The Death of Service

dance of death

photo c/o Zaqarbal

Following Dad’s death, I’m starting to tidy up some loose ends. I’m not used to dealing with the vagaries of quite so many companies at once, and I’m having some interesting customer experiences. Here are just a few:

I contacted EDF Energy because I wanted to take over the electricity supply payments at Dad’s place. After long waits on the phone I told EDF their existing bank mandate from Dad’s account would stop and I’d like to start to pick up the tab. And I gave them a meter reading. Two days later – they sent me a final bill into which they’d inserted a piece of marketing titled ‘How Will You Celebrate?’ Now I’m all for celebrating the life of dead friends and family, but come on EDF, that’s a marketing #fail. And they also sent me a sniffy letter saying I was now moved onto a crap (my word), higher priced (their words) tariff because I cancelled the bank mandate. #fail

I wrote a note to Credit Suisse advising them Dad has died and that in due course, I’ll be closing his deposit account. I sent them a certified copy of the death certificate and asked for it back as I need to show it to plenty of other companies too. Today I got a letter from Credit Suisse acknowledging receipt of the certificate and enclosing a bunch of claim forms. No certificate though. I called them up and was told ‘we don’t normally return those’. OK smarty pants, so how the hell else am I supposed to prove the fact of death to all the other companies then? I’m placed on hold for a while before being told ‘we’ll return it to you’. I should coco! #fail

BT has cancelled the phone line and broadband at Dad’s place promptly, I appreciate that. Then they send me a refund cheque made payable to a mystery character, neither me nor my father. So I called them up and after a ten minute wait I get told ‘sorry we made the cheque payable to the wrong person, please return it’. ‘How about I just shred it and you send me another one?’ I ask. But no. BT doesn’t trust me to destroy a cheque for £24 and furthermore because I want it to be made payable to me they now want to see a copy of Dad’s death certificate. BT are now wasting my time, and my money thanks to their mistake. #fail

It’s not all bad. British Gas have been fabulous. They have a dedicated bereavement team and every thing was switched over to me with no fuss and they have kindly offered to hold all the bills and keep the supply going while I sort probate of Dad’s estate. How thoughtful of you, Thanks! And Sutton and East Surrey Water have been simply fab. Easy to deal with, correct about everything. Spot on.

I don’t believe that any of these companies set out to deliver such a poor experience, and at the same time, in order to have front line service people doing such a poor job, something is wrong. It’s not just me taking hassle on board to manage this crap service, all these companies are incurring costs and wasted time too.

I’m not interested in blaming anyone, I have no interest in a departmental finger wagging contest. What I’d really like to see is closer links between HR and customer service and the customer so that we can have better conversations about how to make these things easier. For all of us, in all circumstances. Is that too much to ask do you think?


Stop Doing Dumb Things – In Pictures

At around 5.30 am on Wednesday morning I woke up and prepared to head off to Stop Doing Dumb Things – the unconference. Today was to be a rare, and for many a first chance, for HR and customer service professionals to come together and help strengthen the links between the employee and customer experience.

In my sleepy state I burned the toast to a frazzle so with my first dumb thing out of the way I headed off into the dark on an empty stomach. Thankfully when I arrived in Vauxhall The Madeira Café was open and I had double egg on toast with bacon. It was delicious.

There’s already loads of content from the event online and I want to say a huge thank you to Martin Couzins for capturing so many pictures, words, interviews and songs and getting them online so quickly. Leonie, one of our guests, talked about different learning styles and how different people communicate in different ways. One size does not fit all. There will be more content and feedback to follow over the next days and weeks, for now I wanted to share with you one learning style, the artwork that Tim Casswell and his team created for us on the day. I’ve included the briefest of descriptions below each picture and you can listen to Tim’s interpretation of this here

SDDT Frame One
Setting the Scene

This first picture is about setting the scene for the day, gathering people’s expectations.

SDDT Frame Two
Distilling words and scribbles and ideas as the day began to emerge

We ran a World Café to help set the day up. Many ideas and thoughts and feelings were expressed. We’re here to try something different. Fear and trust and freedom to express and a whole bunch of other things caught our eyes, hearts and minds.

SDDT Frame Three
Feedback from more detailed conversations

After the World Café people split up and talked about things in more detail. Communication, Value and measurement, Fear and trust, What and why of engagement, What can I do?

What works?

After lunch we spoke about, what works? We could and maybe should have teed this up in the run in to the event. By that I mean just asked guests to think about when and where they’ve seen good stuff going on. The importance of lunching together, to bond and share ideas came up and whenever possible, the importance of face to face dialogue. And when not possible, try skype, or video. And when not possible try the telephone. Use email as a last resort. We struggled to get lots of examples – I think we need to review and come back to this and gently develop it further.

How did the day appear to you?

This last picture was drawn rapidly at the end of the day. Subjects were suggested and Tim put them together in the moment. Some instant reflections on a challenging, useful, enjoyable and emotional day.

Huge thanks to everyone who encouraged, supported, attended, co-created and tweeted the day along. I feel so fortunate and sincerely humbled and motivated to know you.

There will be more to follow including feedback from guests, and more content summaries. For now – any observations and thoughts based on what you see here would as always be appreciated.

Thank You

As many of you know, tomorrow I’m helping to make the Stop Doing Dumb Things unconference happen. Recent weeks, and particularly recent days have blurred as we (Peter Massey, Jonathan Wilson and I) have encouraged people to come along and made our preparations for the event. Last night we sent a note to all our guests saying thank you, we appreciate your booking. It is humbling and exciting that we’ve managed to gather such a diverse, interesting crowd.

Hundreds of people we know have helped encourage our guests to come along. To everyone who has read and retweeted stuff about the event, thank you. Every little nudge, reminder, and retweet helps, we appreciate it.

To the fine group of #connectinghr people I met with last week to share and develop unconference ideas, thank you. I’m conscious that was a stressful day for me, and my behaviour fell well short of what I expect of myself. In the heat of a passionate conversation I lost my temper and shouted at a friend. Sorry Mervyn. I re-learned a very valuable lesson, be mindful of others. Thank you folks for putting  up with me.

Carole and Keira have supported and encouraged me throughout the planning for tomorrow. Steadfastly. We’ve had a lot of laughs and a few tears along the way. Such inspiration, thank you.

I’m off to load up the Stop Doing Dumb Things wagon and begin carting supplies to the venue, I’ll see you later. Tomorrow is going to rock. Thank you.