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The devil is in the details

shadiasimpson, [email protected]

The devil is in the details

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Recently, I have been invited to participate in a number of customer service surveys. Some of these were brief follow-ups related a specific request or purchase, some sought opinions about emerging needs and the most recent sought to compare satisfaction with known telecommunications service providers.
 This last one made me laugh because I was unable to provide a passing grade for any of the categories in the survey. Most service centres have a message advising that the conversation may be monitored for customer service purposes. If there is a tape of my interview, it could probably do well as a comedy show.
Each question elicited memories of service denied, charges when services were not available and a dogged adherence to policies that only benefit the service provider. I had a commentary on the questions and on the experiences. The interviewer was cracking up. Despite her best attempts to be independent and objective; she frequently agreed with my conclusions.
Each of these surveys was generated on behalf of private sector entities. The public sector is the sole provider of many essential services. Beyond the National Initiative for Service Excellence studies and reports, what other public sector attempts have been or are being made to discern our real needs and satisfaction with what is being provided?
There a number of points that come to mind:
1. Everybody promises good service but only their own version of it. So if as a provider, I have extended or inconvenienced myself to offer something new, you should like it.
2. Customer service departments, where they exist, are primarily complaints departments; staffed with persons responsible for enforcing the “fine print” in purchase and sales agreements.
3. Once you have signed up via the seductive marketing and advertising campaigns, the mechanisms for getting what was promised is fraught with being on endless hold, failures to confirm the discrepancy, and being transferred to another “silo”. If you want to pay, it is smooth.
4. I have frequently had to apologize to the complaint-taker (online or in person) for expressing the depth of my frustration and remind them that it is not personal to them.  Imagine being on the receiving end of a steady stream of vehemence and having no authority to provide a remedy to a reasonable request. It is hazardous to one’s health.
5. There is good reason to question whether or not these service providers are genuinely interested in our satisfaction and fulfilment, or simply giving the appearance of being service-oriented?
To the last point, here is a quote from an article by Bernard Marr, who gives examples of “big data” generated through the use of analytics: “Wal-Mart is able to take data from your past buying patterns, their internal stock information, your mobile phone location data, social media as well as external weather information and analyze all of this in seconds so it can send you a voucher for a BBQ cleaner to your phone – but only if you own a barbecue, the weather is nice and you currently are within a three-miles radius of a Wal-Mart store that has the BBQ cleaner in stock.”
Technology has advanced to the stage that these surveys I cited are like “horse and buggy” approaches. Ironically, these advanced approaches encourage greater personal satisfaction, at a much lower cost.
 • Dennis Strong is founding president of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants.