Make sure your tech talks to your agents

This article written by Michael Maoz from the Gartner Blog Network demonstrates the importance of consistency and communication across multiple departments, and, between intelligent technology and human employees. It’s absolutely crucial to involve technology, people and processes in customer service. It’s no good deploying an amazing IVR, if, when a customer reaches your contact centre agents they have no idea what’s going on!


Does anyone watch anything but sports live on television anymore? There actually are some folks who do, and they mostly drive cars assembled in Oshawa, Canada. But. Not to digress: I recorded a number of shows to watch on Wednesday night, the only night I watch television. On Sunday when I went to add a recording, I received a message that there was a technical problem, and a Customer Support telephone number was listed to help me. I dial the number, work through two simple IVR prompts, et voilà! A recorded message came on that informed me, based on my telephone number, that there was a known problem with service in my area. The message said that they were sorry, and that when service was restored a phone message would be sent out notifying us that DVR service had been restored.

So far, to quote from George Gershwin, “Who could ask for anything more?” Well, as it turns out, I could ask for more, and here is the rest of the story. Alright, I will digress for a second: that Gershwin line is in a beautifully and cleverly written song called, “I got rhythm.” There is almost no one in the Western world who does not know either the song, the syncopated rhythm, or the hints from the song that are embedded in Jazz – like Dizzy Gillespie, who looked back to Gershwin as the source of some of his bebop sound. Because Gershwin was celebrating rhythm –  cool and seductive. At my cable company: not so much. Wednesday rolled around, and now you know – if it’s 22:00 then I am likely turning on the DVR player, and this week I pressed ‘forward’ on my recording of Madmen to see what Matthew Weiner had come up with after a year and a half.

Aiysh! The dreaded black screen, and no show. But no more messages saying that there was a service problem. So I reached for my cable bill, called Customer Support, snaked through the IVR with little problem, and got a sweet and helpful young man on the phone. I told him that on Sunday there was a message on the screen and then when I called there was a message about a technical problem in the area. A) He knew nothing about any phone message and, B) he knew nothing about an outage and C) my system appeared to be working fine according to his system and D) I would have to check both Cable boxes to see which box had the problem. So I deftly removed the box, carefully engineered to fit in a recess. Why? Because the only way to identify the box is through a code stamped onto the rear of the device and written in tiny script only a fighter pilot of micro-surgeon could read. Why not on the front of the box? Why not a QR code on the front? Why not better device monitors embedded in the machine?

Ok, he said, based on the code, I can see that the set top box experienced a software corruption or undetermined origin (i.e., we are definitely maybe not to blame – plausible deniability is a lovely thing for more than just political leaders.). The technician sent through a patch, rebooted the system, and the DVR was working fine.

NET: The social media traffic had detected a problem on Sunday, but Tech Support was not told. The systems had detected a flaw and put it on the IVR, but didn’t tell the humans in the Contact Center. The young man said, “We flush all messages as soon as a problem is fixed, so there is no way for me to know what, if anything, caused a problem, if there was a problem on our side.” Convenient corporate amnesia. The company has all of the right stuff, but it can’t say, “I got rhythm.” But that is what it needs. Who could ask for anything more? Or anything less?

Let’s see if I get a credit for the three days without service. I’ll let you know. But in the meantime: whose responsibility do you believe it is to detect that there is a process problem? There are five different groups involved, and none are coordinated: Social Media, Systems, IVR messaging, and Technical Support, and Billing/Sales. Who OWNS the issue? Who represents the customer?

Leave a Reply