A little venting… about a lot of opportunity

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One of the fun things about having a blog is that I get to vent. So if you don’t want to hear about my various customer service debacles, skip this blog or skip to the last couple paragraphs…

I’ve been wondering for the last few weeks why XM’s auto calling program continues to call my cell phone and leave crisis messages? Every day. For over three weeks. They left me seven messages while I was out of the country at the start of November because my auto credit card had expired. So I called them, even though I would much preferred not to talk to anyone, and the whole experience of giving them a new credit card number was quite painful. But here’s the kicker: Not only has the auto program continued to call me and leave messages, even after I called back a second time and was told I’m all clear in their system, they somehow managed to send me a new XM radio to my house. A thank you gift? Not exactly. Somehow, the representative got confused when I called to change my credit card and actually set up a whole new account and shipped me a new radio. When I called back, they told me they couldn’t even help me … that I had to call another number around new orders that wasn’t even open. They had “no access to that system”. I escalated through management and finally caved and went to go ship the silly radio back, at which point I found out from Mr. Mail Boxes etc. that he sees this kind of thing all the time … he’s helped send back over 20 phones in the last month that were “accidentally” shipped from Qwest. And, he emphasized, these companies often lose the orders and make people pay for phones who lose their tracking number.

Meanwhile, my COBRA provider continues to email me important notices that have to be downloaded and opened through some executable program… one that doesn’t happen to run on a Mac. So every time they send me one of these mystery messages, most of which are not really “important notices”, I have to call into their hotline and hear their apologizing about not supporting Macs. Really? Are Mac users so rare that we don’t need to be considered? C’mon.

And why does Chase think they can take online banking down for scheduled maintenance between 8 AM and noon on Sunday morning? Aren’t there ways these days to make changes to websites without taking them down for four hours… and if not, how about doing it in the middle of the night? Sunday morning seems like the very most logical time for people to be doing online banking.

Just today, I got a notice from a wine club offering a case of Cab Franc at a great price. While I do not really need another case of wine, the price, vineyard and grape were very compelling, so I clicked through to buy. I don’t remember using this website before, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve never ever ordered wine on the internet, but apparently my email address is associated with an account and I can’t buy anything until I get my password sent to me and log back in. It has been 7.5 hours since I requested my password and this sale is ending in 2.5 hours so I guess they are out several hundred dollars. It is probably for the best, but seriously? I can’t buy this wine without logging in with a user name?

It just kills me. There is so much opportunity for companies to use technology to improve customer experience, reduce their costs of interaction, improve their cash flow, sell new products, retain customers… but they are botching it! They think are implementing the latest customer tech fad, but they aren’t systematically considering the needs of their customers … or the limitations of their current technology. I guess this is why I have a job. ☺

Before I conclude, I’d like to call out one big exception, at least the only one in my life: AT&T. I have been so impressed with their customer service on many occasions, as well as their variety of options on interacting with them. Jim was just telling me that he had a similar situation to my XM debacle with one unpaid bill in years and they sent him a text that was (for him) the perfect prompt to go pay his bill. Dumb luck? Probably not. Someone in that company has actually thought all this through from a holistic customer perspective. And that makes me happy. Even though my phone drops calls!

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