My head is still reeling. A CEO rejected my proposal to do some work with their customer service department. This company is known for woeful service and it’s hurting sales. They are losing money and market share. The polite “turn down” email said that “while my proposal contained lots of “feel good stuff”, they chose to invest heavily in new technolgy to significantly improve their ability to provide world-class service”.
I don’t blame the CEO one bit. I hope one day to get a chance to demonstrate to him that the feel good stuff is what will truly make a difference to the company’s service and bottom line. He been sold the idea that technology is the answer. When people use words like “world-class” I know they’re headed for trouble. They’ve bought the consultant’s line. The last time I heard “world-class” used was by a 6-Sigma belt that destroyed morale and production of a once very profitable business. Yes indeed, he saw the potential and destroyed it!
Let me ask you a simple question. Can you name a single company that installed the “press 1 for English” system and service actually improved? When your expensive washing machine breaks down—while under warranty—would you like to fill out an online service request form or would you rather pick up the phone, call a toll-free number and have a pleasant person actually answer and resolve your issue?
This is the biggest no brainer in the history of business.
My rejected proposal offered to teach the customer service people how to gather information in as little of the customer’s time as possible. Then, I wanted to form teams with the service department to resolve the customer’s issue as quickly as possible while providing the customer with with personalized updates throughout the process.
My cost to provide the design and training of this remarkable approach to customer service? Nada. Zip. Zilch. They manufacture several products I would like to own. I proposed a trade. My work in exchange for whatever they wanted to give me. If I don’t produce anything of value, give me nothing.
They opted to invest in technology. It’s safe and sure. No one will criticize the CEO for investing in customer service. And it’s sure to fail.
Too bad. I really like this company.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog