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A Typical Day - Why Technology is Worsening Both Customer Service and Customer Experience

In my short article entitled Has technology improved the customer experience in most companies? I put forth a number of reasons why technology is making customer service and customer experience worse. Here's a typical 24 hour day - my day, in fact. Just the highlights.

This is the AVERAGE DAY, mind you. There are also catastrophic days, but there is almost NEVER a day that isn't like the typical day.

Evening: Monday: Tired. Time to relax. I subscribe to Major League Baseball on my ITouch and they offer a free game each day in video. Cool. Love my baseball. Click to start in the app. Looks good. It is verifying my location for copyright info. Oh NOOOOO. There's no GPS on the Touch (thank you Apple, you'll never see a cent from me). It should use the IP. It used to. Wait. It doesn't. It won't give me the free game, because IT can't tell where I am. Oh well.

How about listening to an audio book. I stream from my desktop to my Touch because Apple software (Itunes) hangs, interrupts my multi-tasking and their proprietary system is a pain. It's a third party app I purchased. Okay, Close eyes, lie in bed. Book starts. After 15 secs. book stops. Get up. Reboot computer, restart server. Rinse, repeat. Somehow I'm not relaxing and who do I contact to get this fixed? HAH.

Soldiering on, I decide to use my Itouch to access CNN, might as well see what's happening in the rest of the world, but wait, darn, I forgot, the CNN app is broken. It starts, then it closes. In fact it's NEVER worked. Not once. I try another news app. Doesn't work. It must be because these news organizations can't afford to fix the apps. Or maybe it's Apple. Who knows.

One last shot. I use Tweetdeck to browse topics I'm interested in, and it so happens that since I'm so involved in performance management and performance appraisal training, that I do a search for "performance appraisal". I click on a link....WOAH. It takes me to Blogger where I find that someone is creating Twitter accounts to get people to click through so they can distribute P*rn through Blogger (which is Google, mind you). Hmmmm.

And then I browse over to LinkedIn to see what's happening in the discussion groups I monitor. On average, nine of ten comments/posts are self-promotional spam, some having nothing to do with the topic. So glad this is going so well.

Now, I've relaxed myself into a severe case of high blood pressure (it must have been those dirty pictures), so I shut down, and froth. Tomorrow is another day.

Now I'm not relaxing so much.

Next Morning

A new day, fresh start. I have to go out of town, so I want to print out the addresses and info I'll need to find people. No sweat. I have a quad core, three printers attached, so I go to print out some emails. Computer is telling me I have too many fonts, and lord knows what that has to do with getting output, but it refuses. No error messages that have any actionable information. Not only that, but when I try to reinstall, that doesn't work, and now with printers installed, my email client won't even display stuff on screen. Not only can I not print, but if I try, it will stop me from reading my email. Who did I insult?

Ok. Stuff happens. I know I didn't change anything from yesterday connected to printing. Ghost in the machine. I go online. I do search. I get to how to remove fonts. Oh, that's interesting. Microsoft won't let me delete the Mongolian font, or the Korean ones, or, well any of the other ones. I don't actually recall having to write in Mongolian so I'm offended. MS knows best, I suppose.

Back to Internet. Oh. I see. I have to manually edit the registry. Not a good plan when aggravated, tired, or it's after 7 at night. Problem not solved. Time spent trying to print, one hour. no dice. I'm back to pencils.

I need to top up my pay as you go cells for the trip. Rogers. I hate Rogers. I hate all the others too, because they all think that almost any calls I make from my town are long distance to everywhere so I can't buy another plan to suit my needs, which is emergency communication. Go to website. Call up my information....good good. Link to top up doesn't do anything. No error messages. Must be browser. Try another one. Nope. Try the recommended one (IE 7). The fact that there's a newer one? Well, I don't have the old one. No dice.

Backup plan. Find email and complain. Just realized I lost my carry over balance. Fifteen minutes and I find email form. Completed. I DO get a reply. It tells me to send them additional information, how to do it, and THEN it tells me they won't do anything, because they don't deal with "that". Bot. Or stupid bot. Or really stupid human.

Ok. Try doing it through the phones. I only have one cell here. Voice system. Asks for password. I type it in. It has numbers. It displays letters. Odd. Can't get phone to transmit numbers. Probably me. But wait. It accepted my menu choice as a number. Why not my password. 20 minutes doing this. No joy.

I really need to get this done NOW. Back to Rogers site. Try two different phone numbers that sound promising. Nope. Caught in "press this and press that". I am now using my land line. After another 20 minutes, tell me if you've heard this one before, I get a person. Yippee. I explain without ranting. I want to rant. I want to do evil things. Silence. Clever this person. I probably taught her to do this in one of my seminars. I have to continue. She restores my lost balances, and I top up. (Did you know that corps will allow you to increase your plans or channels online, but if you want to reduce the service you purchase, and you wish to do this online, you can't?)

Time taken; ONE HOUR 30 MINUTES. My poor mother with the broken hip in the hospital is going to be climbing the walls thinking I am now dead and lord love Rogers, but I've gotten to hear their automated pitch in my ear while I try to get through their idiotic menu phone system.

Just Some Background Before We Get To The Point

Understand I'm not a technophobe. I've been working with computers since the commodore-64, and I can strip down and reassemble my desktop machine, and do most repairs. I can code some, and design and build my own websites, and, truth to tell, my business, which has been ongoing for 20 years, could never have existed without technology.

I'm hardly unskilled. I'm not perfect and some of the things I've outlined are at least partly my fault.

The Point: Customer Experience, Customer Service and Technology

I'm not sure how much time I spend "serving" the technology that's supposed to make my world run. On average, an hour a day? Perhaps two hours a day trying to get technology to do what I need it to do. I suspect most of us spend much more time than we think trying to "get things to work". A lot of time is spent on micro-problem solving-how do I get this font, or how do I change this screen.

Our systems, both human and technological are so complex that it's amazing they work at all, but it requires more investment than we realize. How many times in a day do you encounter technology that is too complicated, doesn't work properly or is so badly documented that it would take hours, days to get close to the point where you master it, instead of it mastering you? A minute here, another ten there, and soon it eats at your day.

Which is to say that technology has hit the point where it impacts severely on customer experience of the product and increases the need for customers to have support from companies who are loathe to cut their profits.

The technology based systems to support and help customers are so complex, often they don't work, as is the case with Rogers above. The staff are so fed up with having to make excuses for breakdowns, you can hear it in their voices, and the very process of getting help requires one to first get help to be able to figure out how to get the help one needs to get whatever thing to work.

Ok. It's almost funny, but one thing is sure. Technology is NOT improving customer service. It will never do so, and we have only to look at the voice telephone systems used in companies to know that the sheer act of getting to a human (while waiting within the technology) can take hours. It doesn't work.

Complexity is the killer.

PS. I haven't told you about the hours spent trying to do simple things with Facebook Connect (yes, followed instructions, read docs), or the dozen other events in any 24 period that eat up time - my time as a customer who has things to do other than service THEIR technology.

PPS. My Roomba Robotic Vacuum apparently unplugged my ITouch as it was charging, so, well, it's not ready to go.


You relate I bet as a customer or as a rep. Comment.



About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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