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If I had a cent for every time I had to use the above phrase when I called a customer call centre/helpdesk regarding a telephone, energy, technology or insurance matter, I’d be pulling Australia out of a recession. It seems for many companies the concept of customer experience is non-existent. For example, I called a technology company regarding a faulty item of computer hardware, and have been chasing them up regarding my case for over five days, calling every day. During my last phone call, I was given the sentence “Yes, your case has been forwarded to our engineer, but he’s unfortunately not in yet. Can you call back?” Not so great customer experience I say.
As a UCD practitioner, I would love to initiate a customer evaluation project, where I would write some scenarios (my own real-life experience) and recruit some users to test the journey they would go through when dealing with call centres/helpdesk. As for my user demographic, I would make sure they are all… CEO’s and presidents of energy, insurance, technology and telecommunication companies. And I would ensure they get the full experience, as I always do, so they can see firsthand the flaws and errors in their business processes and services.
Too often, it seems companies spend large amounts of their money ‘improving’ (take note of the quotation marks) their so called customer service. However, I’ve learnt that this improvement is really about changing the voice of the telephone menus to sound like a caring female who wants to be your friend, or improving the templates of their monthly statements so it’s easier for us to read. However, what it seems these companies often fail to do is to step back and really assess the journeys of their customers when they have difficulties. Too often, it seems the problems we customers have are actually to do with different business areas of these large companies, using different systems which, along with the people, don’t talk to each other, so you’re forced to chase your tail and bounce from department to department relaying information which could have been passed on internally.
Recently, my colleague Ricardo has been performing some research on using diary studies (or cultural probes). This technique helps us to understand users’ experiences when the process or system needing to be analysed is difficult to access or the user’s journey is spread over a number of days or weeks (e.g. chasing up a helpdesk over a month period regarding a faulty hardware!).
Perhaps, one way to help these companies really improve their customer experience is for us, customers, to take notes or a diary of our experience from the start to finish and forward it on to these companies. We could also mention to them that if they are not interested in this feedback, we’d be happy to publish them on blogs and forums, and even forward them onto the appropriate ombudsmen. I’m sure this would help get some real customer service.