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The Customer Experience Conundrum, Part Two

Second in a short series of blog posts on this topic

This is the second in a short series of posts about the customer’s perspective. I believe that companies that do not put themselves in their client’s shoes, are failures.

This has been a recurring experience for me lately. Companies, like people, speak volumes about their values through their actions. When they act like they don’t care what their customers are experiencing, it means that they actually don’t care about their customers. Which to me is weird, because without happy customers, the business probably cannot continue to exist and make money, and therefore cannot pay its employees. I think that being nice to customers and keeping them happy should be as important as profits.

Companies often measure how well they do things. They have systems to inform them about the work that needs to be done, the speed and accuracy of their work processes, the customers’ needs, and the payments pending and paid. They survey their customers to ask them about their service, but then they cannot reconcile the feedback from the customers with the processes that they measure and keep track of in their systems.

Case example: I received a letter from a car company indicating that my car had a pending recall that needed to be corrected. I called my local service centre to schedule and an appointment and told them the recall code and name, along with my name, address, phone number, and the VIN number of my car. The service manager told me that they did not have that recall showing against my car in their system, and that they therefore would not do the work. He then proceeded to try to get me off the phone. (Was I really supposed to just go away at that point? Problem solved?)

So when I said the letter came from their head office, and the service manager kept repeating that it was not in his system, I said, "Okay, here’s what I am experiencing: I have a letter coming from a system that I cannot see, and you have a system which I cannot see. So there is obviously a discrepancy, and we need your system to communicate with head office; can you do that?"

"No," the service manager tells me, "I don’t know anyone there." So we get off the phone. (Does he really think that the problem is solved then?)

I contact the head office that originally sent me the recall notice. Long story short, the recall gets worked on and solved at the service centre quite easily. Then I am sent an automated survey about my customer experience, and I fill it in honestly. A day later I receive a call from the service manager to ask me why I did not give them a higher customer service score. Instead of repeating my story again, I asked him what he knew about my transaction. He said he could see in his various systems the survey results, and he could see that I had an appointment where a recall was accomplished on my vehicle. And I asked him, "Do you have anything in those systems of yours that would record anything to inform you about my experience?" He said no. So I told him my story, and he apologized, and said if I needed anything I could contact him.

But I don’t need his apology, and I don’t need any other services managed now. I need that company to communicate behind the scenes so that head quarters, recall management, service, and my enjoyment of driving the car can all represent the brand to me. I don’t think that company is interested in my perspective. And I don’t think they are measuring my happiness with them as much as they are measuring how efficient they are in their processes, their expenses and their revenues.

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