Sometimes I’m utterly amazed at how some large businesses are unable to fix bad customer experiences. I’m sharing this story, not to browbeat my cell phone company, but to talk about the root problem.

Bad Customer Service Experiences & Customer Support

customer service checklistSo here’s the scenario: in connection with our business cell phone account, I ordered a MiFi, one of those devices you can carry around with you and connect to the internet. I was amazed when I pulled the device out of the box, followed a few simple steps, and was immediately connected to the Internet. Awesome.Then I went to connect again this morning, but no-go, the thing just wouldn’t cooperate with this whole notion of connecting to the Internet. Call tech support.Robert, the technician, was quite cheerful, and asked me for this number, and that number, then wanted my business account number. OK, listen, I’m on the road here, I don’t have that with me.  No problem, just yank the battery out of the MiFi, and a magic number would be there. Only the battery wouldn’t budge.  “Robert, I can’t get to that number, the battery is stuck.” He said, “I’m sorry Mr. Dragon, but we can’t help you without that number, someone might be trying to get us to make unauthorized changes to your account.”I admit, I wasn’t quite seeing the humor at that moment, and was getting mildly hot under the collar. And like most people reaching that point, I expressed my desire to speak with someone who wields a bit more power over there at the support center.

After 18 Minutes on the Phone with a Customer Service Representative…

So, then I spoke with Cheryl.  Cheryl pretty much repeated what Robert had said about devious people trying to do malicious things.  She assured me that it has happened, but that she would allow me to be helped.  Transfer back to Robert.

So, between each one of those transfers, I’m on hold, listening to the same looped voice recording, “because your life should be spent enjoying life, not trying to catch up. Rethink the impossible.”  If any lawmakers are reading this, I propose that making people listen to looping messages while on hold should be criminal.

Good Customer Service Makes the Impossible Possible

Finally, I got to Renee from the data center, and after about 20 minutes, she had me locate and push a little reset button hidden under the battery cover.  The clouds parted, angels sang, my connection to the internet resumed.

This corporation spends millions on their brand every year. They polish and protect their brand identity. The support crew is well trained – each time we concluded a discussion, they said nice things, and overall, they were likable people. But they couldn’t create a quick and easy customer service experience with this simple issue.

Total time on phone: 56 minutes.

Achieving Customer Service Excellence

Businesses must make a concerted effort to audit their customer support centers, and to create user scenarios – or what we called “Use Cases” in software development – and developed processes that are less painful to their customers. In this type of case, it would cost a small fraction of their overall marketing budget to do so. If the company really delighted customers, say, the way that they do at Zappos, then the customers would give back that marketing value many times over in the form of advocacy, word-of-mouth, and positive social mentions. Rethink the impossible!