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« Subscribing | Main | Big Ideas (Meatball Mondae 11) »

Thanks for calling, please go away

Most customer service organizations are architected around a simple idea: interacting with customers is expensive, driving costs down is a good thing, thus getting people to go away is beneficial.

Think about it: most inbound customer service people are rewarded for on-phone efficiency. Calls per hour. Lack of escalations. Limited complaints. What's the best way to do that? Get people to go away.

If you're on this system and a long-time customer calls in with a complicated problem, one that's going to require supervisor intervention and follow up, what's your best plan? Is it to spend an hour with this person over three days, or is the system designed to have you politely get them to just give up?

I'd focus on building a system that measures [sales rate before call] vs. [sales rate after call]. If the sales rate goes up, give the call center person a raise. It's that simple.

Paypal seized the money in my account on Friday. After seven years as a user, they decided my new DVD project was suspiciously successful and it triggered all sorts of alarms. The first step was a call from them... a cheerful person asked me a few questions and all seemed fine. Then, with no warning, they escalated the process. The system they put me in treated me like a criminal and at every step they made it difficult for me to keep going. Phone calls were made, and I spoke with two incredibly friendly people who were clearly unable to do anything other than be friendly. Both people were happy to talk to me for as long as I wanted, but neither person was able to do anything at all. The system is clearly designed this way... to insulate the people who make decisions from the actual customers. The desired outcome (I go away) doesn't seem like it's aligned with the corporate goals (I stick around).

The question I'd be asking is, "Do people who go through process and manage to prove that they are not criminals end up doing more business with us as a result of the way we treated them?" If the answer is no, you're probably doing it wrong.

The last straw was this: After I put together all the documents they wanted (including a copy of my passport) and created a PDF, I tried to upload it. They don't take PDFs, the alert box said, just JPGs. So I sent the images and get this notice:

Internalserver I followed up with the email address on the screen and got an email back, informing me that the email I had mailed to at PayPal wasn't monitored.

Sigh.

[PS in the ninety minutes after I posted this, I heard from a slew of people. Guess what? Every single one had a Paypal horror story to share. Once you teach an entire organization to mistreat customers, it's hard to fix.]

[PPS the problem is fixed now. Thanks for your concern...]

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Thanks for calling, please go away:

» Your call is not important to us, thanks for your business from Multichannel Musings
Seth Godin shares a story about his struggle to resolve a customer service issue over the phone. The system ... [Read More]

» &102/ Customer Support on the Phone from Harald Felgner & the Red Fez
There was an article on UXmatters concerning Customer Support Online that we featured one month ago. It states: "Some companies even deliberately hide their contact information, because they simply don’t want customers to contact them." Could be. Read ... [Read More]

» Elsewhere Online: Thanks for calling, please go away from TechnologyIQ
Seth Godin had a lousy experience with PayPal and it seems hundreds of others have, too. While publicizing customer service failures can be useful, it begs the question, "What is the next step?" How do we get companies to "feel our pain" and actually c... [Read More]

» PayPal Horror Stories from NewspaperGirl
After last week I have even more empathy for Seth Godin after Paypal seized his account. I recently had my biggest client bounce a rather large check. Being paid on time and paying other people on time is one of the biggest challenges I face. That̵... [Read More]

» Thank you for calling, please hold,click from Outsourcing and Call Center Blog
Seth Godin writes in his blog today about an excruciating experience with PayPal. Reading through it I cant believe there is anyone who doesnt feel his pain - weve all been there. It also strikes me that while they are not alone, t... [Read More]

» Paypal Hates You from Consumerist
Both people were happy to talk to me for as long as I wanted, but neither person was able to do anything at all. The system is clearly designed this way... to insulate the people who make decisions from the... [Read More]

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