How Much Can We Blame IT for Bad Customer Service?

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Companies continuously run satisfaction surveys on their end customers – most of which are questions regarding product experience, price, service etc.

Besides the actual product features and quality which only part of an organization is responsible for, the large area of customer service is one that jumps to my mind when thinking about my satisfaction with a company/product? Even if I have had a bad experience with a company or its products, a high level of customer service by a call centre rep, a technician or whoever is solving my problem can bring my level of satisfaction back to where it once was – or potentially higher.



Several times over the past few weeks I have had to deal with service centers of large companies. Without going into details, I can say that out of the four companies (let us call them A, B, C and D) I contacted only “Company A” was able to restore my level of satisfaction to what it was prior to my problem – this was done through excellent customer service. “Company B” simply couldn´t solve the problem, “Company C” did solve it – but only after numerous calls and “Company D” is still looking into it and hopefully finding a solution!

Knowing how much call centers depend on technology and in particular CRM technology, it strikes me that the two last examples are being negatively impacted by exactly that; CRM technology. In one case it was not only a matter of slow performance of customer support applications but also the fact that integrations with other applications had not been done properly and in the last example it is clear that a strong knowledge base could do wonders (unless I am the only customer who has had this particular problem!) as it appears like the company is starting from scratch in trying to solve my problem.

The people who would know if these statements are indeed true would be the call centre agents – if asked by internal staff they could outline the pain points, give input into how to service customers better and give precise feedback on performance of IT. I thus wonder how many organizations manage to tie their external customer satisfaction surveys to their internal customer satisfaction surveys (i.e. that of call centre agents) and further back into IT technology and performance. I know one large company that does numerous of satisfaction surveys but the connections are not made between these and at the end of the day nobody knows in detail what causes or influences satisfaction levels. This means that several questions remain unanswered and nobody knows which of the following would have the biggest impact on end customer satisfaction:

  • Is it the functionality or the performance of the IT applications that should be improved?
  • Is there a need for more features and functions or could configuration or customizations solve issues?
  • Where are the (true) hurdles for a call centre agent in relation to servicing customers and solving their problems?
  • Would an improvement of IT applications or performance lead to ANY improvement in customer satisfaction or is money spent wiser on other initiatives (e.g. better training of call centre agents or motivation initiatives)?

My question (and request for discussion) is if anyone has made these connections between satisfaction surveys and analyses and got to some results or lessons learned?



I am a firm believer in the fact that technology can´t make your organization customer centric but it can certainly be a reason for customer (and call centre employee) frustration…..the question is, though, how much of the blame can we in reality put on IT (both in terms of technology and the department’s role) and how much is contributed by other factors?

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