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seven mistakes that will continue to be made March 10, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something, Observations, Seen Elsewhere.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Southwest ICT posted an article called 7 Ways to Lose All Your Customers and Create a Big Mess, but really, I think it should’ve been called “Seven Mistakes That Will Continue to Be Made Over the Vociferous Protests of People Who Know Better”.

Here they are:

1. When they call, keep them waiting, while you find out… When a customer calls, make them wait while you dig out their account information.

Customer service in any industry starts with the first person the customer talks to. The lack of time and money to train people is coming back to bite companies in the ass. Also, find people who speak the primary language of the country in which you’re based without more than 50 percent of an accent.

2. During an active complaint about some widget they bought from you, ring them to sell them more stuff. Once the issue is resolved the salesperson calls you to check you are happy, asks how the system is now, points out why its was such a good buy (or something like that) and suggests that some later models now include additional features….. you know the rest.

This is more likely to happen with service companies (cable, internet, phone, cellular) than with businesses, at least in the U.S. (in my experience). Every time I’ve ever called my cable company (I no longer have cable, but I did for a while) they would try to get me to sign up for more expensive service that I didn’t want. I had no need for digital cable, premium channels, or more than the cheapest package. When this doesn’t work after two calls, make a note in the account. You’re more likely to prevent customer departure that way, even if it means you get penalized for not recommending the expensive product no one needs.

3. Keep sending marketing messages via email even though they opted-out from the last 20 you sent them. Include a link in the email which they click if they want to opt-out from future emails, BUT just ignore this and keep on sending them important junk.

I’ve found opting out to be relatively easy. When I moved a few years ago, I opted out of the e-mail alerts from my old local TV station. Somehow I ended back up on their list. More difficult than opting out, however, is updating your profile and/or subscription information. If you don’t remember your password, you’re screwed, and many companies have only one or two people capable of handling the system, and they don’t answer their phones anyway.

4. Choose to keep all information hidden away inside Word documents and put them on some network drive where staff cannot find, can delete or can create a copy on a local hard drive. You have to create alternative processes to keep track of things like buying patterns and new business forecasts etc. Often when quotes become orders someone somewhere (maybe in accounts) has to retype the details into another electronic system (probably not Word).

So here at CorporateSpeak we have several network drives. I have access to part of one and part of another. I can’t access anything from Sales or Marketing, and only certain items from Art. Makes perfect sense. And we have an internal network — let’s call it Lemon — that 40% of the people in the building use almost exclusively. Just try getting a file from my computer (on the building network) across the firewall and into a Lemon-scented computer. It’s almost impossible — and flashdrives are prohibited.

5. Buy expensive CRM software and leave no money for set up. End up with the Rolls Royce of card index systems. You recognise that you need more enquiries and better customer service so you go out and buy the latest and greatest CRM system with x days set up and away you go. It’s pricey but functional and should pay for itself through increased new business and a happier customer base. You invest and 6 months later it’s a great system for looking up a phone number and logging stuff into it. Moreover, some within your organisation don’t use it or prefer to use their old system.

People fear change. They’re afraid to change their workflow to accommodate new and better technology. At CorporateSpeak, most of the people who use Lemon-scented computers abhor Outlook e-mail, used by 98% of all employees at every office across the country. Not so bright.

6. Rather than buy the right TYPE of CRM system for your business and industry, you buy what was recommended to you buy a friend or because you liked the look of one. If you do, you can be sure the customer and staff experience will be a frustrating one fraught with technology hurdles to drag down your business efficiency and hamper customer service.

I find this to be more of a problem when one office upgrades and another doesn’t. Maybe you own a landscaping firm. Your office in Phoenix does a lot of xeriscaping, so they buy a system perfect for xeriscaping. They contract with a client who has offices in Phoenix, Miami, and Detroit. Neither the Miami nor Detroit offices need xeriscaping. But your Phoenix office is the biggest one in the company, so when they bought the software system for xeriscaping, everyone got stuck with it. This happens more than anyone admits.

7. Knowledge is power and ultimate job security! Keep all information and call history about a customer in your head. This way everyone else in your company will be kept in the dark about a customer and will have to ask YOU for information.

Especially in this job market, this happens more and more. It’s silly that it happens this way, but there’s no better way to guarantee you’re the only one who can do what you do. It’s more important for most people to keep their jobs than to please customers.



1. tboehm30 - March 11, 2009

Great list. I would call that the top 7.

There’s always more. No matter how good the call center is, if a customer is calling in to complain then they won’t be happy. There will continually be problems, and some of us (who actually try, or who care) do our best to solve them all, but sometimes we fail.

Give us a chance to do our best, and maybe we’ll keep some of the people happy some of the time.

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