Monday, January 05, 2009

Two Approaches

Back in November, Seth Godin wrote about a frustrating experience almost all of us have shared. You call customer service, navigate a long sequence of touch-tone prompts, only to be informed that the office is closed. In Godin's case, he endured nine prompts.

If a typical product manager or business analyst presided over the development of this telephone navigation system, I can imagine how it went.

"Let me talk to your subject matter experts (SMEs)."

"What are the departments a customer might need to contact?"

"Let's draw a chart showing the different paths through the phone system."

Contrast this approach with the following focus on real requirements. The product manager or business analyst converses with customers and customer support to understand the problems that they are trying to solve and avoid by calling support. The problems don't just include the reason they call support in the first place. They also include potential problems with support itself.

Among the problems that customers want to avoid are:
  1. Spending a long time to resolve an issue.
  2. Expending a lot of energy (by pressing a lot of buttons or having to talk a lot).
Armed with knowledge of true customer challenges, the product manager or business analyst formulates metrics corresponding to these problems:
  • It shall take an average of no more than X seconds for a customer to resolve issue Y.
  • Outside of support hours, it shall take no more than X gestures (button presses, voice commands, etc.) for a customer to be informed that the office is closed.
These metrics are off the top of my head and no doubt could use some refinement. But the point is that the frustrating customer experience Godin described is a result of a requirements failure, a failure to understand and formulate in measurable terms the problems the customer wishes to solve and avoid.

2 comments:

Craig Brown said...

Good point.

Another performance imension would be completeness of the transaction.

Many many mny customer calls end up with a customer hving to call back to try to get the issue resolved a second time.

Rework numbers I have encounterred usually start in the 30-40% range (sometimes more) when companies start measuring it.

lena said...

Thank heavens for my (UK) bank, www.firstdirect.com. Always pick up the phone after 1-2 rings. They constantly score high in user ratings even though their website is just about average.

(don't work there just thrilled when a CRM strategy really works)