The curse of 'systems'

After spending a harrowing few weeks in trying to get a leading card company in India to despatch an upgraded card to my new address, I've realised that existence of systems & databases are at times as terrible as their non-existence within organisations.

This is often the typical 'system response'. On the Customer care number, you end up talking to different personnel every time you call up with the same problem. The result? You have to repeat the story a zillion times right from scratch to each of the customer care center employee. You are e-mailed multiple times by different response personnel, leading to the same scenario as in a call center. The story has to repeat. My mobile is targeted by SMSs asking me to act on something that has already been solved. After having received my card, I still get SMSs asking me get in touch with the contact center for more details on the card despatch.

The system's a pain, literally. Lessons?
  1. Service personnel must have access to the 'story' till the moment of their contact, so the customer does not have to repeat it a zillion times.

  2. Do not take refuge in quoting the system as a reason why you can't act on the customer's request. Systems are designed for customers not the other way around.

  3. Do not conclude on a decision that hinders the customer from continuing with the firm's services. Do everything possible to manage customer requests before you let go. Remember, customer acquisitions cost far more than retention.

  4. More than anything else, databases, systems don't matter. Almost all customers around the world need firms to listen and empathise. That can even get customers to relent from a hard ball position that they have assumed in the interaction.

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