When I call my mobile company I get a nice, branded IVR (we designed the persona and customer experience for their premier line), I confirm that I’m enquiring about my business phone (nice personalisation, they obviously know my number). It’s noticeable that I go through 2 or 3 different systems, because they sound different, and you hear a ring tone in-between, which is pretty inexcusable (someone changed that since we did our bit), but it’s not as bad as when I transfer to an agent, and they ask for my mobile number, then they transfer me to another agent, and ask for my number again. This is MY mobile company, and they don’t even know my number! Correction, they do know my number, they just can’t be bothered to use it to help me. Now, we’ve all got a bit used to this kind of thing. I do still try to say to the agent ‘I already entered my number, don’t you have it on your screen?’ ‘No’, they say, ‘it doesn’t always come up’, or something like that.
We’re still experiencing the impact of technical design mistakes made over a decade ago, as call centres started growing and IVR and self service gained traction. Back then, the systems should have been designed from the ground up to make sure that ANYTHING a customer says or does is recorded and used to make their life easier. It didn’t happen that way, and we’re still paying the price. The big looming fear in my mind, is that these mistakes of the past will be repeated as contact centres become increasingly multichannel. More and more customer journeys will cut across channels, and business silos, and technologies. It won’t just be when you move from self service to agent to another agent, it’ll affect every single transition in a multichannel customer journey. Let’s get it right this time, or it won’t be Richard Wilson doing a small programme on frustrating self service systems for the BBC – it’ll be a full length feature film by Michael Moore showing at the IMAX.