Friday, November 12, 2010

Undercover boss? Self-delusional boss.

David, David, David.

"I do ring our numbers. People will often say: 'Have you ever rung 132200?' And yes I do. I am a mystery shopper, a mystery customer," he says in an exclusive interview with The Australian.
The experience is not always a pleasant one. Thodey admits to be "greatly disappointed" at being personally on the receiving end of poor customer service. But he is only one of thousands who put up with it everyday. And it is a problem he is determined to fix.

Determined to fix, or determined to kludge up?  Or determined to persevere with long enough in the hope that people will begin to accept it?

One example he gives is poor customer service from the call centres. "Why is that? Is it because the people don't care? Is it because the systems aren't good enough. Or are we setting the metrics the wrong way in terms of how they are incentivised and motivated? It could be one or all three. So you need to spend time to make sure that if you are going to put solutions in place that you are really getting to the right issue," he says.

And this is where the problem truly lies - in the belief that it's a fixable issue under the current system of offshoring.  I don't care who if you're doing the job in Calcutta, Mumbai, Dehli or Manila.  It won't matter how good the systems are you give them.  How well you motivate them won't make the slightest difference, and certainly paying more isn't going to result in any improvement.

The fundamental, base, can't-get-away-from-it problem is that offshoring customer contact centres doesn't work.  From a language, cultural, communication and integration point of view, the idea is fundamentally flawed.

Hope you're reading this, David - fundamentally flawed.  Those words means that no matter how much you patch, kludge, adjust and make allowances for the system, its never going to work properly.  The only thing you can acheive is to gradully lower the expectations of the customer base to the point where they become resigned to it.

If you think that getting the customers to stop complaining is the same as actually solving the source of the complaint, then I congratulate you on a magnificent piece of self-delusion.

While the mantra of the company and Thodey is definitely upbeat these days, unfortunately for me it doesn't ring true at all.  I sat through a roadshow presentation from my 3-up manager some weeks ago where Thodey's message was all but brainwashed into us.  We're going to fix this. It can be done.  We're going to find a way.  We will improve.  Heaven forbid, the bloke might have actually believed it.  He might just be a good presented.  He may well be a good bullshit artist, or he might have been drinking the kool-aid himself.  Either way, the message was flowing - unfortunately I think the staff have had enough in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

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