customer experienceI prefer to discuss positive and happy customer experiences more than negative customer ones. However, my recent experience with a company with which I do business highlights a great use case of disconnects in the customer experience.

I own a rental property where I pay for the utilities.  I had the bill for my internet connection and phone set up on auto-pay, automatically being withdrawn from my checking account. Recently, I received a new debit card, but neglected to update the auto-pay for the account.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Because I am set up with paperless billing, the company attempted to process the auto-pay, and when it did not go through, they emailed me.  My spam filter in my personal email account caught that email and did not send it to my inbox.  The company tried again a month later, and since I was not aware of the problem, the charge still did not go through, and the second email notice was still not received by me.

I received a letter in the mail telling me that I was past due, which concerned me.  I immediately went online, figured out the problem, and tried to pay my bill.  This company’s system would not allow me to set up a new debit or credit card, and would not even allow me to set up a deduction directly from my checking account, since two payments had been declined.

I called the company’s toll-free number, and received a prompt in their IVR stating, “Did you know you can pay your bill through our IVR?”  I selected the IVR option, and entered my debit card information, only to be told that the card could not be processed at this time (apparently using the same rules as online).  As I’m waiting on hold while being transferred to an agent, I hear the recorded announcement “Did you know that you can pay your bill online?”  Even though this issue was caused by a mistake by me, I’m sure you can hear my grumbling by now.

When I finally spoke to a service agent, she confirmed what I suspected: I was prevented from making a payment because two payments had been declined.  She also requested that I pay an additional service fee for paying through speaking with her.

Leaving out the fact that this company did not want to easily accept a payment, let’s look at this situation from the customer experience best practices perspective:

  • Once an account is authenticated, business rules should prevent a customer from hearing options in an IVR that do not apply to them
  • The agent should have been aware of other actions that the customer had taken, including:
    • Multiple attempts to pay a bill online
    • Attempts to pay through the IVR
    • That the customer was obviously trying to make a payment
  • The time spent explaining what had happened and what was being attempted is time wasted by both the customer and the employee.  If a collections group is trying to collect past due amounts, why make it difficult for someone who is actually call to pay?  (Think AHT savings…)
  • The “sold-on-hold” messages did not match up with the experience the customer needed to resolve the issue

Think about your customer service and support functions.  Are you creating a disconnected and frustrating customer experience before they ever speak with your agents?  Are multiple touch points in the customer conversation not matching your objectives for the customer experience?

To learn more how to overcome these issues with best practices, take a look at our whitepaper titled: “Delivering Exceptional Multichannel Customer Service“.

If you have a comment or story to share, I’d like to hear from you!