To add to last week’s post, Customer Service Failures Due to Poor Information Management, one challenge I didn’t name specifically is how fragmented customer service has become. This fragmented service also leads to poor results, confusion, and a lot of wasted time and effort. It’s quite common for companies to offer a variety of methods to get in touch. This includes chat services, email, phone, writing letters, and various social media applications like Twitter and Facebook. However, on the backend it’s likely that separate teams are managing all the feedback differently. This leads to information sprawl, ultimately resulting in poor experiences and lengthy resolutions.
Here’s another epic customer service failure I experienced precisely because of this reason. Something malfunctioned in my fridge causing it to make a loud, grinding noise. Luckily the warranty was still valid. The first time I called for service. A technician came to assess the problem. He determined I needed a new part. He gave me a ticket number and instructed me to call back to have the part ordered. I paid nothing for the visit.
For the follow up, I decided to try the online chat service instead of calling. This way I could avoid the long waits and irritating hold music. Here’s where the service derailed. Somehow the chat service couldn’t access my file. Instead of ordering the part, they sent a second technician to assess the fridge, from a different company. The second technician gave me the same instructions as the first time. I paid for this visit, expecting to be reimbursed.
Finally, the repair technician came. I paid for this visit, too. With the problem resolved, I submitted the receipts for reimbursement. The company paid for the repair technician, but not the second assessment because I’d already had one. After many frustrating calls and emails, I finally reached the manager. Basically he told me I shouldn’t have had to call for anything except the first assessment.
In hindsight, I realized part of the problem was switching from calling to chatting midway through the process. Though this shouldn’t have made a difference. The other problem was their miserable backend processes and poor system integration.
From my perspective, one possible solution is to centralize the systems and assign customers a unique identifier, e.g., an account number or case number. This makes it possible to search for the disparate pieces of information across the sprawl.