Those that have any authority to make changes to improve customer relations are insulated from the customer. As managers move up the ladder they typically get farther and farther from the customer because managing internal resources and external media becomes more important.
As companies grow they typically outsource customer care or install a CRM system to manage those pesky customer interactions.
In return, customers, those that pay for the corporate overhead, get more and more frustrated with the lack of attention and literally no response to their inquires. Example: I have a credit balance on a credit card I have with Bank of America. I pay my bills on line and usually with the automatic pay option which saves me time. I accidentally overpaid a credit card to the sum of $400 and simply wanted to get my money back. I talked to the local branch I bank with and the manager said “You’ll have to call this number to get your credit back“. OK, so I did. The result is that I was thrown into an IVR system that just kept passing me to another IVR and I couldn’t get a real person on the phone after trying for 15 minutes. Frustrated I hung up.
I then went back to the local branch, complained and ask whether they could handle it for me. The response: “Sorry that is a separate division of our bank and we have not access to them”. No access to them! Well how do you think I feel trying to simply get back my money?
I finally, out of principal, moved all my accounts to a local private bank that assured me what happen at Bank of America would never happen at their bank. BTW, I still don’t have my refund from Bank of America (3 months later) after writing a firm letter to their credit card division. No response. Go figure!
So Who Can We talk To?
A series of new groups on Facebook are appearing titled “Conversations On……Walmart, Citicorp, General Electric etc etc. These groups are designed to enable customers of the Fortune 500 to have a place to express both the good and bad about customer relations, service and response to inquires. As previously posted in “What Comes After CRM” these groups represent significant power as the conversational rivers build around performance and customer relations with the Fortune 500.
So now instead of trying to get through the IVR systems of the Fortune 500 you can unite your conversations with others customers and build the conversational river that just may end up getting an executives attention. Remember, rivers flow into bigger streams taht eventually dump into a sea.
Unique idea and one that represents the power of conversations controlled and highlighted by the customer, you. Seems like these companies may in fact need Doc Searls VRM initiative.
What say you?