Customer 360, the capability to view every piece of information related to your customer and see a single version of the truth, is abuzz everywhere. It helps organizations and employees increase the value in every interaction and provide an unparalleled customer experience.
As a customer, through my personal experience, I have realized that Customer 360 is essential and needed - not just for organizations but also for customers. Not only do organizations need customer 360, but they also need to get it right.
I recently switched my wireless carrier from one big giant to another. Upon placing the order, I realized that I made a mistake with the phone's color choice - I chose red for all three phones. Instead, I wanted black.
Immediately, I used the chat feature and requested a change in the phone color. The rep didn't see the order in the system and advised me to wait another day and call customer service.
It was the same story the next day. So, I decided to wait another couple of days.
Two days later, the rep saw the order finally. But before they can service, they need a password, except I didn't remember setting one or having one. The rep was super confident about the password, and my not having one might have made them suspicious. They politely said they could not do anything further.
I googled on how to reset the pin and read I could create an account and set one. But I need a phone number. So I called again to ask for a phone number, and the rep told me I would only get one in the mail.
Without a pin to prove my identity, I asked if I could go to a store, show my ID, and verify. They said I could. I went to the store, showed my ID. Finally, they didn't have access to change either as the order was too far down. They also said they would not allow changing the color once the phones arrive.
I felt helpless. It seemed like the carrier made it difficult and indirectly suggested I give up.
So I wrote an email to the CEO. As expected, the presidential services team got the complaint, and they called me. I explained to them the whole situation. After several emails, they canceled the old order, initiated a return, placed a new order - this time with the right color.
Process and time lag -
Not all systems or applications had the latest information. It took several days to locate my order. To add to the difficulty, existing information around my abandoned quotes, previous relationships with the carrier muddied the waters.
Data Access -
I wasn't sure if all reps had the same tools or view of data. Perhaps it is a geographical issue and data privacy effect. I decided to call late at night as the day lines were always busy. I heard roosters. :) That person couldn't change anything and had to forward the call to their superior.
Locating the customer record was simple, right? Wrong. One rep expected the number to begin with an alphabet when all I had was numbers.
Knowledge base -
Changing color in the new order is a simple process, right? Wrong. The access to knowledge was different among different teams. I received a range of answers - from "yes, it is easy to change color" to "no, we will charge you for changing color, including a restocking fee." Only one person (with the rooster in the background) said that I could cancel the old order and place a new one.
Asymmetric Trust -
The carrier decided to implement authentication, undoubtedly a great control, but poorly. When I placed the order, the company had no problem getting all my information, personal details, SSN - did a credit check, and charged my credit card to complete the order. But once I placed the order, every interaction relied on a pin password that I never got to set. There was no other MFA - like verifying email or OTP to phone, etc. It was a broken authentication process.
Deadlock flows -
To change color, I needed a pin/password. To set/reset, I needed an account. To create an account, I needed the phone number. For phone number activation, I needed the phone.
The IVR had a callback feature. After I entered the number to call back, it would echo just the last digit of the phone number for confirmation and go into a never-ending loop.
I could have gone to a store to place an order or called them up. Instead, I chose to use their web portal. It was clear that the portal missed a few crucial things needed - it never offered to set a pin, tell me about account creation, provide an edit on the confirmation page, or explain the next steps like number porting.
Customer Journey -
I placed the order but didn't know what would happen next. I know the phones were arriving, but I didn't know how to port numbers, whether I needed a physical SIM card or how to set up an account. An order status page was pretty much in "back-ordered" status until I received an email with a shipping notice.
Of course, there are learnings for everybody. I will start with me. I should have checked the details before placing the order. But I also felt the need to fix the mistake I made.
Executives & Decision-makers - be your customer.
Executives and decision-makers must have a way to get a first-hand experience of the product or service they own. Place the order, try edge cases, test security, use the available channels to see what your customers get. It is impossible to see the pain in metrics.
Empathy is great, but it is not enough by itself.
The Reps never made me feel that I was paying for my mistake. The reps were cordial. However, I went into the call with a purpose - to change the color. Empathy was secondary. No CSR saw the entire story despite me repeating it, and they followed the process like machines. Except for the analyst from the Presidential Services team, no one had a clear path.
Look for deadlocks in the process.
My issue could have been an edge case. It was impossible without carrier intervention though I wanted to help myself out. Automation is all good, but there should be an override.
New Tool and employees will test your company's vision.
As companies grow, it will get harder to keep centralized governance. But it is also critical to have a consistent experience. If I had gone to a store, I am sure the rep in the store would have completed the order with a different tool hence a different flow. Ensure you rigorously test your workflows for consistent customer experience.
Get your Trust framework right - every time.
Sometimes I was skeptical if I did things correctly. I doubled checked the carrier website, emails I received, credit card, and credit check. If you are asking the customer to remember something, provide a way to reset it. Phone, email, security questions, cards used are reliable secondary forms of evidence.
It shouldn't have been this hard.
Dear reader, have you faced similar experiences?