Tag Archives: Customer Experience

3 Months To Get A Phone = 5 Lessons In Customer Relations!

Great customer relations is essential for companies to retain customers. But once in a while, when companies get too big, they forget how essential customer relations are.

My attempt to get a phone for 3 months from a leading telco is a great example of how bad customer service can dent the trust of even the most loyal customer.

This is more than a tale of poor customer service though. It also highlights the importance of investing in backend operations.

Updated @ 20190-06-01 : Find out what happened when I went to pick up my “reserved phone”…

Originally posted @ 2019-05-27


3 Months To Get A Phone??!

It is usually easy enough to renew a telco contract, and pick up a new phone. Just walk into a service centre, sign on the dotted line, pay for your phone, and walk out in an hour.

But it took me 3 months to get a new phone from this major telco. Seriously.

When I investigated the issue, I was shocked to learn what really happened…

No, that’s not me. But I look exactly like Ice Cube when I found out what was going on…


Customer Relations Failure #1 : Breaking Promises

They are a popular telco, so it was no surprise that they would have no stock of the phone whenever I drop by their service centre.

Each time though, they will have me register my interest, promising to reserve a unit for me. They also said they would call me when they receive the unit on Monday or Thursday.

Unfortunately, they NEVER called me back. Not even once.

Lesson #1 : Don’t promise customers something, even it’s a simple call back, if you do not intend to fulfil it.


Customer Relations Failure #2 : No Coordination With Other Departments

Eventually, I got fed up and called their customer relations call centre instead. Their customer service specialist immediately saw the absurdity of the situation.

He told me he would have the phone mailed to me instead, and that the delivery service would call me to make arrangements.

FABULOUS! Finally, someone doing something proactive…

But more than a week later, there was no sign of the phone. Not even a call.

When I called customer relations again, I found out that a separate home fibre department put a stop to my phone order, because I allegedly owed them money on an account that was terminated long ago.

As far as I could tell – there was no coordination between the two departments. No one called or emailed the other department or even me to inform me of the situation.

Lesson #2 : If Department B makes a change to Department A’s customer order, it should inform both Department A and the customer!


Customer Relations Failure #3 : Three Backend Failures No One Addressed

With the help of another customer relations officer, we discovered that I did not actually owe them any money.

It was all due to, not one, not two, but THREE backend failures that no one addressed for more than a year!

  • In the past, every home fibre customer will be given two accounts – one for the home fibre Internet, and another one for the VOIP phone service.
  • In February 2018, they began consolidating them – combining both into one account. However, they failed to do this for my account… and no one noticed.
  • They also began charging for printed itemised bills, in an effort to encourage users to sign up for e-billing.
  • However, that exercise was apparently not properly executed, leading to my account being charged even though I neither used the VOIP phone, nor received a single printed bill.
  • On 14 April 2018, they “terminated” my VOIP account for “non-payment” with an outstanding sum of RM 37.55 ($8.99) for itemised bills that were not actually printed or sent.
  • Their system failed to send me any notice to pay for this mistake, and no one noticed for more than a year.
  • Someone eventually realised I still owed them money and forwarded this princely sum to the collections department on 15 May 2019.
  • As it so happened, that was about the time I requested for the phone to be delivered to my house… which they promptly cancelled without notice.

Lesson #3 : Enterprise IT is not sexy, but it is CRITICAL. We have to wonder if they made so many mistakes because their backend teams are understaffed.

It is human to make mistakes. But it takes a special kind of genius to make THREE mistakes like that, and not notice them for more than a year.


Customer Relations Failure #4 : Taking Too Long To Make A Change

Their customer relations officer assured me that I never actually owed them anything, and that it was a mistake on their part. Which was a relief… which meant I could now get my phone?

However, he also shared a problem with their system – it would take them at least 24 hours to correct the records. Only after that, can they release the hold on my account, so I can have that phone.

Seriously – in this day and age – it takes no less than 24 hours to edit a payment record?

Ultimately, this means that after 3 months and numerous pledges to reserve the phone, and one attempt to mail it to me, I am no closer to getting that phone.

Lesson #4 : Again, enterprise IT is not sexy… but it’s CRITICAL. If it takes your team 24 hours to make a change, your IT systems are easily 20 years out of date!


Customer Relations Failure #5 : Lack Of A Proper System

Even though their customer relations officer reserved the phone with a particular service centre, I found out that the service centre has NO VISIBILITY on reservations.

When I went to pick up my “reserved phone”, the customer service officer there told me there was no system to check for reservations.

Now it makes sense why no one actually reserved a unit for me, even though I kept registering my interest to “reserve the phone”. Not even when their own customer relations officer reserved one for me…

Finally, received the phone… This was actually the SECOND model I “reserved” since I started the process…

Fortunately for me, and happily for them, they happened to have stock of the phone. So I walked out yesterday with the phone, not because it was reserved, but because they happened to have stock of the phone…

Lesson #5 : If there is no reservation system, pretending to have one is wrong. If there is a reservation system, but your staff does not have visibility of the reservations, that is just plain stupid.


What They Got Right

Despite all these travails, every single customer relations officer I spoke to did one thing right – they were all calm, pleasant, and tried their best to be helpful.

My exasperation in being dragged along for 3 months must be very obvious, but they were never condescending.

Even though I’m really annoyed it took me THREE MONTHS to get a phone from them, I’m glad it did not escalate into an epic screaming match.


Customer Relations Is More Than Just Lip Service

If there’s anything to gain from this article is that I hope they LEARN the lessons from this tale of rampant systemic failures, and fix the problems BEFORE they get worse.

