Picture-Impertect Contact Centers


By Samuel Greengard

It's nothing less than flabbergasting that so many companies mess up so badly when it comes to customer service. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the contact center, which lands at the intersection of good intentions, business processes and technology gone wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about three companies—Comcast, Wells Fargo and SiriusXM Radio— that provided wildly varying levels of support and success through their contact centers. This week's breakdown occurred with a manufacturer that happens to be mired in bankruptcy: Kodak.

Unfortunately, the experience wasn't a "Kodak Moment." About a year ago, I purchased a digital picture frame so our household could enjoy an ever-revolving array of photos. The digital frame was easy enough to set up, and the ability to e-mail photos, automatically scrape them off Facebook and add them via a Website was amazingly simple. Score one for the design and engineering departments.

Alas, a couple of months ago, the device began acting strangely. Odd colors bands began to appear, and then pictures began to display incorrectly. Neither a reboot nor a return to original factory settings resolved the problem.

Fortunately, the device comes with a one-year warranty. So, my friend dialed into the Kodak contact center to arrange for an RMA (return merchandise authorization). She waited on hold … and waited … and then wound up with a message telling her to call an entirely different number. She dialed it and waited some more. Then, after more than 30 minutes of trying to get through, the system abruptly hung up on her.

Undeterred, the next day I ventured to Kodak's support site to engage in a chat session with a rep. Fortunately, things turned out much better. I was able to arrange an exchange. But, along the way, I burned through another 20 minutes.

It's remarkable that so many companies can stumble or fail at customer support, despite all the resources available to build world-class contact centers. Yes, it's important to control costs. Yes, it's challenging to get things right and avoid glitches all the time. But somewhere between mission statements, feel-good slogans and branding lies the real world of delivering results across all channels—consistently.

Customers don't want to hear excuses, and they don't want to deal with hassles. They want problems solved quickly and efficiently.

Picture that!


2 Comments for "Picture-Impertect Contact Centers"

  • Jamie Salcedo November 27, 2012 2:21 pm

    Yeah so many call centers that I've had to deal with for tech support have been lackluster. I learned a lot from a brief stint in a call center in New Jersey that taught me on common call scripts and how they lose customers because they get too concentrated on speed. Thanks for the article!...

  • Emma Watson November 21, 2012 5:40 am

    Thank you for this wonderful article! It is extremely insightful. I wish that you'll carry on posting your wisdom with us. http://goo.gl/mvm49 ...

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