Today’s adventure comes from a wonderful experience I had with a company I have been dealing with for years. The name is irrelevant, what’s poignant is this company was a bastion of commitment to the customer. From the top down this company demonstrated over, and over again to me that they “got it.” They went from tiny start-up to being one of the premier companies in their field in record time. They earned awards, recognition, and a lot of respect. What they also earned as they grew was the watchful eye of a much larger entity wanting to buy and merge them into their own organization. Maybe there’s symmetry in operations for the merger, but not so much for the customer experience.
Not that long ago I had an issue that needed to be resolved. I had called the original company and the phone was answered by none other than the owner and CEO himself. At this time they were very successful, had many employees, doing millions of dollars in business. He could have effortlessly switched me to the department that would have handled my issue, but he didn’t. He personally handled it as a matter of fact. It wasn’t for someone else to do, it wasn’t now beneath him as head honcho, the phone was ringing, he picked it up, and he could resolve it so he did. And that’s pretty much the way the whole company functioned. Front line employee empowerment to fix a customers issue regardless of title was the culture, and it showed. It also forged a bond of loyalty with me. For a customer, dealing with a company like this is just about as good as it gets. Then, it gets sold. Cue the music…“Bring on the clowns.”
When full integration happened you could see the difference instantly. There were issues like there always are, but the customer service aspect went from the gold standard, to that lead balloon feeling. I mean it was noticeable to everyone. I watched customers I had been talking to over the years leave in lockstep because the so-called “new entity” had a customer service department that gave the impression that the now merged companies customers were some how second class. For someone like me it was like watching a film of what not to do. It has been breathtaking to watch in real-time. In less than a month they did everything a company could do either by design or sheer stupidity as to make one feel the original company they were loyal to, was not the company they were now dealing with. They even changed the color of the logo…twice!
Personally I had a small issue which I needed resolved yesterday. My problem was since the integration I needed access to prior information that was done last year before the completion of the merger. However the portal to my information was no longer available on the company’s website. (yes the website is still an active, and promoted portal for the original company.) So I decided to use the “Live Chat” window since I was logged into my account, here’s how I was greeted…
Please wait for a site operator to respond.
You are now chatting with ‘******’
Them: hello how may I help you
Me: Hello *******, I can’t find the portal for access to my statement for last year..Can you help me?
Them: sure please go to www.*****************.com
Them: and login there
Them: go to accounts<history/statements
Me: Even though I was with ***** all of last year?
Them: we are now **************** sir
Me: I understand..all my past data is now on the ***** site?
Them: not all
Me: records for 2010?
Them: go to ********
Them: under accounts
Them: this is all the info you will need
I don’t know about you, but I could feel the indignant tone right through the screen. The other point is, if not “all” then where is the rest? It was clear she wasn’t going to tell me, or cared. I’m glad she knew that what might be available was all I’m going to need. Maybe premonition is now part of the new improved customer service. What a shame is all I can say. As for me, what did I do at the end of the conversation?
Closed my account.
© 2011 Mark St.Cyr All Rights Reserved