Have you ever had a payment problem with a company and it took you three divisions, 20 calls and legal threats to resolve the problem?
One time, my mortgage company didn't credit our payment. They'd cashed the check - I had a copy of the canceled check - but I kept getting late notices. I called them, they asked me to fax a copy of the canceled check to them, and I did. Problem solved ... until a few weeks later, when I once again received a nasty past-due notice. I called the customer service line, but the representative had no record of my call or the fax. I faxed it again - and the process repeated itself.
It was like Memento - every time I called them, it was just like the first time. It took us three months, threats of a lawsuit and one honest, diligent customer service representative to resolve the problem.
I couldn't help but think this whole problem could have been solved if there was, I don't know, some sort of record of my calls, possibly on something called a "computer," and that everyone in the company could access this record whenever I called.
Everybody has these stories. But few people know why - or how to solve it. Which is why I love this article by Mark Cioni, president of a business process consultant firm.
In this CIOUpdate article, Cioni shares his own customer service horror story, but this one has a moral: Even if you outsource your business processes, you still need to take ownership of the integration issues created by outsourcing.
Cioni defines what he means by business process outsourcing and the possible problems it can cause. But he also details how you can prevent these problems.
Here are my notes - attitude free of charge - on his suggestions. For a kinder, gentler take, read the article: Step One: Check your detached integrations. If you've outsourced your call center and you've outsourced collections, make sure these two companies can see the same data. Do some testing, for Pete's sake, to recreate the customer's experience in various situations. Step Two: Understand how your BPO providers plan to provide integration. What they're doing may not be the best solution for your company's systems. Step Three: Understand the level of instrumentation within your BPO provider's infrastructure and what level of access they have to those measures. He explains this one better and in more depth. To be honest, I don't really understand what he means, but hey, if it will improve customer service, do it.
Cioni promises he'll go into more detail about BPO integration in future articles. You can bet I'll be waiting with bated breath and a fax machine, eager to send his wise words to my mortgage company.