Seth Godin writes in his blog today about an excruciating experience with PayPal. Reading through it I can’t believe there is anyone who doesn’t feel his pain – we’ve all been there. It also strikes me that while they are not alone, this is definitely an example of the intended customer service model for the PayPal-eBay-Skype group in my experience.
Coincidently, I was using Skype (which I think is a brilliant product) to call my bank back in the UK about my new credit card that’s gone missing in the post. While I was waiting in the queue I read in Seth’s blog:
If you’re on this system and a long-time customer calls in with a complicated problem, one that’s going to require supervisor intervention and follow up, what’s your best plan? Is it to spend an hour with this person over three days, or is the system designed to have you politely get them to just give up?
which I figured was probably an amazing bit of foreshadowing.
Both here in India and in the UK, reps know very well how to simply hang-up when they get one of these hard-to-deal-with problems, never mind being discouraging. Fortunately this is not the norm but it does happen with disturbing frequency. This is the curse of the AHT (Average Handling Time, the mean amount of time a rep spends on his/her calls during the day/week/month). It’s often the main measure for our staff and our centres and everyone in the industry knows that it is inversely related to good customer service. So one wonders how we have come to the conclusion that measuring and encouraging poor customer service is good for business. You can say it’s more complicated than that and perhaps it is, but it isn’t.
Is it any wonder that we have such high turnover of staff when we stress quality, have QA managers, monitor calls for quality but then incent for speed?
Because my new card was lost in the mail, my bank cancelled it leaving us now cardless in the run-up to our Christmas travels. Because of our travel schedule, if we don’t get the card next week, we won’t be able to collect it until sometime in February. The rep handling my call was friendly and understanding and stuck with me and my problem for every bit of 30 minutes trying to solve it. Alas, she was unable to get the dispatch people to send the new cards by courier even after I offered to pay for it myself, But they did offer this, and I’m not making this up, “Tell him to call back tomorrow and ask, maybe we’ll be in a better mood.” And with that, they went home for the day. I wonder what they’re measure on?