I say, you do

I’ve had a lot of trouble with couriers this week, or at least it’s felt like it, and it’s struck me that acting on feedback really is a bit more than just doing what customers say. For a good customer experience, you have to fix the problem instead.

In reality, I just had one problem – a parcel gone missing – but resolving the problem took two extra days’ waiting, three generally aggravating calls and four emails assuring me that Amazon wanted to be the ‘most customer-centric company in the world’.

That desire seems at best a stupid thing to say on emails only generally seen by the very customers you’ve pissed off, and at worst just a lie. Does Amazon really want to be the most customer-centric company in the world or is that just what they want to tell us.

I know that it’s a lie because this week an Amazon Logistics courier turned up at my flat to deliver something that wasn’t on his van. Which did show he was dedicated, but also that something had gone wrong.

The net result of the mistake was Amazon shipping six Dell monitors from Fife to Weybridge and four back from Weybridge to Fife, stopping on the way to drop the other two off with me, in Hampshire. Where I wanted them to be.

Mistakes and errors happen but I’m not sure being ‘customer centric’ does actually mean running some kind of Tour De England for Dell Monitors in my honour. Not least because I don’t even watch sport on principle.

When things go wrong, I don’t actually want anyone ‘taking this very seriously’ or even apologising for the mistake. They happen. I’ll live and you, call centre worker, don’t really care all that much. I’m fine with that. So why the farce of multiple surveys and despatching multiple monitors all over the place? To make me feel like you were doing something, I think.

On a similar note, I don’t think I understand why Royal Mail have gone to the effort of developing this page on their website to explain a problem rather than just fix it.

It’s the best example I’ve ever seen of a ‘customer-centric’ policy being implemented and yet it’s the worst example of caring about the customer experience. Doing what customers say isn’t solving their problems.

Waiting for my letter and pondering how I’d ended up in the mid 50s somehow waiting for messages transcribed onto paper and driven from one part of the country to another, I imagined the conversation that led up to that page being born.

“So, Bill thanks for coming to this meeting. We’ve not had chance to catch up for a little while and I have to tell you the emails have been mounting up. We seem to have a little problem with the tracking tool; people are telling us they don’t know what we mean when we say their parcel has been subject to an outward RDC Volumetric Acceptance.”

“Well that’s terrible, John. We really must sort that out.”

“Definitely. Yes, no. We really should action something ASAP. So a couple of the customer complaints have asked us to put up a page explaining what all these phrases mean. Do you think you could get that looked at and get Sam and the web guys to get it online by COP Tuesday? We’re really keen to put the customers at the centre here.”

“Brilliant John! I’ll get on it straight away. Thanks for calling me over for this chat. It’s been really insightful. We really do need to be doing more of this ‘explaining’ stuff to our customers. It’ll just make the whole experience more frictionless.”

I mean, would it really have been more effort to have changed what the website displays to make it seem less like having a tracked letter delivered required a degree?

Would it really have been all that expensive to get someone in Weybridge to pop the two monitors that had already headed down from Scotland back on a van to me, instead of on a van to Scotland to swap places with the four they were sending down in my direction?

There’s a big difference between customer-centric and doing what customers say they want.

Acting on feedback should be more than just I want you get but all too often it’s not, because they’re all too busy being customer centric to actually think of how to fix the problem in the first place.

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