Children are expensive. Modern children more so, since they seem to have requirements for all sorts of electronic devices that have replaced the somewhat innocent desires of my childhood – to be able to be in charge of my own radio?!

I spent a good couple of hours troubleshooting a fault in child number 2’s tablet and eventually decided it was hardware. Thankfully the thing is under warranty, and I advise her to hang tight for a few days and we’ll sort it out. That night (yes that very night) she returns home with a great big crack through the screen (someone else stepped on it). The frustration!!

So we do some research online and it looks like it might still be covered; we call Microsoft and yes, they say we can get that sorted. So forms are filled and off the tablet goes for repair.

We get a helpful notification email, letting us know that the tablet has arrived. The next email explains that it’s been unpacked, is scheduled for service, is moving up the queue and so on. We feel very well informed and like it’s progressing. It takes a couple of weeks for the process and finally we get the email that we really want. It’s coming back!

Great! Fabulous! Child number 2 is excited. A customer experience that is seamless and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

But hold on. When the returned parcel is opened it has on it a note (high tech I know) explaining that the damage is NOT covered by warranty and if we would like it repaired we can go through the whole process again and pay for it.


No one could pick up a phone or send an email to alert us to this BEFORE sending it back?!

Deep breath! Just get it dealt with.

Returning to the site to fill in the form again. But guess what? In the amazing efficiency and wisdom of this process the job ticket is still open, so we a new request can’t be made. Some more waiting and stuffing around and finally we have paid to have the item replaced.

Rant end.

What’s a good balance between process and people?

We have spoken before about returns processes and how important it is to get the #people and #process part of any returns or after sales service right.

It’s a chance to re-affirm with the customer that they made a good choice shopping with you. How many times have I heard a provider recommended because of the way they handled a problem or dealt with a fault? It really impresses customers if their complaint is dealt with fairly and quickly.

The biggest gripes with the experience above are;

  1. the emotional rollercoaster (disappointment) of thinking it was handled and done with only to find it was nothing like that and
  2. the incredible inefficiency for both the customer and the provider in handling everything twice.

Shattered expectations are worse than no expectations; manage the customer expectations at key points in the process

We are very focused on good #process. Most people just want things to be as simple and painless as possible, especially when dealing with a product or service that has not gone to plan.

Unmet expectations can leave anyone feeling a bit flat and whether these are life expectations or service and warranty expectations the flat feeling is hard to beat.

Automation of communication and keeping customers in the loop is really helpful (in moderation). Automation gone WAY TOO far can not only appear impersonal but can give customers the totally wrong impression about how things are progressing.

It’s unlikely, that every part of my experience was handled by a machine. Do I draw from that that the person who stuck the note to the tablet just didn’t care enough to pick up the phone (or send a non-automated email) to offer to fix it for a price?

Creating a good process takes some thought. Re-examine it periodically.

What a waste of time (on both sides) the courier will have been back and forth 4 times by the time this is completed and it has now taken approximately 8 weeks to get something that should have been a pretty simple transaction completed.

When you really start examining the cost of this kind of double handling it adds up. Reviewing and improving businesses process is an ongoing effort. It takes practice and commitment to keep improving. Just as product designers strive to make their #products easier and more intuitive to interact with, lighter, smarter, faster and better so too process improvement adds to the bottom line of a business.

That’s why it’s important to build review points into the calendar year. End of season, end of financial period, after Christmas or whatever the trigger point is for your business, consider investing time in ongoing examination of process through your business to see where you can improve.

We work with businesses to help them improve processes and make the most of systems. Contact us to chat some more about any process that isn’t working for you or your customers.