Monthly Archives: September 2012

[Webcast] 4 Steps to Achieving Customer Process Excellence

There are few things more satisfying for any professional than taking apart a business process and reassembling it leaner, quicker, and more effective than it was before. Sadly, few professionals ever get the chance, or have the focus, to do this in a meaningful way. What many companies don’t truly see is the impact on their business of not reviewing, changing and adapting processes when:

  • Introducing new technology tools and platforms
  • Parts of the business change
  • Regulatory compliance tightens
  • Budgets are cut
  • Sales skyrocket
  • Customers complain
  • They’ve simply been in place for a while

Continually questioning why, how, what and when is a must for any forward-thinking executive. I’m reminded of Stephen Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and Habit 2 – “Begin with the End in Mind”. This must be the regular reminder in To-Do lists, Calendars, Meeting Agendas and the like in every company, and especially those in the technology sector (being the most innovative and progressive companies in most cases).

It’s amazing that companies do not constantly measure, analyze and change processes in a joined up way. Piecemeal updates usually cause imbalance somewhere along the line and result in poor process performance. This, in turn, creates dissatisfaction and increases the cost of transaction.

With this in mind, I’m presenting a webcast with John Ragsdale of TSIA on Thursday September 27 when we’ll look at this subject. Customer Interaction Design was developed a few years ago to improve customer-facing processes. The results have been dramatic, cutting call handle times, improving customer and agent satisfaction, and delivering tangible benefits within weeks of being implemented. We’re talking of millions of dollars of improvement, and happy customers and agents, by following a four-step process.

I have a couple of case examples to share. Please join if you can…

Social Media: Full of Falsehoods and Dangers?

Anything can be used for good as well as evil. History gives us examples of inventions that were designed with one thing in mind but ultimately used for something that hurt people (for example nuclear fission created cheap energy but then used to make bombs).

The Internet, developed to speed communication and share information, was quickly dominated by pornography. Then social media arrived and has now overtaken porn, and continues to grow in use and possibilities. Sharing things with family, friends and the world is a popular pastime which, on the surface, is harmless but now harbors growing threats and challenges.

Want lots of Twitter followers? You don’t need to be a celebrity or have something worth tweeting about to achieve that. Simply pay someone to circumvent Twitter’s rules and you’re there. Want a million followers? It costs only $2450, according to the referenced article. So having lots of followers, and I assume there will be similarities in Facebook, can be achieved the honest way or the dishonest way.

Then there’s TripAdvisor. What started off as a cool portal to share your experiences about a hotel, restaurant or destination is now dogged with claims of falsehood. In this case, it’s claimed, a hotel achieved great ratings because investors were busy posting positive reviews while real guests referenced unfinished building works and similar unwelcome aspects. At the other end, small hotel owners claim that unfair ratings are ruining their business and that TripAdvisor is reluctant to investigate and correct these.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods dog social media sites. Even though they probably account for a small percentage of total transactions, the notoriety a social network or portal can achieve when they fail to do enough to deal with the problem can linger for a long time. Worse, dangers exist out there with people going beyond just using social media for bad purposes to those that are deliberately evil. Young, vulnerable, people targeted by others with evil in mind are a concern to parents and society.

So, what can be done? At an individual level, don’t waste your time and resources following links that may be unsafe. When using Facebook, Twitter and other social channels follow only valuable assets and avoid anything questionable in terms of authenticity or morality. This applies to both adults and youngsters.

At a corporate level, companies must take seriously the threat imposed by falsehoods and dangers. Not just to their corporation’s reputation and finances, but to their fans and followers. How do they do this? There are companies that will, for a fee, review content and filter out the bad stuff – images, posts, video etc. They will investigate false claims and ensure only the legal, decent, honest, truthful stuff remains available for public consumption. Technology can help too, automating much of the volume to speed up review and contain associated costs. Some companies choose to do nothing because in the eyes of the law, they didn’t know and, therefore, can’t be responsible. But the law isn’t moral and companies need to decide if they’re in or out when it comes to social media. It’s a tiger grabbed by the tail. Watch it doesn’t turn around and bite!



Progressive: Unfortunate name for a backward company

I read this with disbelief. “Progressive settles with accident victim’s family after tale went viral” is a story of amazing corporate stupidity and self-interest that exploded online. Imagine the Progressive lawyers sitting on the defense side of the court as the bad driver is prosecuted. Read the article yet? Now what do you think of Progressive? A company to trust and do business with? Or one to avoid?

Only time will tell how much this case and the buzz created online will affect Progressive’s business. Their numbers may dip briefly but their image is now clearly tainted – at least for the segment of the population that uses the Internet to read the news, find information and transact business.

There are a growing number of examples of people in the public eye, and companies, doing what’s right for themselves and not what is right. In the case of Progressive they wanted to contain their expenses. In the case of British politicians the supplemented their income with spurious expenses, but got caught. Why did they do it? Because the system allowed them to do it.

I’m not promoting a lock-down of the system. More red tape and too many checks and balances just constrains to the point of¬†suffocation. It creates hopeless, impossible situations for individuals and companies, and spawns an industry of smart people that work out what the rules don’t cover. No, I’m not promoting regulation, but I believe individuals and companies should think about what’s right for others.

Here are some customer service examples:

  • My Samsonite trolley bag comes with a detachable liquids pouch for the airport security area. This broke after 4 years, I wanted to buy another, and Samsonite replaced it free of charge. I like Samsonite.
  • I switched home broadband from O2 to BT. O2 kept taking money, telling me that BT hadn’t switched the service correctly. BT explained that they had. O2 hasn’t replied to two letters, or refunded the money. I don’t like O2.
  • My garage, Belmont, misquoted (negative ¬£40) for a service on my car. I said I’d pay the full amount as it was clearly a mistake. They insisted they’d charge what they quoted. I like Belmont.

Multiply this millions of times every day around the world and it becomes clear why customers like or don’t like companies. When companies stand by their customer, even though it costs them on that transaction, they can look forward to repeat business. Customer’s defect when they find out for themselves that they’re paying too much, but they become advocates when the company tells them there’s a more appropriate deal available.

It’s time for corporate honesty, because regulation doesn’t promote doing the right thing. Regulation creates an environment of hair-splitting and legal argument, of blame and game-playing. Mind you, customers need to be honest, too, or this will never work.

What do you think, is honesty the way forward?