Given that I spent the first third of my career helping organisations in the pursuit of Excellence (a la Tom Peters), the first element of which was to be “obsessed with customers”, it is hardly surprising that I notice customer facing issues.
Today’s experience with a software manufacturer highlighted an important aspect of Customer Care.
Coffee Cup Software produce tools for people preparing websites. There are some very sophisticated ones and some quite simple ones. They are low cost (rarely over £20) and work remarkably well. (OK they aren’t as tried, tested and proven as other suites, but for this kind of utility I’ve found them to be pretty good.)
As some of you may know, I’ve just revamped my business coaching website (www.businesscoaching.org.uk) and in the process I used two of the Coffee Cup utilities.
One of them, which produced the enquiry form, had a simple glitch at one stage, but was easy to fix and now seems to work perfectly.
The other is intended to pull RSS news feeds from some of my special interest sites (mainly on ecademy (http://www.ecademy.com/module.php?mod=club&op=group&cl=357)) .
Sadly it refused to work. I checked the software support forum and read through their FAQs, all to no avail. So I filed a ‘ticket’ with “Support” – through a medium known as “myroom”. A day or so later, a message arrived from “CustomerCare@coffeecup.com” telling me that the ‘ticket’ was updated and that I should log on to “myroom” to read it. Keen to resolve the problem, I did so, only to find that there was no sign of either my query or their response.
So, I replied to their email asking for further help. Guess what? Yes, the message bounced back telling me that:
This “is an automatically generated message. We will not see or read the email you send to this mailbox…”
Let me get this right – the company has an email address “CustomerCare@coffeecup.com” but messages sent to it are bounced back and we are told that they DON’T READ THEM. That is not what I call ‘customer care’.
It is almost akin to Marks and Spencer making people wanting to return defective items go up to the top floor and queue to speak to someone behind a metal grill! I kid you not.! They thought their exchange policy was ‘customer friendly’ – it was the experience that most definitely was not. It was instead totally humiliating.
Now I know that coffeecup will resolve this hiccough, but it illustrates a phenomenon that seems increasingly common lately. The leaders of organisations believe that they have listening ears – for news from within and feedback from without. They may even have invested fortunes in the systems and processes to achieve this degree of listening. And yet, the reality is that those systems aren’t working properly.
So the moral is simple really. Go home, and get your son, daughter, husband, wife, partner, friend, mother, father, or simply a mate from the pub, to go through the process of testing it for you. Give them a simple but pertinent bit of customer experience and see how easy it is for them to feed it back.
It could be a salutory lesson!
For media and speaking enquiries, please call me, Graham Wilson, on 07785 222380.