Friday, August 6, 2010

KeFactors Fridays: Customer Self-Service Doesn’t Mean No Service

Note to readers . . . Lucy references a specific kind of technology, but this story applies to every company automating processes to improve profitability and claim technology “makes it easier for our customers.”

Few things in life are as fascinating as the denial suffered by humans who’ve invested in technology, and how they insist it will work despite problems cited by customers.

In recent years, for example, commercial printers have invested in FTP sites to enable clients to upload project files. FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” — such a site allows the printers’ clients to upload large files via the Internet quickly and securely. This means a project can be delivered to the printer 24/7, without transportation costs, particularly at the clients’ convenience. And yet I’ve only known a handful of FTP sites to work smoothly. Why? The reasons are spectacularly human.

Printers would change their upload procedure without notifying their clients about it: in other words, it took a failed upload to make that clear. When an upload was successful, seldom is an email automatically sent to the client confirming it.

Even more staggering, if an upload wasn’t successful, it meant the client had to persist in calling to ask, “Did my files come through?” only to receive that half-blank, “I don’t think so...let me, they didn’t come through...can you resend?” The last part of that conversation could take hours to resolve. I’ve wondered how this made the printer look to their customers, about their commitment to service after the sale.

I’ve experienced upload complications that took up so much time, a courier could’ve been sent to pick up a disk for less money than was consumed by wasted time. I’ve also encountered technical people who wanted me to run through a variety of upload alternatives, without considering the impact on my time. Why is this important? The point is to get the work, not mire your customers in your technological wonders.

Put your ear to the ground and assess if your technology may in fact be annoying your customers.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Stewart said...

Such a terrific point. We sometimes make the simplest takes ten times as difficult as they should be wasting both our time & the customer's time. I've learned that if I make things easy for them, they will come back again & again.