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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Love What You Do

Sitting at a cottage today and everyone is inside because it is raining, people were either taking a nap or reading that latest novel - me I'm reading a book on Site Experience and sketching ideas in my trusty book. Why?  Because I truly love what I do.

Great slogan on a hat I have from Life is Good: Do what you like and like what you do!  These are true words to live by and it should help guide your career no matter what you do.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Easy Ways to Access the Voice of the Customer

My wife and I had an interesting experience over the last couple of weeks. We purchased some really nice bed sheets (Egyptian Cotton Warehouse) that had to be shipped up from the US.  The company uses UPS and delivery was really fast (about 4 days - which is better than most times when we order from Canadian based sites - but that is another topic) but with our busy schedules we never seemed to be around when the UPS truck came to make the delivery and, as we had to pay duty, we couldn't sign to leave it at the door or have it dropped off at a neighbour.  We order a lot online and have a really good UPS guy so he went the extra step and drew a map of where we could pickup the product before it went out for delivery the next day at the sorting station, needless to say we didn't get a chance to pick it up (and we don't have a formal pick-up location in our area). 

So now we have missed three pickups and received the dreaded the finally delivery notice, we are at a loss to what happens next so a call is made to UPS - its easy!  They indicate on the call that you can pay the duty over the phone and we can have it left at the door or another location.  Great!  We make the arrangements to get the product delivered.

A very simple solution existed here - let us know that we could call (or even go online) to pay the duty and then the drop-off is a simple process again.  We were even more shocked when the customer service agent says that this happens all the time as the delivery notice doesn't have the info, nor do the drivers know this process exists, in fact they keep trying to raise the issue internally but no one is listening.

Now this could be an issue with UPS or the fact that the retailers are not exposed to the pain in the supply chain but I think this points to a more core issue that many of us experience in our organizations today. Do we really leverage the experience of the front line employees in improving the customer experience? How are we collecting the information and using it to really address the customer pain points?  The good news is that we all have a great source for the voice of the customer but it is rarely if ever fully leveraged.

A couple of quick steps that will turn into quick wins:
  • Setup regular town halls for the front line associates so that they can communicate customer pain points, likes and dislikes of your processes, site, business, products etc.
  • Have a formalized process for ideas to flow into the business, this could be as simple as sharing the email of key people in the company with the front line to formalized monthly roll-ups from the customer service teams.
  • Action the issue and recognize the people that called out the opportunity, not only will this encourage more sharing but it will improve the moral of the customer service organization as they know everyone is working to make it better for the consumer.
In the end you have to remember that everyone wants to make every customer experience as good as possible. Listening to the voice of the customer through your front line associates is a great way to start to leverage this and will improve your customer experience.  Plus you never know - that idea of adding a line of text to the UPS delivery notice that you can call to pay your duty might not only improve the customer experience but also save multiple delivery attempt costs improving both the customer perception of the brand and the bottom line...

Update:  It seems that this was never meant to be - UPS never communicated that we had paid the brokerage to the shipping department so the product was returned to the vendor.  Egyptian Cotton Warehouse won't answer our emails and doesn't answer their phone so in the end we paid a bunch of money for sheets we have never received - so the sub-story is don't even order from Egyptian Cotton Warehouse...
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