A couple weeks ago, I sat down with renowned industry analyst Sheila McGee-Smith to discuss how to digitally transform your company's customer experience. At the beginning of the webinar we polled the audience to see how many countries you do business with today. The highest chosen response from the audience was they do business with 10 or more countries. As Sheila and I discussed in the webinar, in the past, having a global presence was something that only the biggest companies could do and in the early 2000’s some big companies did just that, sometimes with negative customer impact as they moved parts of their customer service overseas. When I had trouble with my internet connection last week it made me wonder how those big companies were doing with their global customer service operations. I was about to find out.
Being in the customer experience space throughout my career has always made me hyper sensitive to sales and service experiences. This last week when having a service interaction with my cable provider I realized that the frequency of interacting with people has decreased over the years. Companies have continued to expand in self service making it easier to do business (in most cases) and heightening the need for good human interaction when the self service fails.
On a Friday two weeks ago, I woke up to find that my internet wasn’t working. I work from home so that is potentially a pretty big deal. Luckily, I was able to get enough data from tethering my mobile phone to make it through my conference calls that morning. In between calls I would reset my modem from the mobile app in the hope that it would provide a solid connection. The US/DS light continued to blink at me in a fashion that while offering promise, nonetheless did not provide an internet connection.
There is a “request a callback” button in the mobile app so when I was done with my calls I went ahead and ate the mushroom which shrunk me down to the size of a small mouse. . . no, no just kidding. I clicked on the “schedule a call” button. I received a call back almost immediately. He also reset my modem and while the US/DS light blinked away I found out he was out of contact center in Utah and worked there for three years. We talked a bit about his environment while we waited for the US/DS light to stop blinking.
The tech determined that my old cable modem may be the problem, and I needed a new one. Good news, there is a retail store down the street, and, he informed me there are 97 modems in stock.
The store was much bigger and much nicer than the previous version I had visited. And there were a lot of people. They were managing the mill of people with a list to which I added my name. It being a Friday in the early evening at this point, I checked the news and people watched. I’ll save you from my observations in both areas.
When my name was called I was able to quickly exchange my old modem for a new a combination modem, firewall, wifi, phone box, microwave, and nuclear deterrent that was approximately the size of a baby elephant although not as heavy (I imagine, I’ve never tried to lift an elephant and was able to carry my modem out of the store without any trouble).
Back home, I plugged in the modem and prepared to have internet again. The US/DS light blinked at me, was it winking, did it know? The remote rep from Utah had told me that I might need to register the modem once I had it, that I should plug it in and leave it for 30 minutes, it needed to download a lot of firmware, and then give them a call.
I should have used the “schedule a call back” number but instead I called the number on the business card from the retail store. It was a general number without options in the IVR that seemed germain so I ended sitting in two queues and talking to one person before I was connected with the support agent that could help me. Lesson learned. USE THE CALL BACK FEATURE!
The agent who finally verified my identity was very knowledgable about the modem and how to determine its mood. Its hungry, she said, you need to bring it a bail of hay and some peanuts . . . no JK. She told me this was indeed the modem combination to have as it was very reliable, not like the previous two versions, and would work great once we got it figured out. It wasn’t downloading firmware because it hadn’t connected yet but it was registered to my account. She told me that I could enable bridge mode and use my existing WiFi and firewall from Ubiquiti. Eventually, we got everything connected and up and running. My wife was able to watch Sherlock and my daughter was able to watch Flash.
Conclusions: Companies are continuing to improve their customer service operations through investment in a number of key areas. Self service continues to be the preferred method for help for when it works. When it doesn’t work, having agents with good information on customer identity, and the tools and knowledge to solve problems is a must. I failed to ask where the second rep I spoke to was located but I would say domestic. On another call I detected a subtle accent but again failed to ask for location. I understand that this service provider has contact centers all over the world. The fact that from a consumer perspective the location of the agent didn’t factor into the success of my interactions is an indication of a company successfully using resources around the world in their customer service operation.
I would give the individual steps of the experience high marks. In terms of overall time spent to get back up and running, 7 hours give or take, the experience has room for improvement.
It’s clear that times have changed. This interaction was worlds better than my last which was better than the one before that. But, my expectations have gone up at the same time and keep in mind the level of investment from this provider is massive. This level of service is possible for much smaller companies due in part to the availability of cloud solutions. Sheila and I discussed these topics in our recent webinar to answer some of the following questions you may have about the modern global consumer:
• What does a company need to do in order to be attractive to a modern global consumer today?
• How has the typical customer journey changed?
• In past years what did a company have to go through to deploy a truly global customer service operation?
• What’s keeping companies from being able to deliver the experience that modern global consumers expect?