Month: August 2012

Guest Post : Have I Got Your Attention Now?

Admit it.  As consumers, we’ve all felt frustration . . . the confusing IVR, the long hold, the uncaring support agent, the seemingly Draconian rules that cost time and money.   It’s amazing more people don’t take to violence.  But sometimes they do.

Her name is Mona Shaw, a 79 year old with a heart condition.  She is a nice lady and serves as secretary of the local AARP, belongs to a square-dancing club and takes in strays for the local animal shelter. You wouldn’t consider her tops on the list of people pre-disposed to violent action.  But her phone service had been out for a week and no one seemed to care. Helpless rage . . . we’ve all felt it.

Ignored too often for too long and armed with a hammer, she visited the local office walking to the front of the line passing other waiting customers.  Leaning over the counter, Hammer Lady” started destroying office equipment. Once the damaged had been done, Hammer Lady asked the frightened customer service employees, “Have I got your attention now?”

Picture Courtesy :

Everyone has a little Hammer Lady in them. Scary thought. Luckily, more people don’t act in such dramatic ways. But the hammer of an emotional rant via social media can cause even more damage.  We didn’t we learn about her story in social media. The story found traction old school via CBS News, the Washington Post, and Dr. Phil, among others. To be fair, the story was extended via social media once it played in print and broadcast.
This quaint little story about a quaint elderly lady reminds us that today’s customers are less likely to stay silent and simply go away. They are emboldened to take action, often rash irrational action. It may be a rant to a neighbor. It might be letter to the president. It might be a Facebook-ignited wildfire. And in some cases it just might be a hammer.

These random acts of frustration happen when traditional means have failed.  Here’s the point. The best way to minimize the impact of frustrated customers “going toolbox” is to make your traditional customer service channels work better. But recognizing you can’t please 100% of the customers 100% of the time, what can you do?

Give customers their own hammer.

I’m totally serious. Tell them exactly how they can get your attention if traditional channels don’t render satisfaction. That’s better than an irate customer lighting the fuse with a mad tweet. Get control by giving control.  You may be thinking, “If I give customers hammers they will use it to beat us up.”   Many fear giving such a tool to customers undermines the integrity of standard customer service processes. “They will use the hammer instead of calling our regular people.”

The hammer is something to be used when the system fails rather than instead of the system. So when giving customers “their own hammer” it is important to include instructions: “please use this hammer if you do not find satisfaction through our normal channels.” Key word is ‘if.’ Indeed, the normal channels need to have integrity as the best and easiest way. In many ways, a hammer encourages normal service to be better.

Perhaps the hammer needs a less violent name. How about panic button, emergency alarm, or circuit breaker?   If your organization believes in the voice of the customer, doesn’t it make sense to make sure the customer has a voice?  And if they have a voice wouldn’t you rather they were engaged directly with you rather than the “open microphone” of social media?

Gary Lemke

Gary Lemke (@lemke) is Chief Customer Advocate at CRMAdvocate where he blogs about the customer experience, CRM, and the Contact Center.  Join the discussion by visiting

Guest Post : What Process Means To A Customer

In my Process consulting experience of 7 years to a Customer, who is one among the Top 15 most respected companies in the world, I learnt a few things about what a Customer expects a Process to do or not to do. Will try to share some of that learnings here.

Your Family & Friends are giving you a birthday party about which you were not aware. Guess what they will yell, once you open the door, “Surprise!!”. Well, that is the word a customer does not want to hear from a process.

Case A: A process is well stabilized and works so smoothly that the customer ignores all the notifications he gets from that system. They all will be redirected ‘somewhere’ by a rule. Here the customer totally knows what is happening in the process.

Case B: A process which has lot of problems. Nothing works perfectly. Here also the customer ignores all the notifications, because there is no point in checking those.

Interestingly, I was supporting both these type of processes at one time. But the question is when will he become surprised? When the quality of process in Case A goes bad. Right? So, no Surprise!

Transparency is another key word. Whether it is a complex system or a simpler workflow, the customer would want to see the transperant process. No hidden algorithms / calculations which will give him surprise later on. So everything needs to be clear, documented procedures which leads to the next expectation, that is KISS : keep it short and simple.

In my projects, whether it is a new electronic document or a workflow screen, I had to give explanation for each and every field, each and every click, to make the customer understand that nothing is extra there and it could not be simplified further. SubRule for this requirement is that there should not be repetitive work or task in the process.

OK. Now the process is created, no surprise there, its transperant, simple and stabilized over a period of time. Is that it? No. they would like to have Value additions out of it.

That means enhancements / simplifications. What can be done better? How to improve the process? Can we integrate this with some other process / system? Here comes the metrics/measures, surveys/feedback from the users etc. through which the issues in the processes are found, analyzed and improved. This will be an ongoing project for the process team.

Let me finish with a quote once told by my Client: “I will be doing my business activity in a normal manner. Your Process should run in the background and help me do my work effectively. Dont ask me to do anything extra for the sake of Process”.

Sathya Narayanan T. V.

 Sathya Sathya Narayanan T.V. is a Quality Assurance expert specializing in CMMi, Six Sigma & ISO 9000 standards. Working for a Software organization, he has lent his process consulting services to GE Capital, USA for the past seven years.

Oracle Open World @ Social Media

The Biggest Oracle community event, OOW, “Oracle Open World” is going to start soon. Oracle has kick started the Social Media channels for this event. Here is a collection for you to use, to keep track of what’s up with this mega event!

Facebook :

Twitter :

Hashtag : #oow

LinkedIn :

Instagram :

Pinterest :