Flawed Customer Services - Single Point of Failure
In the previous two parts of this article the suppliers were shown to be wanting but their main problem was that they did not have sufficient and effective feedback in place to identify and resolve problems.
In this third and final example the supplier is relying on a procedure that has a serious and unnecessary 'single point of failure' risk.
Example 3 - Single Point of Failure
This final supplier offers customers a very clever application that converts between different media formats and offers a free trial that will allow the software to be fully tested before purchasing.
They market their product as a full suite and also in a number of 'lite' versions for customers who do not require all the bells and whistles. The product is sold in the region of $800 for the full version and $250 for the 'lite'.
For this supplier I purchased the 'lite' product on Christmas Eve as I required the software to complete a project that I needed to be finished by the New Year.
The order was confirmed online and a message displayed to inform me that an email would be sent to confirm the order and that it would contain download instructions, I was able to confirm that the email address that it would be sent to was correct.
No email was received confirming the order and containing download instructions so I logged onto the suppliers website and using the order detail menu options I was able to locate the order.
Mistake 1 - No backup
Although in this particular case the email entered was correct I noticed that within the ordering process there was no facility that would have allowed me to correct the email if it were wrong.
There was also no procedure to confirm that the email entered was typed correctly, this would normally done by requesting that the typed email be repeated.
There was no procedure to allow the customer to resend the confirmation and if the email were entered incorrectly, but by chance was a valid email address, it would be possible for an unauthorised third-party to receive the download instructions and validation key.
Even though there was a facility provided that allowed the customer to track the order through the website there was no procedure to allow the download to be initiated through logging onto the website.
Although there was the facility to download the full suite and then activate it using a software license key, this facility was not available for the 'lite' version.
In this particular case the problem was made worse because the order was place on Christmas Eve and so contacting customer services meant waiting until their personnel returned from the Christmas holidays.
For problems such as being unable to download a product a backup procedure online would reduce the number of support queries requiring human attention.
Mistake 3 - No feedback
Ordering procedures that do not allow customers to give feedback are missing the opportunity to gain from the customer's experience and this supplier was another who did not have any official feedback channel.
The reliance of email notification without having any backup procedures fails to take into account that mail systems are becoming less reliable as a first contact often due to over-zealous and multi-layered spam filters.
Not validating an address before sending sensitive information such as download instructions and access keys is very cavalier.
Having made the effort to allow an order to be tracked, it makes little sense not to include a download option along with the order details.
This series of articles has showcased three companies that each had automated procurement procedures and had established a customer service methodology that on paper would appear to be effective.
In each case the manufacturers would have benefited from employing a simple 'catch all' customer satisfaction survey to allow them to check that their ordering procedures were quick and effective that in turn would have allowed them to improve their sales and/or reputations.
Experiencing problems is a fact of life, but for good customer services it is important to be able to catch problems and then learn from them in a manner that continually validates and challenges a business's ordering and fulfilment systems.