This was a strange week for me in the UK. Strange as in I continually found myself losing track of what day it was. Monday was New Year’s Eve – a family focused day. Tuesday – New Year’s Day – was a public holiday. That left three days before the weekend. All sounds straightforward, but for whatever reasons I kept misplacing my days.
I worked from home on Friday. We were expecting an engineer visit to correct problems with our new, super fast, super wide and super reliable broadband. In our hands, the broadband, has been slow (so slow that it frequently stopped completely); narrow (which I’m sure contributed to it needing to pause for breath so often); and completely unreliable (the only certainty being that whenever I really needed it, our broadband failed).
It’s often only when something fails that we realise how dependent we are. I found out very quickly how much my family relied on internet when our new broadband didn’t work properly. The shame – of course – being that my intent in ‘upgrading’ was to improve everyone’s experience…it just didn’t work out. Intent was good. Impact was bad. Feedback is a gift.
The additional unintended consequences were also sub-optimal. It seems our house is a delicate (technology) eco-system. One change – new broadband – brought several other changes. It transpired we needed more power sockets and less telephone sockets. And these associated changes – unexpected and unpredictable (to me at least) – all had negative impact.
In the brief moments when the broadband worked as advertised, it was awesome. Not only did my laptop seem like a new (and better) machine, but we were even to download and watch a film onto our TV. Unfortunately these opportunities – no matter how impressive – were rapidly and consistently obscured by problems associated with every other device.
I was way past my point of knowledge or understanding. I could observe the symptoms but had no idea of the cause. Even my technology savvy children couldn’t help. I had to call the help line. And this was where I experienced the final nail in the (proverbial) coffin – a disappointing (atrocious) level of customer service.
I know telephone help lines have a tough challenge. I also know just how often the first line of advice – turn it off and turn it on again – actually (and amazingly) works. But none of this helped me. The eventual promise of an engineer’s visit on Friday (after several long, repetitious and fruitless calls) was a relief. The fact no-one turned up on Friday was just shocking.
It’s an interesting thing about great customer service….it’s only really obvious when you don’t get it. We are still waiting…
I can accept my broadband technology problems are an exception, but I can only assume my customer relations experience is the norm. I know that we customers can be anywhere from unpleasant to unreasonable, but we can also be friendly and even-tempered.
Culture observed and experienced by customers of an organisation, is frequently the same as that felt and experienced by colleagues in an organisation. And culture is set by leaders. My best example is Virgin Atlantic who cultivate and maintain their culture by continually encouraging every single colleague to believe in, and own, their vision and mission.
A famous story involves an audience being asked to raise a hand if they are fans of Virgin Atlantic. Hundreds of hands go up. The audience were then asked to lower their hands if they have actually flown with Virgin. Nearly a third of hands stay raised – advocates of an airline they had never flown with!
Now that’s a culture of customer focus…