Confessions of an Enlightened Customer

Confessions of an Enlightened Customer (by the way—why the heck am I on hold?)

Confession 1: I started writing this book while on hold with my cell phone company, listening to horrific canned music and hearing this recording every 90 seconds: “Your call is very important to us . . . You can also get assistance online . . . Have you seen our latest ——— ?”

It is all about me, the customer

I started writing, “Twenty minutes online . . .now on hold 11 minutes . . . ”

So, why am I still on hold? Because it is the only way to resolve my issue regarding the continued incorrect billing for my service, which is now a whopping month-end bill of $1,700. It should have been closer to $40. And the call-holding message keeps telling me: “Your issue can probably be resolved online. Please visit us at”

So frustrating. I sketched out the spreadsheet you see below, logging my time waiting for the phone company the same way I would log time for bill- ing one of my customers. Using some generic numbers from my call center consulting days, my frustration grew with every wasted minute because, obviously, no one at the phone company seemed to have any interest in calculating what a service issue costs a customer.

Monetize this:

Michael R. Hoffman Investment My Cell Phone Company

20 minutes preparation + 20 minutes online +

20 minutes on hold + 20 minutes call hold time = free + 11 minutes customer service rep 11 minutes customer service

interaction time = talk time =

My time: 71 minutes @ $3.00 minute Company time: 11 minutes @ $0.45 minute My customer cost = $210 Wireless phone company cost = $4.95

customer cost @ $50 hr = $59.16

customer cost@ $10 hr = $11.43

Final Resolution 6-Month Cost

My time: 551 minutes Customer service talk time: 120 minutes My customer cost = $1,653 Wireless phone company cost: $54

The $100 Billion Problem

I know I’m not alone in my frustration. The CSR on this call was kind enough to remind me, “Sir, we have over 60 million customers to take care of, and now they are waiting behind your call . . .”

Really? After a brief moment of feeling pity for her and the personal burden she carried in supporting 60 million service-inflicted customers, it occurred to me: “What if all 60 million customers were experiencing the same on-hold frustration?” I quickly started my calculation, and the num- bers floored me. My wireless phone company was costing its customers

$99,180,000,000. That’s nearly one hundred billion dollars that customers pay in addition to their monthly bill! And what do we as “customers” get in return? Please hold for the answer . . .

Here is the core customer problem: Companies—not just in the com- munications industry—don’t keep score by customer. At the executive and corporate levels, management does not measure the time customers invest in researching vendors, building their solutions, using services, resolving issues, the efforts a customer makes to assist in problem resolution, or the customer pays. This strategy worked until recently when the World Wide Web gave customers a voice and a platform to speak to one another, news agencies, and prospective customers.

Customer satisfaction surveys—Net Promoter Score, J.D. Power, and other “everything is all right” customer satisfaction measurement methods—miss the point. They are too far away from the customers, the interactions, and the phone call. The “long tail” is on the phone right now. This is “long tail” meets the Pareto Principle.

Key Takeaway: Poor customer experience design is expensive for every- one, but it is most expensive for customers.

This is why the CxC Matrix that you will learn about in this book is so important. It can be used to fix the customer problems and improve service delivery from the moment a customer begins the journey to fulfill a need all the way to product or service disposal.

Poor customer experience leads to incredible expense—not just for com- panies, but for customers. (At the time of this writing, the wireless phone company’s annual report says that it spent $21 billion in “selling, general, and administrative expense.”) Even if I discount the cost of my personal experi- ence by 90 percent, it means that my wireless company cost its customers nearly ten billion dollars that goes unreported.

The point is that with all of the investments in product development, sales, marketing, and customer service systems, companies continue to waste an unfathomable amount of customer time—waiting for the techni- cian to arrive to load software or install cable, waiting for a salesperson to return a call, waiting for the answer to an emailed question, trying to figure out how to use a product.

Will I ever do business with the wireless phone company again? Reluctantly, I already have