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Customer Experience and the Business Process

Blog: BPM Focus - Derek Miers

As you are probably aware, there is a real challenge for organizations in delivering an effective customer experience. The problem is that the Customer’s “Experience” is often an afterthought in most business processes. The emphasis is usually on the internal problem being solved, not the impact that this process has on the customer. Now some of you are probably saying that all our processes are customer focused. But the reality is that very often that internal efficiency and profit (upsell/cross-sell) are the primary drivers of customer facing processes.

As I type this post, I am experiencing just such a broken process – it’s the oxymoron known as Adobe “Customer Service”. So far I have been on the phone for 50 minutes as I discover that their Adobe ConnectPro product, while delivered as a “Service” in the cloud, does not have the other elements that live up to anyone else’s idea of what the word “service” means (either with or without the capital S).

In this little scenario, I am trying to get the ConnectPro account to accept the new Audio Bridge so that we can get seamless audio conferencing into the BPM TechShow. So far I have spoken to three people (inside Adobe) – Tech Support immediately got rid of me saying that I had to talk to Customer Service. After 30 minutes listening to reasonable Jazz at the poorest sound quality available, I talk to someone who then says I need to talk to a special agent … then I get the Supervisor of Customer Service that tells me … you guessed it, I need to talk to Tech Support. Strangely enough, I start to bleat about it, and the very nice sounding young man says he will connect me with the Tech Support Supervisor (immediately) … and now, after another 30 minutes, I am still listening to bad Jazz.

Why am I hanging on, just to see how long they take, and whether or not I can get resolution to this issue before my next call (I have missed the orginal meeting this was needed to support … so their bad/broken process has already impacted one of my own customer relationships).

I will also take the opportunity to feed back this “experience” to the relevant Product Manager at Adobe.

Of course, I shouldn’t have to be here anyway – the process that provisioned my account in the first place should have made sure the option was set up appropriately. That means that the partner (yes, you can not buy this stuff directly from Adobe) should have been trained to pick it up, or at least have an option to line up the provisioning automatically. Indeed, even trying to buy the product (i.e. give Adobe several thousand dollars) was a similar exercise in managing the frustration of being passed from pillar to post as nobody takes ownership.

The point is that the processes that handle the transactional side of the relationship are one thing (taking your money is normally pretty efficient these days … Adobe excepted), but all the related processes that go into delivering that customer experience are just as important. And I am not even an exception – in talking to the people who provisioned the audio bridge, it turns out that several others have had the same problem (i.e. it wasn’t set up right to start with).

Now after 71 minutes on this call alone (it’s my second), I am about to kill the call and try again – clearly the supervisor seems to be out to lunch (or else I was just routed back to that endless queue that will ensure this customer will sooner or later go away). But this time I will try a different route. Right now, I am so angry that if I had the option (time available), I would probably ditch Adobe in favor of a competitive product.

Having a free 1-800 number is no substitute for actually having an effective mechanism to deal with customers and their issues (i.e. work on the behaviors and culture of the people that customers interact with).

A good customer experience builds relationships, acts as a referral point for new customers, lowers sales costs, etc. And this post is proof that a bad customer experience is destructive to your brand. Bad experiences get talked about and passed on.

Within your BPM Program, you should start off with engaging the Executive Steering Group around the “Brand Customer Experience” – a broad statement that sets the tone for all customer interactions. From that point, it becomes one of setting up an engagement program with the business designed to first of all define the sorts of “Services” that customers can expect, and then from there, the need for processes that deliver that experience. Those processes are operated by people, who should be empowered (trained) to give that designed “Great Customer Experience” every time.

I will be discussing this overall method and technique in the Day 3 keynote (July 9th) of the BPM TechShow … but I doubt that anyone from Adobe “Customer Service” will be there.

Update: I called back tried a different route into a more general Tech Support group, and then finally was given yet another number to call (this one allegedly to talk to the relevant group for Adobe ConnectPro). After 17 more minutes of listening to bad Jazz sounds, I am now talking to someone. But it seems that the person on the other end is incapable of finding the answer. I get asked questions like “when did I purchase this?” … Irrelevant. Then I am asked for the Tech Support tracking number … strangely enough I dont have one. Then they want my street address in order to “validate” I am who I am … finally, after a further 20 minutes I get a tracking number. But can I look up on the Web to track that number … Noooo, I have to go through another exercise in ritual abuse (i.e. talk to Adobe Tech Support or what passes for Customer Service).

Update 2 – 6 days later. Since this post got noticed by Adobe I have had several conversations with interested parties. Of course, we offered to help them improve the customer experience … but it seems to be an issue they are taking very seriously. We’ll see where it all leads.

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