Is Your System Good for “Nothing”?
“Let me get my supervisor”. These five words can illicit fear in even the most seasoned of customers; and with good reason. The brief moments of conversation between any front line responder and a “higher up” is the point of “limbo” in many customer experiences. It’s the make or break moment for the company and the customer, and often times could mean the difference between repeat business and lost business. It is the moment when you are either going to be delighted by a thoughtful fix, or frustrated by red tape. Many organizations suffer from a complicated web of bureaucracy, leaving many of their first contact employees powerless to assist customers in a meaningful way. This type of “system” doesn’t make sense from either perspective as it alienates customers and leaves valuable personnel powerless.
For a show so famously known for being about “nothing” Seinfeld is rife with examples of mundane yet supremely frustrating customer service examples. In the above video Jerry and Elaine are having a typical experience at a car rental company; they “reserved” a car that is no longer available. The agent offers to speak with her supervisor (to see if anything can be done), only to return with a fake apology and no real answers. The “reservation” system apparently doesn’t actually guarantee a “reserve” on the car requested. In this case, not only does the company fail to properly handle the transaction, they also appear to do nothing to fix a reservation system that doesn’t make reservations!
How many times have you showed up at a hotel only to discover this same fact about the room you book months earlier? Hotels will often upgrade or provide some other sort if “comp” for the inconvenience but it always leaves me wondering why this type of error even occurs in the first place. A system which doesn’t actually achieve the very purpose it was designed for is pointless at best and downright stupid the rest of the time.
So, watch, laugh, and ask yourself: does my system make sense?