Simple Processes: A Real Life Example

You have heard us say several times now that there are three pillars which every single company needs to survive and thrive in the next two decades.  Make love to your customers, Have simple, efficient processes, and Be a fine upstanding community citizen.  Today, we want to highlight how NOT having simple processes can destroy your total customer experience.

I have been a loyal customer of Dell computers for many years. In my eyes, their product and their sales service was superb and unmatched in the market.  (I say this after having purchased more than TEN million dollars in computer hardware from several different vendors,)

Thirteen days ago, the motherboard on my four year old laptop decided to die.

I called customer support, organized a replacement board, and an on-site tech visit within a five business day window and prepaid the entire amount of parts and labour.  I also waived off the ‘would you like to buy a new machine?’ because frankly the concept of shiny new toys is lost on me.  At four years old, my laptop still works beautifully.  

During the conversation, I noted that my customer master data (address, email, and phone number) was incorrect because we had moved three years ago. I cheerfully gave the new information to the customer care person and he completed the transaction by telling me my new board would be installed within five business days and a soft copy of the transaction would be sent out immediately. This was Dell.  I knew everything would be taken care of.  By dinner time, strangely, I had not yet received the confirmation. The next day, I called to follow up.

To follow up and solve this ‘minor’ back end office support issue of no email confirmation, I ended up dealing with three people, investing four hours of my own time (including the wait time on the phone) and swearing a blue streak at the mind-numbing yes/no endless verification procedures. All because of one silly thing.

The REAL problem identified.

The customer master data cannot be changed by the folks on the Dell customer service desk. Once a customer is entered into the Dell database, the fact that they move is totally irrelevant.  The fact that they change telephone numbers or email providers is totally irrelevant.  No information can be changed or amended — even at the direction of the customer.

Even worse, the account was in my husband’s name (which is different than mine) and while they did find my laptop, and my order number and my credit card and the money that I had paid, they needed to know what address was on the account (which I did not know because as far as I knew I had changed it the day before), they wanted to know the name on the account (which I did not know was my husband’s) AND they wanted to know the correct order of all six digits of the postal code from three years ago.  Because my knowing four of the six was just not good enough.  

Then, the process of giving me access to adjust the account with the right address and email and telephone number took 60 minutes.  (I had to set up a new account, call them, have them transfer the old account, lose all the history …. yadda yadda yadda) 

I finally got the soft copy confirmation.

Yippee!  Progress.  But wait.  The motherboard and the technician to install it are going to the old address. (where I used to live!)  And then the real downer.  Despite paying a premium to have the goods here in five business days, the soft copy tells me I should take delivery within 12 days.  THAT was never discussed.

Another 30 minutes to figure out how to send a note to please redirect the goods to where I actually live.  And another note back to say, sorry, we can’t help you.

This morning, it is thirteen days later and STILL I am without the use of a functioning laptop.

I have lost count of the number of calls I have logged. The motherboard finally did make it to my home.  But the technician to install it?  I am still waiting and frankly, at this point, am beyond devastated. 

The goodwill Dell had built up with me over the years is totally gone. Vanished!  No matter how polite and apologetic their people are about their cumbersome system.  And many did apologize! 

Apologies are a cheap acknowledgement that we the customer are inconvenienced. Apologies do not fix the problem.  Because your reputation as a fine upstanding community citizen is dependent on flawless total customer experience.

If you like to brag that you solve customer problems (something we hear every day), then be sure your company doesn’t cause them too.

Don’t be like DELL.  Show that you love and care about your customers. Demonstrate that all your processes work (and simply too) FOR THE CUSTOMER and that you really are an upstanding community citizen.

Here’s a super-powerful ninja tip.  

Ask a friend (even hire someone) to call into your organization with a broken something.  And then see how long and how easy it is for the customer to deal with it. Our experience is that if there is a TINY bit of confusion, simplify your processes or be prepared to have your reputation take a huge hit! 

If you are interested in learning easy ways to simplifying some of your business processes, call us. We’d be happy to help you.

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