Growth5 Blog

Monday, March 16, 2009

Programmed Frustration

This is a story that illustrates a simple lesson: NEVER assume that the people who design your CRM systems know anything about customers, relationships or management.

I recently logged into a reservation system of a major hotel empire. I punched in the hotel I wanted, the dates, my preference for bed type, my personal information, my credit card number, AARP number, and hotel "membership" number. Of course, none of this was on a single "page." The system carefully digested each "bit" of information, then whirred and buzzed and re-displayed all the information, asking me to confirm each step. Finally, it displayed everything and then allowed me to hit the "purchase" button.

Click.

Instantly, a message appeared informing me that there was a problem and I should call an 800 number. So I did. Of course, I had to work my way through a phone tree before I talked with what could euphemistically be described as a customer service representative.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Our system is down. We're hoping it will be back up in an hour."

"What about all the information I entered?"

"I'm sorry, you'll have to re-enter it," he said.

Now, boys and girls, let's think about this for a minute. Why wouldn't the CRM experts design a system smart enough to tell you it was down before you enter the data? Indeed, what CRM genius would design a system so stupid that it makes you call a person -- just to tell you it was down? And why would you -- or anybody in his right mind -- enter the data AGAIN, since you'd never know until you were finished if the system got any of it?

Well, that's CRM -- but it's certainly not customer relations management.

I picked up the phone, called the hotel, and talked with a human at the front desk.

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