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How to Annoy your Customers with Automated Actions

Last updated September 17, 2013

Hot on the heels of last week’s blog about making it easy for customers to do business with you another ‘episode’ this week has prompted this week’s little ditty – How to Annoy your Customers with Automated Actions.

I have just upgraded my mobile service and a new handset – so the telecoms company now can’t take payment from my credit card but now wants 2 direct debits – one to purchase the phone and one for the call charges.

That’s OK but 2 weeks after agreeing this I received a text saying that my account was ‘overdue for payment and due to be disconnected’; strange I thought. So I phoned and got the usual automated press 1, 2 etc. Sitting on hold and starting to get a little irritated I am then cut off after 5 minutes.

Next I get a text asking if I would like a text chat – novel I thought but after 15 minutes of texting I was getting nowhere. On to the phone again – finally a person to talk to – and I find out that the error is at their end – they didn’t action the DDM quick enough. I asked why I got the message and the answer ‘sorry it’s an automatically produced message, don’t worry about it’. But I do!!

Another half hour lost, not my fault and all because a ‘broken’ automated process kicked in – I’m not alone I know but when will large companies get the message that customers are fed up with sorting out their automated errors!

So, if you are thinking of automating anything in your business that will impact the customer, consider these questions first:

  1. Do your customers want to be automated? WIIFT (What’s in it for them?)
  2. What is the real impact on the customer
    • assuming the process works perfectly – every time
    • when the process goes wrong?
    • Can the process be fool-proof – remember people are involved so allow for human error?
    • How much training do you need to give your team, who needs to be trained?
    • Who is responsible for dealing with the customer complaint AND who is responsible for correcting the automated process and re-training your team?
    • What compensation might you need to give to disgruntled customers?
    • However much you have tested the process – you built it – get your customers to test the process until it breaks

Automation can be great but it can be a nightmare too if not properly thought through. So before you subject your customers to your automated process, consider what the risks are if it doesn’t work.

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Shirley Mansfield
Master Business Problem Solver

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