22 Jul Customer service call centers: Hewitt and Bank of America win BSD awards
CHICAGO – With all the talk about creating best practices in system designs, why are simple benefits hotlines as well as customer service centers are so user-unfriendly?
All companies like to tout their J.D. Powers Quality Awards on customer service and quality of products as well as any other recognition for quality and best practices. It is a big thing to focus on how the organization is “recognized for their excellence within the industry”. Sometimes, companies fall very short of quality and the executives are kept in the dark as to how inept their quality of customer service really is.
Too many rely on problem resolution statistics then true resolution of issues to measure the quality of the process.
Press 1 to start the maze
It is very easy to spot a system that is poorly designed. These are ones which request information and a lot of typing only to get to an agent who asks you for the same information. If you have called certain utilities and banks, you have hit that type of great system design.
Type in your account number. You type it in and when you get to the live agent, they ask you for your account number. What good was the automation upfront to collect the information?
This is such a huge topic when it comes to talking to people that are fed up with automated systems that seem to be designed to frustrate you into hanging up instead of getting you to customer service to resolve your issue.
Winners of the Backwards System Design (BSD) awards for this year include Bank of America and Hewitt for poor systems design. Best practices? Never heard of them!! And God help you if you hit a wrong number. Go back to question one.
When you call Hewitt to get a question on benefits, you go through a maze of questions that you must answer in order to get to someone live that may be able to help you. It is really frustrating after you have spent several minutes on the phone typing in your life history to then find out you need the “special” password.
What if you don’t know what your password is? Then you have to find out what it is. What if it is your spouse trying to find something out and after typing through a maze of questions, they are asked to type in the secret password? What password is that? Call the spouse who then goes through the same maze only to find out they were never given a password.
Hewitt customer advocacy agents seem more anxious to get you to release the issue so they can clear it in their system than actually resolving the problem you called about. That would be like going to the emergency room and getting processed through it very fast even though you never saw a doctor. You would still be sick at the end (or bleeding), but they would point out how efficiently they got you from the waiting room to the examining room to walking out the door.
The next time you showed up and said, “Let’s make sure I see the doctor”, you would go through the same process again and have to go back again because you never saw the doctor.
“But look how efficiently you were whisked through the process,” would be the observation of the Hewitt advocate. Now could we close this issue?
Is it identity theft?
What would you think?
Someone got a letter with a copied (black and white, not original blue and red) letterhead of Bank of America in a Fidelity envelope. Those are two different institutions. The letter said to call the 800 number to get information for a retirement account. Looks fraudulent but you decide to call up.
Bank of America has a great employee benefits 800 number. The first thing it asks you to do is type in your social security number. Sorry, but something that important should be asked by a live agent, especially when you get a Bank of America letterhead in a Fidelity envelope.
With all the fraud and identity theft going on, getting a different letterhead in an envelope which asks you to call this 800 number which first asks you to type in your social security number, is not a candidate for a best practices award. It is more of a candidate for a BSD Award as anyone concerned about protecting their identity is not going to offer up their social security onto an automated system where you are not 100% sure it is a legit number.
Where did they find these system designers?
Hewitt and Bank of America CEOs, please call me to pick up your awards. I am sure you want to announce them to your people and put them in your next batch of commercials. BSD awards are hard to come by, but both of you can rest assured you are getting one with a triple crown recognition of design flaws, call center flaws and of course, executive cluelessness, with distinction.
Can we close this issue out?
NO. Not until I am satisfied.
Some call centers must have metrics that measure how long a trouble ticket or benefits issue is open because the agent is pressing more to get the issue closed then they are trying to actually resolve the issue. This seems to be prevalent in outsourced tech help lines as well where they want to close out the issue as soon as possible to keep their statistics crisp and resolution measurements short. The only thing wrong with that is that they are focusing on the wrong part of the problem. Resolve the issue – not the trouble ticket.
Technology should work for you. In the case of Hewitt and Bank of America, their customer service approach is bad. Maybe they can call the Tire Rack to see how a good call center processes calls and handles questions with live agents who get the products delivered on time.
I wonder what the CEO of the Tire Rack makes compared to the CEO of Bank of America or Hewitt. At least the CEO of the Tire Rack can say he never got a BSD Award.
Carlinism: Some help desk centers and benefits centers have lost sight of quality and have replaced it with expediency.
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James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and is president of Carlini & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at carliniscomments.com.
James Carlini has been asked to speak at the upcoming Department of Homeland Security’s Workshop on Aging Infrastructure in New York City later this month.
This column previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.