4 May 2020 | 8 Comments
On Friday I had an experience that made me look at customer service in a different way. It was a rather bad experience–but not entirely terrible–which made it stand out.
I received a letter from my company’s dental provider, Anthem, informing us of an upcoming renewal. That was great–I like when any type of subscription service prompts you before they charge more money.
However, I noticed that the letter was forwarded from my old address (I moved my home/office last year). So I signed on my employer account on Athem’s website to change the address…only to find that wasn’t an option.
So I called customer service and politely explained that I wanted to change my address. This was the first of SIX brief conversations and calls, all of which started with me asking to change my mailing address and ending with the person telling me they would transfer me to the representative who could make that change. Finally, the last person told me I needed to email the change to Anthem, and they provided the email address.
On the surface, this is terrible customer service, right? I shouldn’t need to spend 45 minutes on the phone with 6 different people to change my mailing address. But here’s the odd thing: Every person I spoke to was nice and competent. They were doing their best to serve me based on Anthem’s system.
It made me realize that even great customer interactions can be foiled by a decentralized system that requires too many points of contact to resolve an issue. How many are too many? I’d say 1 is great, 2 is often ideal, and 3+ is too many.
For example, say you buy a Stonemaier product and discover that a piece is missing. Perhaps you can’t find our replacement parts form, so you post a comment or send us an email. That’s 1 point of contact. We would then direct you to the form (2nd point of contact). That’s it. You’re done.
The experience made me look at our website in a new way, particularly with the addition of Joe as our Director of Communications (many direct messages go to him first, and he resolves most of them, with only a small number ending up with me).
I’ve started viewing any new request or question through this lens: How many points of contact were required for the customer’s request to be resolved? If the answer is more than 3, what can I do to reduce that number in the future?
I mentioned above that 2 points of contact is often ideal. The reason I mention this is because I think there are certain types of privately asked questions that are better asked publicly where others can benefit from the answers. I still get rules questions asked privately on BoardGameGeek and via my personal Facebook messenger, and I think the freedom for me to say, “Please ask this in a Scythe thread the Scythe Facebook group” is mutually beneficial for all parties (especially since the customer then knows the correct place to get the fastest answers in the future).
I like when a good or bad customer service experience helps me look at Stonemaier’s system in a new way. My experience with Anthem was a great reminder that great service goes beyond positive interactions–it’s also about reducing the points of contact to a reasonable number.
Have you had a recent experience with too many (or the right number) of points of contact?
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