Posts Tagged ‘moment of truth’

CEM Gone Wrong

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I recently had an interesting customer experience with my mortgage lender. Ok, I know the experience was with the individual in the call center, but that experience was designed by someone in the CEM department, or whatever they call it, and it was also a huge failure.

While making my June mortgage payment on line through my bank for my rental unit, I inexplicitly switched two numbers and sent the payment $90 short. A week later I received a notice that I was two months behind in payments. Knowing I sent the payment, I checked the status on my banking site…yep, there it was. Sent, cleared and $90 short.

Last week, before leaving town, I called my lender to double check the amount owed before hitting the send button. The amount totaled two months plus a late fee. I was confused as I was only $90 short plus the full amount for July. The representative said that no amount is applied when an amount less than the full amount is sent….something I did not know and an expectation they never set.

What was clearly a typo on my part (two numbers transposed) was considered non-payment by them. Interesting…and infuriating. I indicated I would send July’s mortgage plus the coverage and asked if she would waive the late fee. She said she did not have the power to do that and would need to transfer me.

Then she asked if I lived in the home.

ME: “NO, it is a rental.”  (I could visualize her reading her script….if no, go to question 89. If also a rental, go to question 122.)

HER: “Do you plan to keep it and continue making payments?”

I thought to myself, what? Of course. But I said “why do you ask”?

Stumped. There was no script directive for that answer. She had no idea why she was asking. All she knew was that the when dealing with late payments on rental units she should ask if the intention is to keep the mortgage or not. Ok, I get it. The company is trying to foresee any foreclosures or bankruptcies for obvious reasons: they too have been hit hard over the last two years.

This is CEM gone wrong. I was insulted they insinuated I may be attempting to “walk away” from my responsibilities. The goal was to get a feel for if a customer is going to “walk away” but the result was making a perfectly happy customer angry. That is not a customer-centric (sorry Shevlin) company. It is a company-centric organization interested in covering their assets at all costs.

They set the protocol to ask a question, but did not empower the employee to stray from the script and engage me in informational dialogue that would have streamlined the process. I should also mention, the next day, I received a phone call from the collections department trying to make good on two months of payments. I told the guy to read the notes in their fancy CRM system and hung up.

Aside from re-creating the entire process and empowering and trainging their employees, how could this have been handled better? For starters, they could have been truly customer focused, and instead of a letter and an insulting phone call, they could simply have called and said the following:

Ms. Gore, it appears you have transposed two numbers in your payment amount. Would you like to pay the shortage now, or simply apply it to your next payment?

Problem averted and customer, employee and company aligned.

PS some BPM work would not hurt either. 😉

Customer Experience is Not Tangible

Today I am posting my first official blog representing my new company,
Stance: Customer Experience Exemplified

FIRST LOOK
At Stance, our position is simple and strong: we help companies create positive experiences for their customers. From our standpoint, Customer Experience Management (CEM) is an ongoing journey (a leisurely road trip as opposed to a quick overnighter) during which we observe, address, and implement processes that place your organization, your employees, and your clientele on common ground.

For all intents and purposes, let’s start at the beginning: defining customer experience
and customer experience management.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The customer experience is not a tangible item. You can’t touch thoughts and feelings and you can’t bend an expectation or a perception. The customer experience is what happens when a customer buys a home or a phone, or orders a meal or gets a massage. The experience starts when the idea enters their mind and it really never ends. Every time a customer gets a massage or orders another meal, they think about the time before and how they wish this time would be different, better, cheaper, easier, faster, more emotional, tastier, friendlier or possibly the same. The experience belongs to the customer. 

It stands to reaason that your company’s brand promise IS the customer’s perception which is based on

  • Expectations
  • Experiences with you and competitors
  • Social interactions which affect the brand (thank you Eric Jacques, Customer Excellence)
  • Word of mouth

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT (CEM)
Two years ago I said:

“CEM is a customer-centric business strategy that ensures all employees are delivering the company values, mission and brand promise to create a favorable customer experience.”

In April 2010 I said:

“CEM is the ability to meet and exceed the expectations of those with the highest propensity to buy.”

Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst at Aite Group and author of Marketing Tea Party blog has a knack for consistently pushing me to bend my definition of CEM and go beyond empty industry jargon…..and I like it.

Yesterday, after reading his blog, I upgraded my definition again:

“CEM is improving business processes to include customer perspective to align the employees, the customer and the organization and increase business and reduce losses due to wasteful practices…. and do it better than the competition.”

It sounds so simple.

Processes – without processes companies crumble under pressure (something I forgot I knew and learned from Jennifer Gore – mentor, stepmother and friend) and fail to create optimal customer experiences.  

Customers – without knowing the customer, there is no chance of differentiating from other companies or creating remarkable, memorable and over the top experiences.

CEM is well-traveled by large corporations…but why should they have all the fun? Stance aims to introduce smaller companies to the benefits
of CEM (to be discussed in future blog posts): customer retention, customer referrals and higher profit margins.

Clearly CEM continues to evolve, at least for me. How have your ideals and definitions of CEM evolved over the years?

Thank you for supporting my first blog post. There are many more to come as well as inevitable changes including the new site design which is under way. I look forward to your comments.