Omni-Channel Design Gone Wrong

I had recently tried to upgrade our TV service here at the office so we could watch some local playoff games. First step, let’s go to the xfinity web site. After all, every company has options to upgrade services within your web account right? This is what we continue to be preached about in monthly statements, email promotions, mobile applications, and our good friend the IVR. xfinity promotes it so much, I bet I could get a free bowl of soup by just logging in. After logging into my account and looking around, I couldn’t locate any options for upgrading services. Customer experience breakdown number one. So, I see an option for web chat. Great, I love web chat let’s give that a whirl. I get connected to Arron who asks me a series of account questions. I think to myself, why is he asking me account questions if I am already logged into my account on the web. Shouldn’t my information be passed over to Arron including my search strings on upgrading TV service? That web chat button I selected was in a secure location on the web site after all. I pass over my account information to Arron who validates that I am who I say I am. Finally time to ask the $1M dollar question “how do I upgrade our service so I can watch my local sports teams?” Arron then responses with, “are you a residential or business customer?” I start thinking about the information I just provided and the fact that Arron should have my account profile in front of him and he should already know the answer to that question. I bury the snide comment, let that slide as an experience issue and answer “business.” Well, good old Arron indicates that this web chat option is only for “sales.” I respond in kind with the most logical response I can think of, “isn’t upgrading services where I provide xfinity more money on a monthly basis considered sales?” I wait a few minutes for my new friend Arron to write a response. Looking into his vast knowledge base of canned responses that were pre-designed by some Six Sigma project team 5 years ago who had no real experience talking to customers. So I wait, and finally the response comes through “you will have to call our business services number to complete that request.” Customer experience breakdown number two.

Arron could have easily had someone from business sales call me, but I guess that must be another team, phone skill, contact center location, organization, VP, and P&L. So, he provides me the xfinity business phone number to call and I give it a go. The first tree in the IVR prompts me to select 1 for residential service, or press 2 for business service. Since the phone number Arron provided was specifically for BUSINESS users, I am befuddled why they are wasting more of my time. So I select option 2, and another prompt comes up to enter the zip code of my billing location. I enter my zip code and again the IVR prompts me to select 1 for residential or press 2 for business service. Customer experience breakdown number three. I enter option 2 and it finally routes me to the next available agent. I get Jodi on the phone and I explain what I want to accomplish. Once again, I get the question, “is this for residential or business service.” Customer experience breakdown number four. I explain that this is for business, again, and Jodi says “oh, that is handled through our business services team and I need to transfer you.” Customer experience breakdown number five. Ok, I am at about 30 minutes into this experience and have navigated four different interaction channels thus far and this ongoing fight between organizations is evident and I am caught in the middle. I imagine the cost to support businesses is far more expensive than it is to support residential services so even though the customer called the business only number, AND selected the business service IVR option, route the call to residential support.

After I get transferred and use my 4th channel, I get the answer I needed and decided not to proceed with the purchase out of frustration. 30 minutes of my time and xfinity’s time wasted on a question or transaction that could have been solved in 2 minutes. It’s no wonder that their services are so damn expensive and customer experience scores for the Internet Provider / Cable Services are consistently the lowest in the industry.

So, for a company to claim to have “omni-channel” support, shouldn’t the customer expect to get 100% of their needs fulfilled in any channel? I would argue yes. So here are a few lessons learned for companies looking to improve their own customer experiences.

1. If you have an on-line account portal or information. Make it clear up front what services are available or not available BEFORE trying to force the customer to self service
2. On line chat options are a great option for companies looking to improve service but they must be able to perform 100% of the activities that a phone agent can
3. If you must have the customer switch channels, make it easy for them and proactively call them. Don’t just give them a number to dial
4. Route the call to the correct skill the first time! Customers would rather wait on hold a few minutes rather than getting transferred multiple times

Just think xfinity, if you actually rethought your end to end support model, you could have saved about 30 minutes of expensive contact center support costs and increased revenue to boot!

Now, go change something!

Scott McIntyre
Chief Instigator – Infinite Green Services