Jul 27, 2007

Designing the Customer Experience

It's a fancy term for a very much-needed concept that should be basic in all businesses: customer experience design. It means improving a business service by designing the process around the customer (instead of making the customer adjust to shoddy procedure).

Everyone has had a taste of bad customer experience design: making us wait in queue for a long time (whether you're lining up in a bank or calling customer service); filling up five copies of forms with 10,000 fields and no carbon paper; an application process that requires you to go from one building to another, taking up one whole day of your life, etc etc.

Government agencies and banks are notorious for bad customer experience design. And so are internet service providers. We recently switched to SmartBro, which came highly recommended by a friend -- a techie friend for that matter -- and that put a lot of weight on his recommendation.

But SmartBro's user experience design is neanderthal, to say the least. We were unlucky enough to have a faulty connection (each time it rains, we lose the SmartBro internet connection).

Worst, there was no way to contact tech support. There are only two ways to call for help in SmartBro. First is by email and second is by phone.

Email was not really an option since we didn't have internet service, anyway. Moreover, stupidly enough, everytime there's a problem getting a connection to the SmartBro antenna, a web page (which I presume runs locally, since there's no internet in the first place) gets displayed telling us there was an error and that we are to call tech support. Unfortunately, there was no phone number in that message and since we did not have internet, we could not surf the SmartBro website for the number!

This trivial addition would have gone a long way in customer service, but no thanks to SmartBro.

And what about the telephone number? We called it up and had to go through a series of recorded messages, asking us to click a couple of buttons. You know those voice messages -- they will ask you to "Press 1 to know more about promotions, Press 2 to know more about promotions, Press 3 to know more about exciting promotions..." If we wanted to know more about promotions, we would not be calling the tech support line. A tech support line should respond quickly!

SmartBro's support line was #4 in the heirarchy of recorded messages, so I had to wait for messages 1-3 before I could get to tech support. Which turned out to be a recording of "Umagang Kay Ganda". After hearing the song played for 2-3 minues, I gave up. (My wife had more patience, waiting for 5 minutes or more).

Update: It's 27 July, we still don't have Internet service and we still have not successfully contacted their tech support line!


Robby Villabona said...

A friend of mine complains that on top of terrible service, it's been hell for him to try to get them to disconnect his account and stop billing him. Good luck when the time comes!

ben c. said...

Hay, sinabi mo! Upon our recommendation, our in-laws got SmartBro. The tech person couldn't make the PC connect to their antenna/adapter. He insisted it was a problem with the LAN card and he sold them another LAN card for P500. The extra LAN card didn't work too.

I checked the PC (in System > Hardware Setup) and there were no warnings for device incompatibilities. In fact both LAN cards were working.

The in-laws requested to cancel the service and refund the downpayment. The request was taking so long to process. Meanwhile, I'd figured out the source of the trouble. The DHCP service was disabled. Upon enabling, the service worked!

They informed SmartBro and asked for a restoration of service. And what did the mataray customer rep on the phone ask them to do? She instead asked them to PAY AGAIN a new downpayment! She harrassed my sister-in-law, saying the old downpayment could NOT be used for the restoration!

Note the irony. We solved the tech problem for SmartBro and WE restored a dissatisfied client. But how do they repay this? By harrassing us and giving us hell!