It’s Just Not Common Sense

I’ve been reading a slew of customer service books lately which is always something I enjoy. Since starting in this business eons ago I have spent a lot of time thinking how we could do things better. Actually, I spend a lot of time thinking about how everything could be better, not just service but design as well.

The great thing with reading books about improving customer service is that those authors think the same way that I do. They have made a career of finding things that are wrong when it comes to service of all kinds and designing new and innovative ways to fix them.

Pure confession time here, the very best reason and the most enjoyable reason as well is reading about  terrible customer service experiences people have had…well, that we have all had. And then after having a good time with those sitting back and thinking about how they could be improved.

The goal for great customer service is to make transactions as easy as possible. The buzzword of late is “frictionless.” I like that word, make things as smooth as possible…no friction. But although the intentions are there, the reality? Not so much.

Here now from my latest readings are some of the things that make no sense and drive people (especially me) crazy: All the time claiming that they are “frictionless.”

  1. CAPTCHA, you know what that is right? Those idiot, stupid, painful I-am-not-a-robot exercises you have to perform before entering a web site. Find the streetlights, or the cars in the nine photos. Come on, get rid of those, who needs them? But one thing I did learn and that is what CAPTCHA is an acronym for. Are you ready? Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans apart. Good. Now you know what that most hated of all acronyms stands for. 
  2. Signing in after I got an email to go to my account.. They all do it. Linkedin, Amazon, Hilton Honors and it does not make a bit of sense. You get an email from Linkedin or Facebook that says something like, “A lot of people have been looking at your profile, check it out now.” And then when you hit the link to their website, you have to sign in! Come on man, you invited me. You came to my email box and told me to go to your site, to my page on your site and now you are making me sign in? You know who I am, you sent me an email for crying out loud. And then the worst part, and I swear this is absolutely true on the Hilton Honors site, before I sign in I have to do that stupid CAPTCHA thing! Really? You came to me…you got to my non-robot human being email and now I have to prove I am a human. Here’s something you guys can do…don’t send me emails about going to your page to check out my profile anymore.
  3. Ticket kiosks at the airport. These things could be handier; they could really cut time…if they worked. But most of the time they don’t. There is always something wrong. And even if you conquer all of the challenges of getting your boarding pass…you still have to stand in line to get rid of your bag. File this under “convenient and money saving for the company…not for you.” Actually, at your intense inconvenience.
  4. The same with self-service pay stations at the supermarket. These would be great if they worked, but they don’t. Or they might be fine if you buy a candy bar or a paper, but forget doing your entire grocery order on one of those. It will not possibly handle sixty-five items in a row without a screw up.
  5. How about standing in line ready to board the plane and being behind those people who have the boarding passes in their smartphones. Don’t get me wrong, I think this could be a great idea and contribute to frictionless boarding if it worked. But most of the time it doesn’t. Most of the time we are in line behind one of these proud techies while they spend three minutes passing their phone over the reader every which way they can, trying to get the reader to actually read their boarding pass code of their phones take about four times longer than if they had just used the real boarding pass.
  6. Or my personal favorite, people who actually believe in computer systems so much that they do not question them even when they make no sense. Look, once again systems are great, when they work and most of the time CRM systems do work. I once had an argument with a PCB inside sales person that it made no sense when she came to me to sign off on a quote she had just done using our quoting system. The price of 10 pieces was $100.00 each but the price of 500 pieces was $250.00 each and the price of 750 prices $450 each! And no matter how much I argued she came back with ”Well that’s what the system says.” No matter how much I tried to convince her that the pricing made no sense, no matter how much tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth I did, and yes it did get to that. She never got it. It was all about what the computer said. 

Well okay. I’ve had my fun, thanks for humoring me this week. Next week we’ll get back to more serious stuff. It’s only common sense.