Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Bond of Trust: The Sword Is Forged In The Fire

Neville Hobson has an interesting post today on what he perceives as a service failure by Virgin Media. The nub of the problem is that trust has broken down between Mr. Hobson and his service provider. Psychologically, after a service failure, and a perceived lack of customer support in and around a service outage, Virgin does really have to be exceptional in its support. A number of things stood out to me in Mr. Hobson's description of his experience: (1) An outbound phone call to him had a strong positive impact on his attitude. If the company phones you it is an explicit statement that your problem IS important, so important that we are contacting you, not the other way around. The fact that they charge you for your technical support (in reality) indicates that you are nothing but a commodity, and we do not want to interact with you, because you have no future value add to us. How hard would it be to email customers in low broadband performance areas and give them the statistics PLUS the applied discount PLUS a click to call option if they want to know more? (2) The concept of “Knowing” is important to customers; in this case, knowing was evidence of measurable broadband performance. Customers tend to like knowing that they are in a logical problem solving process, because this is more likely to result in a resolution. Good problem definition, based on measurables, preferably visually represented, give you the feeling of a “common ground” from which this resolution can be built. (3) Levels of “perceived professionalism” in employee performance leaves a strong impact. In this example it was the professionalism of the field engineers. I don’t think its a mistake that it was the engineers. Many engineers have a high level of identity with the profession as opposed to the company. As an engineer, they believe that they have some kind of 'competence responsibility'. Finally, companies that successfully address a product or service failure through great customer service, tend to end up with customers that are actually MORE satisfied with your company, that are MORE loyal. That's because the worst has already happened and you were there, you delivered, there is nothing more to fear. I trust you know. "The Sword is Forged In The Fire"...... (update: hat tip to Tom Raftery's Shared Items Google Feed which was distributed via his Jaiku stream)

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1 comment:

neville said...

That's a pretty good analysis, Paul.

I wonder, though, if anything you or anyone says will make a jot of difference to how Virgin Media engages with its customers.

I have little optimism on that score, I'm afraid.

But I'd love that expectation to be wildly exceeded.

Get your twitter mosaic here.