No Customer Centric approach in service delivery

I drive on a section of the N14 freeway where the road is being widened. While we appreciate this as citizens, I really have a big issue with the approach. In addition, the closure of the M2 for the foreseeable future has added more thoughts and frustration to the situation. With so many economically active people stationary in traffic unnecessarily – I would love to know what the financial and productivity impact is to the economy.

Here’s a picture of N14 traffic, and impatient drivers driving illegally from EWN.

I am also extremely distressed with the ENCA article titled “Expect gridlock on Johannesburg roads“. There seems to be just an attitude of acceptance for something that is a silly, unacceptable situation.

Here are my issues:

  1. It has taken over a year to widen the road. This is too long.
  2. The contractor is working on a single lane at a time.
  3. The contractor seems to begin working from the Krugersdorp – where there is less traffic, towards Centurion – where there is more traffic.
  4. The contractor is doing a single task at a time, not looking to achieve a good level of efficiency – through doing more at a time.
  5. The merging of many lanes into two lanes, where more than two lanes can clearly be opened, causes kilometres of delays.
  6. Economically active South Africans who bear the frustration of needless traffic delays, are the ones that are moving the economy. Clearly, this is not being thought of.
  7. In the afternoon, the N14 has many groups of pedestrians standing on the road and hitchhiking for lifts from private drivers. (While I feel a deep sense of empathy for people who have the transport struggle, this is both illegal and the cause of a daily 20-30 minute delay. This situation should have been stopped months ago.)
  8. Due to the insanity of the above, drivers become impatient and start creating additional lanes where none exist, or driving on the barrier where they shouldn’t. Later, they need to merge anyway, so this just creates more delays.

Here is the root of the issues:

  1. Neither the government, nor the contractor understand the principle of customer experience.
  2. Neither the government, nor the contractor understand their role is to get people moving, not to create parking lots on the freeways.
  3. The contractor is likely managing the contract around some sort of payment schedule, so doesn’t want to complete any section of the road, so that there is leverage to bargain with the government on.
  4. Neither the government, nor the contractor are using much common sense around the project execution and people movement. The only consideration is likely “The project plan”.
  5. The government is weak at doing appropriate / relevant communication campaigns – such as pedestrians on a freeway.
  6. The government is weak at enforcing regulation and laws.

Here are my suggestions:

  1. It would be better to work across the road metre-by-metre, so that it gets completed and traffic can move. Working on the entire 30km stretch and reducing traffic to two lanes only benefits the contractor, and is counter-productive to economic activity.
  2. Road contractors should work at night and shorten the project duration.
  3. Road contractors should open more lanes during peak times.
  4. Complete the road at Centurion first – the traffic is heavies there, and work towards Krugersdorp – where traffic is lighter.
  5. Pant the damn lines and open the road on the sections where the road is obviously complete.

Government, their agencies and regulatory bodies need to start to understand the principle of customer experience, and what their role is in creating an environment where life and accessibility are improved for citizens.

Right now, they are doing the opposite.

Dear full service restaurants. We know that business is tough. Don’t swamp customers at the door.

Happy new year!

It is a tremendous pleasure to see this side of 2019! We wish only the greatest and best for you, for your family, for you friends, for your community.

About 2019

I planing to blog a bit more in 2019, about what is on the mind, as well as on my areas of interest in innovation and customer experience.

My thoughts

There’s something that bothers me – from a customer experience perspective. I am a big fan of Mugg & Bean – I just love their coffee and brand. Also Spur – because I have a small child. However, I find that their waiters have a tendency to stand in groups at the door. This means that they are very ‘in your face’ when approaching the entrance. There isn’t really even place to breathe. Here’s a suggestion… have one individual, with great people skills to welcome and assign guests. The bombardment is unpleasant (take note, M&B Centurion Mall).

Photo shows a group of waiters congregating outside the restaurant. Courtesy of safarinow.com

Even worse was the Spur at Village Mall, Hartebeespoort. I was really irritated and unpleasantly surprised by your waiter who ventured dozens of metres from the entrance to ‘invite’ customers in. This is not inviting. It feels like harassment. I wasn’t going for lunch. I was walking past. The sense of inviting welcome that may have been aimed for, was missed. Again, the same suggestion as per above applies.

I am a difficult customer – being in the customer experience industry has done that. I expect a higher standard than many others. I do not expect to be bothered and harassed. I expect to find a free and welcoming experience.

Please can we work towards that?

A learning – one way to move toward goals!

Welcome to 2018. May this be the best one yet!

