service excellence! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 19, 2017

Customer Service NO-NOs

So if you're in customer service...

The answer is easy. 

It's always got to be YES. 

- Any less is a big No-No!

The customer's needs are paramount.

Their satisfaction is your goal. 

So your job is to figure out how to get from no to yes!

You've got to problem-solve and figure it out. 

And it's not enough to come up with any old solution.

When I said to my colleagues the other day:
"There's a solution to every problem."

Someone joked and answered back:
"It's just that the customer may not like it."

And I responded:
"Well then that's not the solution you are looking for!"

You've got to go back to the drawing board and get to a legitimate yes. 

Of course, it can difficult, especially when at times you deal with some challenging customers and problems.

But listen, this is the customer service field and in the end, the customer experience should be WOW fantastic!

It's the customer that is depending on you to come through for them and their mission. 

Doing your job isn't just a matter of reading off of some cue card or playbook. 

This is real life with real consequences. 

If you can deliver, the customer will be able to do their jobs, and they may even sing your wildest praises--wouldn't that be rewarding? 

Customer service means getting to YES from the earliest possible moment in the interaction, meaning it, and legitimately delivering on it--no other questions asked.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 1, 2017

2017 Year Of The Customer

So here's a resolution for all of us for 2017...

How about this year be the year of the customer!

- Where we care more about doing a good job for someone than we do about what time we get off from work.

- Where we talk to and treat customers with respect, dignity, and ultimately to solve their needs, rather than it escalating to a yelling match and oh, did I accidentally hang up the phone on you?

- Where we make the customer feel good about dealing with us and our organization, rather than wanting to beg for a supervisor or cyanide please!

- Where the customer isn't lied to, manipulated, and taken advantage of just so someone can make another quick buck!

- Where the quality and value is #1 and it's not just a shinny veneer on a car that accelerates on it's own and with fake emissions test results or smartphone batteries that light up on fire and explode

- Where we don't cross-sell and up-sell customers, like phony bank accounts or other things they don't want, need, and never asked for just to make our sales quotas, and accrue the fine bonuses and stock options that go with them. 

- Where we don't oversell the capability of a product, like fraudulent blood testing devices and medical results, and instead deliver what's really doable and as promised. 

- Where there's no error in the charge to the customer or it's in the customer's favor, rather than always an overcharge in the seller's favor, and the price from the beginning is fair and reasonable and not hiked up 400% like on critical medicine that people's lives depend on. 

- Where items arrive on time and work the first time, rather than having delays, making excuses, and causing endless customer returns of defective items or those that didn't fit, look, or work as advertised. 

- Where the customer is happy to come back to and where they feel trust in the people, products, and services offered--not another Home Shopping Network or QVC shoddy experience of "It slices, it dices...the only tears you'll shed are tears of joy!"

- Where we solve genuine customer needs or problems and not just "build it and they will come."

- Where rather than a pure what's in it for me (WIIFM) mentality, we suspend our self-interest and greed for the moment and we do for others, because it's not just a job and we actually have a work ethic and care about what we do. 

- Where we delight! and wow!, rather than disengage and disappoint, and we put the customer first, and like first responders, we run to help and not run away. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 17, 2011

Fitting Every Consumer A VIP

Check out this new augmented reality virtual fitting room technology called Virtual Interactive Podium (VIPodium) by Russian Company, Fitting Reality.

Using Kinect, motion-sensing technology, you use simple gestures to:

- Select, mix and match, and try on clothes in 3-D.
- Twirl around and see yourself in 360-degrees
- Take pictures, email them or share them on Facebook
- Get outfit information including sizing, and
- Place clothing in wish lists for future consideration or into the online shopping cart for purchase

Here is another video of a very cool implementation of this technology at the men and women's TopShop store in Moscow.

The people are visibly engaged and excited shopping and trying on clothes using the latest here for "tech-savy fashionistas."

Honestly though, I see this more as an augmentation to the physical fitting rooms, in terms of helping select clothes, rather than a replacement, since really seeing how something fits, means actually putting the outfit on.

VIPodium beats simply holding up an new outfit to yourself and looking in the mirror, but it doesn't come close to seeing how it really feels when it's when you put it on.

However, add in the interactive social media features, available information, and ability to shop online and I think you got something that makes every consumer feel like a VIP.

Happy shopping!

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March 27, 2009

Save A Penny, Lose a Customer

It’s amazing to me that organizations and people still miss the basic premise that underlies any successful business and that is good customer service.

Indeed all the innovation and technology in the world will not make up for the common business sense in putting the customer first.

Whatever happened to the customer is always right?