Ordinary customers will NOT care why you guys got things wrong so badly. They just know that you screwed up, period.

So we sincerely hope that this analysis will help ALL telcos improve their systems to avoid such issues.

Because if they persist… it can only mean one thing – the system was DESIGNED to indirectly extend the customer’s expired contract for as long as possible. Now, that would really, REALLY wrong, wouldn’t it?


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2019 Global CX Report Identifies Severe CX Risks In APAC!

In their 2019 Global CX Benchmarking Report, Dimension Data revealed an urgent problem – a severe Customer Experience (CX) disconnect in Asia Pacific that could put businesses at risk in the new Experience Economy. Here are the full details!


Severe CX Disconnect In APAC

Research from Dimension Data showed that 67% of respondents from the Asia Pacific region felt that customer experience is not represented at board level, with lower-level management or multiple managers often assuming responsibility. Furthermore, only 21% said their organisation takes a fully integrated, centralised approach to customer experience.

However, the research showed that most business respondents in Asia Pacific recognise customer experience as an important competitive differentiator (91%) that is also vital for driving loyalty (90%), revenue growth (69%), and cost reduction (52%).

Despite this, the research revealed that nearly a quarter of respondents (20%) are dissatisfied with their own customer experience services, and only 11% believe they are delivering experiences that would lead customers to recommend them to others.


The Dangers Of A CX Disconnect

This is resulting in an ‘artificial reality’, where companies are talking about CX, but not delivering on it, creating a gap between their CX ambitions and actual CX capabilities. Businesses are looking at several CX technologies, such as customer analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital integration, but aren’t currently able to implement them properly.

Pranay Anand, Solutions Director for Customer Experience, Dimension Data Asia Pacific said, “Customer experience must be higher on the agenda for every business and the whole organisation should get behind it. Brands acknowledge how crucial customer experience is, yet so few are making it a board level responsibility, leaving it siloed or delegating it to individual managers. There’s an artificial reality between organisations’ CX ambitions and making real change that benefits the customer. This disconnect must be resolved. Brands must make customer experience the priority they say it is.”

The research also revealed that many brands are turning to technology to improve customer experience, but often without a clear strategy. Some 37% of businesses in Asia Pacific said the digital solutions they have rolled out (such as chatbots and AI) do not provide the functionality their customers need, while around 64% of respondents said customer awareness of such technologies is the biggest barrier to adoption.

Anand added, “Technology is an enabler supporting and improving customer experience, but it’s not simply a case of flicking a switch for it to work. Claiming that the technology doesn’t provide the required functionalities or that customers are unaware of it, is a result of failed planning and communication not failed technology. Brands need to invest in technology, people, processes, and planning.”

Nancy Jamison, Principal Analyst for Customer Care at Frost & Sullivan, advised that brands should look to address these areas of disconnect within their business and measure, benchmark and report effectively to ensure such disconnects don’t creep back in.

“Customer experience benchmarking is more important than ever. Brands need to invest in customer experience but they also need to know that those investments are paying off. And if they’re not, they need to know what to change. Right now, it looks like brands aren’t putting the right kind of focus on customer experience and, as a result, they’re not seeing the outcomes they want. That’s bad for them, and their customers,” she said.


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The Adobe Experience Forum 2017 Key Highlights

On 8 August 2017, over 250 business leaders gathered at the Adobe Experience Forum 2017 to discuss how organisations can transform to become “Experience Businesses”. Adobe also released a new Best of the Best research on website performance across Asia Pacific and Japan. Let’s take a look!


The Adobe Experience Forum 2017

The Adobe Experience Forum 2017 was a whole day event, covering key marketing and advertising technology areas including cross-channel marketing, customer experience, data-driven marketing, and programmatic advertising.

V.R. Srivatsan, Managing Director of Adobe SEA and Scott Rigby, Head of Digital Transformation of Adobe, took some time off to brief us in a more intimate session, covering the two main topics – the new Adobe Best of the Best research findings on website performance, and why it is important for businesses to focus on building an “Experience Business”.


The 2017 Adobe Best of the Best Report

The 2017 Adobe Best of the Best report aggregates anonymous data from approximately 100 billion visits to over 3,000 websites across Asia Pacific and Japan in 2016. In his presentation, Scott Rigby reveals new mobile and desktop usage trends and insights from the report, including overall website engagement and conversion metrics across devices.

Here are some key findings in the 2017 Adobe Best of the Best report :

  • Southeast Asia (SEA) experienced the largest decrease in time spent on websites – 13% YoY (Year on Year).
  • At the same time, the SEA region saw a 40% growth in smartphone conversion rates to 0.7%, which still lags the APAC rate of 1.1%.
  • In SEA, the desktop conversion rates grow 21% YoY, with 25% for the top 20%. This is more than double the conversion rates of smartphones.
  • The SEA region saw an 18% YoY increase in smartphone traffic to 37%, which still falls below the APAC average of 39%.
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Make Experience Your Business

We last heard from Srivatsan in May, when he talked to us about riding the experience business wave. Now, he reinforces the Adobe message that businesses need to focus on go beyond digital transformation to “establish a seamless, end-to-end, digital-to-physical experience for the consumer“.

In other words – businesses need to focus on creating the best customer experience by leveraging on technologies like cloud services, big data and machine intelligence. Adobe naturally provides all these services through the Adobe Experience Cloud, that is made up of Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Analytics Cloud and Adobe Advertising Cloud, as well as Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud.

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