This week I learned something about an enabler to help achieving goals. Here’s the story… and the beginning of a journey.

Over the last few months, I have had the intention to lose weight and get fit. Achieving this has been in fits and starts, with different diets, exercise routines and the like. Ultimately, there has never been the desired result.

This week, I bought a digital scale that measures a range of health metrics and integrates with other health style metrics on my smartphone. The scale is still new, and for the last few days, I cannot stop myself from jumping on it multiple times per day to check out the stats. However, the one big weigh (and recording) takes place after waking up in the morning.

I am seeing a reduction in weight, and obviously, this is extremely pleasing. I’ve learned something else, incidentally. The strong focus on measuring is actually helping to do the work, in order to get the results. Sounds silly, but this is newly profound. It seems that to get a result, there needs to be a goal. All the resources to facilitate going through the procedures need to be there. Doing the work – this should happen. Continuous measurement and a focus on the metrics help to push forward, towards the goal.

Here’s to the journey! /eldon

Getting LinkedIn to sort-of show correctly on the blog

Today I actually got my WordPress blog to show my LinkedIn profile correctly (well, sort-of correctly) after spending five minutes on Google searching how WordPress plugins work.

I’m proud to say that the blog now has a user experience, and a customer experience that is closer to the vision we had in mind when starting out. We invite you to take a look, and leave any comments there may be.

Yours in CX! Eldon

Is it the lower ‘customer cost’ over digital service channels that shows lack of good customer experience by brands?

As a Customer Experience professional, I am extremely sensitive to Customer Service failings. Had a few in the last weeks and decided to write about them.

Working in the Customer Experience industry, I see the desire to push toward Digital service – either as email, or via Social Media. From a Customer perspective, these channels are low-cost. By this, I mean that it does not cost R1,20 per minute to send an email, or send a Tweet.

I have experienced lackluster support over email and Twitter that tells me that brands want Customers to call in to the Call Centre. That’s not always any better from a service perspective either. Here are a few support experiences I’ve had over the last few days:

Firstly, I struggled with something at F Bank. Their iPad app keeps crashing when I look at my credit card statements, and they have not reacted to my comments on the Apple App store alerting them. Last week, I recorded a video and tweeted their social media account. The response was a ridiculous number of hours later, and directed me to call their App team. Honestly, I expected them to own the issue and direct it internally, not make it my problem.

Secondly, I use V Cellular as my cellular provider. I am also an ex-employee and know a little about how their systems and processes work. I find their website functionality does not cater for many of my ‘advanced’ needs. As an example, I cannot get call sponsor configuration working, or I cannot pay my contract account online to benefit from credit card reward program benefits. There is still a big issue with the incorrect balances being shown. When I call in, I am asked the ‘idiot’ questions – despite having a profile as technical and knowledgeable. This is not understood. For a few months, we have had issues with the OneNet service and have sent multiple emails (these have been mostly ignored) and called into the Call Centre, getting transferred between different areas (I counted 6 transfers on a single call) while nobody can figure things out. The free cost of calling Support does not compensate for the high levels of frustration that I experience as a customer.

Thirdly, I called GD hosting and waited about 20 minutes for the call to be answered. While waiting, I tweeted about my experience and was offered some assistance pretty quickly a few hours later. I appreciate that GD allows the option to wait in the telephone queue without any music. They actually provide the option in the IVR “Interactive Voice Response” system to choose not to have any music. While waiting the 20 minutes, this is actually very useful, when trying to concentrate on something else. After reaching an Agent, it still took another 30 minutes or so to have the query dealt with. To be fair, the Agent was great, but I couldn’t help thinking of the total cost of support as measured by the cost-per-minute for the call, as well as the likely irritation level of other customers behind me in the queue, now waiting their own 20 minutes or more in queue for service.

Support over Digital channels still has a long way to go. The response time needs to be as immediate over email as it is over a telephonic conversation. The longer the status quo – as shown in the above examples – prevails, it sends a message out that brands want customers to call the Call Centre and not interact over their channel of choice. Multichannel, omnichannel, and digital strategies are not working effectively for some of the biggest brands in South Africa. While these brands continuously measure and analyse transaction codes and reasons from Call Centre statistics, and look for ways to reduce both the frequency and cost to serve, the efforts to do so will not pay off if there is a lack of organisational will to react with suitable digital functionality and interaction speed that allows customers (like me) to help themselves. So I question what actually drives the lack of urgent, strategic attention and timeous, operational response to customers in digital. So far, my experiences have been astonishingly lame.