One of the most frustrating customer experiences is often associated with how companies routinely mishandle customer calls. We all know the shtick all too well by now:

  • The phone rings off the hook in the customer call center—why isn’t anyone answering?
  • If the phone is answered, very likely, the call is handled by automated call telephony—and you end up in a maze of instructions and options from which quite frankly, you may never return.
  • If you are so fortunate as to actually get to a real-live customer service representative, they won’t identify themselves—except with a first name--or provide a direct contact number to reach them should you get disconnected or need to follow up with them.
  • If you can identify who you are actually dealing with, you may quickly realize that you are talking to someone who is likely resident in another hemisphere and you may be unable to understand or effectively communicate with the company representative on the other end of the line (whose primary language is not your own).
  • If you are able to actually communicate with each other—what did you say?—you are likely to hear all sorts of gobbley-gook policies and excuses for why they can’t resolve your service request, need or complaint.
  • If you argue, raise your voice in frustration or ask to speak to a supervisor, you are likely to get “accidently” disconnected and you go back to go and cannot collect $200.
  • If you manage to get to a supervisor, the supervisor may throw you a bone and give you a partial win or more likely will stand firm and tell you to “talk to the hand, cause the face ain’t home.”
  • If you threaten to take your business elsewhere, you will have to place a call to another customer call center and start from step one all over again.

This is NOT a customer-centric enterprise architecture for an organization—it is almost the furthest thing from it aside from going out and actually paying customers to go use a competitor’s products or services instead of their own. This customer service-NOT approach is the death of our national competitiveness and represents the end of life for an organization and any individual employing it.

The Wall Street Journal, 24 March 2009, has a review on a book titled “Your Call Is (not that) Important to Us” by Emily Yellin who hits this right on the head.

“It is one of the most maddening ordeals of modern life. You are having problems with a product or service, and so (fool that you are) you call a customer help number, only to be greeted by a cheerfully inept or robotically indifferent voice at the end of the line.”

So why do organizations behave in this self-defeating, anti-customer fashion?

It’s called pinching pennies. Or penny wise and dollar foolish.

“Companies naturally try to keep costs down, sometimes rating the performance of their harried call-center workers by the number of calls they log, not by how well they resolve callers’ complaints…or companies move their help desks to countries where costs are low but accents are impenetrable. Or they switch to computer systems that leave already unhappy customer shouting their responses at an unresponsive machine.”

This is emblematic of the short-term focus on quarterly profits and share price at the expense of the customer satisfaction, service, and long term retention goals. The result: piss-poor customer service!

That’s why as enterprise architects, we need to ALWAYS start, end and follow every point in between with the customer needs. So in terms of EA what can we do to improve service delivery?

  • Focus on organizational performance goals and put customer satisfaction and retention at the top of those goals.
  • Align technology solutions and investments to deliver on the customer experience.
  • Don’t automate the customer out of the equation by removing genuine listening, empathy, and problem resolution.
  • Add a human-capital perspective to enterprise architecture frameworks to focus on best practices, targets, and transition plans to manage both the humans that work in the organization and to satisfy the human beings who are our customers. Human-to-Human interface!

Generally speaking, technology is known as an enabler for efficiency and effectiveness. Let it be first and foremost a means to better customer experiences. That is what is going to keep them coming back for more or heading to the exits.


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April 30, 2008

Customer Experience Management and Enterprise Architecture

Customer service is so important. We need to architect it in every fiber of the organization. Good customer service is a critical differentiator for organizations and it offers a strategic competitive advantage to those enterprises that embrace it and make it central to their product offering.

DM Review, 25 April 2008, reports that “companies are under unprecedented pressure to optimize the customer experience.”

Customer Experience Management (CEM) is emerging as an increasingly important tool. CEM is the practice of actively listening to customers, analyzing what they are saying to make better business decisions and measuring the impact of those decisions to drive organizational performance and loyalty.”

CEM information should be considered an essential component of the business perspective of the enterprise architecture. CEM should be incorporated into EA planning and governance to accelerate and improve enterprise decision making such as “tailoring products to customer desires to save investment in unwanted innovations.” The overall goal is to provide the customer with world-class service and an overall high satisfaction interaction.

How are organizations achieving CEM?

  1. Chief Customer Officer (CCO)—establishing executive positions that are focused on the customer experience and on earning high marks for customer satisfaction.
  2. Measurement—“putting tools in place that measure the customer experience” and provide feedback to the organization. These tools include customer satisfactions surveys, focus groups, blogs, point-of-sale data/trends, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems that “hold valuable comments from emails, support cases, and online conversations between contact centers and customers.”
  3. Process improvement—using customer feedback and measurement to tune processes, streamline them, and eliminate defects.

Unfortunately, “still at many companies today, the potential of CEM remains untapped.” It behooves the enterprise architects to help drive CEM as a major source of business intelligence and for use in enterprise architecture planning and governance for new investments.

Ultimately, just like the EA end-user is the final arbiter for driving the development of the EA information products (so they are useful and usable), so too the customer is king when it comes to influencing the organizations’ future direction for product, process, technology, and service. If we’re not satisfying our customers, they will find a better supplier to give their business to.


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