We’ve previously discussed the role of technology in customer experience. While some consultants (vendors perhaps) advocate that technology can provide a customer experience solution, at The Customer Edge we challenge that line of thought. In our experience, it all begins with the right mindset. If you and your leadership team do not consider customer experience as (a) critical and (b) an income generating point of difference, then the organisation will never become customer centric (read customer obsessed) irrespective of the technology deployed.
However, given that every organisation has an existing technology infrastructure doesn’t it make sense to utilise what you have, even though you may not have the state of the art solution that you are dreaming about.
Let me share with you my recent experience with a national health insurance provider. I’ll keep the detail brief but please bear with me to the end as I think there are a couple of learnings in this for all of us.
Unable to complete my claim through the online app, I was directed into the city offices to complete my claim in person. While this was both time consuming and inconvenient, I did indeed leave with transaction receipts stating my claim would be paid within the next 5 business days. Okay, maybe that isn’t quite correct…I think the receipt probably states that my claim will be processed in the next 5 days, I assumed that meant paid. After 15 days, I’d heard nothing so called and relayed my story to the contact centre. They were very good, but it took 90 mins for them to inform me that part of my claim had been declined due to an internal policy. Unhappy with the outcome I asked how I could escalate my case as I wanted to understand the policy further (not to mention how was I to know in advance that such a policy existed). The customer contact rep told me to submit an email as my case could not be escalated on the phone.
Maintaining my cool (and sense of humour) I duly wrote an email, providing all the references I could to try and make it as easy as possible for the person at the other end to tie it all together. Within a matter of days, I received my statement indicating that only one of the 3 items had been paid. I responded asking why and received a very swift reply stating that claims could not be accepted online (bear in mind I was not trying to submit a new claim, just resolve an outstanding one). Their recommendation was to (a) use the online app (b) visit a store (c) call the call centre or (d) submit my claim in writing…via traditional mail…… A little déjà vu, perhaps?
I won’t bore you any longer with my own experience but it has left me thinking about the channels that are set up for customer engagement and how they are used. In this day and age, where customer experience is becoming ‘the thing’ that people are buying, is it okay to limit the channels of communications to specific lines of enquiry? I have no hesitation in suggesting had my email been about the excellent levels of service received that they would have accepted it and it would quite rightly have made its way up the hierarchy to the manager and perhaps even their manager. The provider had chosen email as their preferred channel of communication to offer an update on my case. Why should I not be able to respond via the same channel?
Professionally, these are the key take out for me:
1.A new technology system does not come with a new mindset. Delivering great customer experience has to start with a mindset that wants to put the customer at centre of everything they do.
2.Company policies are important and are there for a reason. However, if they are being used by a call centre to explain a course of action, the policy needs to be explainable to the customer.
3.Customers have multiple ways to engage with an organisation. The lines of communication open must be kept open and where possible, via the channel the customer has selected.
4.The customer is not the product specialist, that is the provider’s role. Do not assume a customer understands your business, after all they may only interact with you infrequently.
But what’s the biggest take out of this experience? For me, it will be my family membership. We’ll be moving on…all four of us…not because of the outcome of the claim but because the provider made it so difficult for me to communicate with them.