Monday, February 28, 2011

For cryin' out loud I'm NOT 'system generated!!'

Twice in the last 5 days I’ve had ‘customer care managers’ (at least that’s what they laughingly called themselves) in two completely unrelated organisations say to me (paraphrasing slightly):

“I’m sorry but it’s a system generated response. Sorry you are upset with its contents but because we deal with so many people it’s not possible to deal with people as individuals”

How sad (tragic actually) is that?


1 What is the point of running ANY sort of business if you cannot be responsive to individuals?

2 For crying out loud, why call it customer ‘care’ if you don’t actually give a toss about the individual?

My suggestion is to disband the customer care department in such organisations and have a company motto that simply says:

“We genuinely care for you … Err that is …. If you will be so kind as to fit into our ‘system generated’ profile of what we think a customer must look like”

It makes me sick to be honest but it also makes me even more determined to carry on ranting about it … If I don’t rant about it I’m condoning it at best; and at worst I’m encouraging really crappy companies to carry on ignoring individual customers.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tom Peters - More Simple Wisdom from the Master!

Tom Peters has been the greatest influence on my management and leadership thinking since I read his first book the classic best seller “In Search of Excellence” way back in 1983 – WOW!! -was it really 28 years ago???!!!!

Tom just gets better with age. This 3 minute video is his latest piece of pure wisdom about how to improve communications between teams in organisations.

Is it about the latest cutting edge technology based software system? …. Nope

Is it about sending all your employees on expensive communications workshops? …. Nope

Aha … It has to be about great leadership – Yes? …. Nope

You might be surprised with Tom’s simple solution.

Well said Tom – Unsurprisingly I’m with you 100%

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why don’t you LISTEN to your customer?

I have said many times how much I love the modern technology and how it has made life so much easier.

But great customer care is still ALWAYS and ONLY about PEOPLE!!!!

I’ve had a huge argument this evening with my car insurance company.

I’ve got 3 months to my annual renewal and I rang them to let them know my new address as we recently moved. I was told my new postcode comes up on their ‘information system’ as a higher premium area than my old postcode area – that’s fair enough I thought. They then tell me I have to pay £70 for the remaining three months because of this.

£70 represents 26% of my current annual premium and if my maths are correct means I would be paying an additional £280 extra premium next year simply because I’ve moved 7 miles!

I argued with the person on the phone who could only say ‘That’s what the system is telling me.’ So I asked to speak to someone higher up. After a while a ‘supervisor’ of some sort came on the phone and I had a similar discussion and a similar stonewall, immovable and totally inflexible, robotic, scripted reply.

I asked why, as a loyal customer of this company for 15 years, I could not get any dispensation. All she could say was what the automatic information system was telling her. I repeated many times how this was appalling customer service – she didn’t see anything wrong with the customer service. The mere fact she cannot understand why I thought it was terrible customer service tells me all I need to know.

In one fleeting moment of weakness she gave away that she was human after all by admitting that hands are now tied by processes and even the remotest element of initiative and flexibility has been wiped out by strict processes and protocols.

It amazes me …. For all the years I’ve been with this company I’ve told friends, family and other people how good they are. I have always recommended them. Will I do that anymore? ….. What do you think?

This ‘supervisor’ finally told me she could ‘escalate’ my compliant if I wanted …. Initially I said that frankly I couldn’t be bothered … I’d almost lost the will to live by this time …. But then I quickly reflected and changed my mind and said that yes I do want to escalate it. She said I will get a call back from a senior person in the next 72 hours about my complaint. I agreed to escalate it ….. Not because I think anyone in this organisation will change their position (I already know there is not a cat in hells chance of that happening) …… But I simply need them to know they now have one mightily unhappy and previously very loyal customer who, on principle, will not now renew with them come May after 15 years as a customer … And they clearly just don’t give a toss about that.

It is desperately sad how a ‘system’ has crushed the flexibility judgement and initiative of humans. These folks now have an ‘information system’ that gives them only exact and totally inflexible answers. It almost makes me cry that computers have been so ‘mis-used’ in this way.

This company has taken away all emotion and human decision making. It has given in to the ‘machines rule people’ concept …. I am saddened.

Some questions to this company …. Unless I’m missing something very obvious this stuff is really not difficult …. Any 10 year old will understand this ….

Give me one good reason why you upset a very loyal and long standing customer for the sake of a process?

Why don’t you LISTEN to your customer?

Why the hell are your humans beings not allowed to make judgements based on emotion, common sense and the real world?

Why don’t you LISTEN to your customer?

Don’t you realise that customers treated badly and made angry will tell as many people as they can about you?

Why don’t you LISTEN to your customer?

Where does your arrogance come from with your lack of customer responsiveness that implies “Oh well … he will stay with us” …. (By the way …I’ve got news for you … Oh no he won’t!!)

Why don’t you LISTEN to your customer?

All summed up perfectly by business turnaround guru, Victor Palmieri who said:

“Strategies are okayed in boardrooms that even a child would know are doomed to fail. The problem is there’s never a child in the boardroom”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gotta love this

Received a brilliant 'missive' today from a friend. It's about the Tory/Lib Dem Government cuts in healthcare expenditure in the NHS

Yes ... Yes ... I know the Prime Minister says there are no 'cuts' in the healthcare budget …. I say just ask nurses and doctors at the front line - they KNOW the truth.
35 years working in the NHS taught me lots of things - one is NEVER trust what Tory Politicians say about the NHS. They want to demolish it - simple as that.

Don’t believe politicians - especially Tories. They are ripping our NHS apart for reasons of political dogma and not reality just so that the NHS is ripe for privatisation. Mark my words.

Anyway, here is the missive for some Friday evening light relief ....

Proposed cuts to the National Health Service.

The British Medical Association has weighed in on the new Prime Minister David Cameron's health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it, but the neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.

Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.

Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Paediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.

The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

The ENT specialists didn't swallow it - and just wouldn’t hear or speak about it.

The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter...."

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.

The Dentists are fed up to their back teeth and may decide to extract themselves from any new contracts.

The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a gas, but the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the arseholes in London.

'Menial' Rules!

Question to all Managers: Have you actually worked on the 'front line' this week - if not why not?

In my new job I’m at last getting back to REAL operational management which means getting my hands dirty. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it

As Business Development Manager (grand title eh?) I love the new job and doing important jobs like cleaning toilets; cooking meals; making tea for customers and sweeping car parks; THIS STUFF SHOULD BE COMPULSORY FOR ALL MANAGERS.

It’s wonderfully liberating and it sure beats writing those ‘important’ reports in the healthcare business that no one ever reads!

I propose that no manager should be allowed to collect their monthly wage unless they can prove they spent at least 20% of the preceding month actually working on the front line.

There just is no better learning than actually DOING STUFF that all those pretentious, arrogant managers consider ‘menial.’

‘Menial’ rules in my book!