Sacrificing The Customer Experience
At what expense do the decision's made in your business affect the customer experience? Fast growth in business most likely will develop a need to expand the infrastructure to support the increased customer demand. Recently there has been a significant decline in service availability with a software company in the Health & Wellness market. The reason for the decline appears to be from rapid growth, and what seems to be poor planning and the lack of investment to the infrastructure to support the growth. They are a business that has been perceived to put the customer experience at the bottom of the priority list and created a situation which is increasingly getting worse, at the customer expense. Customer's are paying good money to use their software and to make matters worse, they increased their fees to offset the burden of rising IT expenses. Instead of providing better performing and reliable service, the service has declined. Within a two month time frame, two outages occurred lasting several hours. The service they offer is a business management system, which supports scheduling management, time management, attendance tracking, payroll, and online sales. Online sales in this industry is the majority method of payment. When their service is down for long periods of time, their customers are losing revenue. With paying higher fees there is no sight of better performance or availability. It has me thinking, the advancement of technology, the advancement of knowledge capturing and usage, the maturity in systems and service management are still failing our customers because of profit margins being the driving force of decisions. I am not implying businesses shouldn't be profitable, I'm referring to the lack of concern to meeting customer commitments in order to expand on profit.
This Wellness software company is a good example of trying to increase the profit margin at the expense of their customers. Most customers do not realize this, however those of us in the technology fields understand the points I'm making in this article. If there are no improvements made quickly to stop the outages, I'm predicting a decline of customers for this company. There are other savvy software providers in this market with more robust and reliable services being offered at lower costs. Even at this point of decline in service, customers won't care to pay the same or a little more somewhere else to a company that cares about their customers profitability as much as they do their own.
I'm writing about a real situation happening today. The outage occurred this morning. I became aware of the outage around 9:00 am EDT. As I'm writing this, the service is still out (note time 1:32 pm EDT and there is no update on when it will be restored). As a small business owner and customer of this company, my business is off line losing online sales and possibly attendance to classes as no one can access the schedule or make purchases. Therefore, my customers perception of my business is negatively impacted as well. The big difference is the software company's profit margin is intact during the outage and my business is not. To a small business any loss is significant.
When I called the company to communicate my points of view, the responses were "canned" responses "engineering is working on it. feel free to use out system status board for updates.we don't have a time when service will be restored". Hmm, clearly there are no fail-over's in place or backups as the entire US customer base is down. So where did the additional revenue go from the increase in fees customers are paying. Fees were increased more than six months ago. Plenty of time to install a fail over to avoid the reoccurring outages. The company this size has many financial options to rectify the source of the failures. However, as a customer there doesn't seem to be any in place since the outages and service issues are ongoing for months. I understand the outage is from faulty server or servers. I do realize services and technology fail sometimes. But, when you know the source of a problem which has potential to take down your entire customer base and choose not to invest to rectify it, well then the blame is on poor decisions or the practices used to manage the service.
This experience has me on my thought box once again about non-existent care and interest in the customer's experience. In my opinion, the biggest mistake this company is making is increasing fees before providing any improvements to the customer, nor were there any credits offered to monthly billing to compensate for the downtime. I guess I have to ask for it. In my experience as an ITSM expert and leader, these situations are easily avoided with proper use of knowledge, forecasting and planning to implement better customer oriented practices. It's frustrating as a consumer to have this knowledge and experience because you know first hand how easily it can be avoided with better service management practices in place.
I'm sharing this story today for awareness that when you make the line in the sand all about the bottom line profit margin there will be an impact to customer service in some way. Eventually bad decisions for profit catch up with you and your business. When the line in the sand is about meeting customer commitments then your customer base is satisfied. There are two metrics which are telling to how satisfied your customers are; "service reliability" and "up time". The more the services are reliable and available the happier customers are.
This is written from my personal experience and listening to other small business owners using this company's service. I'm in no way bashing them, but I do hope the message is being received positively to rectify this situation and put the customer first. I also hope it raises awareness for other businesses to re-evaluate their own IT practices when it comes to servicing their customers.
@MINDBODY, Inc. #customerexperience #itsm #customersatisfaction @edifyIT
A Little About Me •ITSM Executive Advisor and Founder of edifyIT, LLC. ITSM Professional experience 27 years specializing in areas of IT Service Management, IT Governance & Strategy, IT Compliance & Security, Business Transformation, Support Services, Infrastructure Management, and implementation methodologies (ITIL, ISO, CoBIT). ITIL V3 Expert Trained, CobiT, ISO 20000, 27001,9000, 9001, Sarbanes Oxley, GxP, e-Tom, Dev/Ops, NIST. Global Business Transformation & Quality Performance Improvement My work includes- ITSM Implementation, ITSM Solutions, ITSM Process Design, IT Governance, IT Operations