Getting a full view of your customer can be like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box. If you have systems that don’t update, or disparate databases that are not current, then it’s nearly impossible to understand the complete picture – which can get you in real trouble with your customers.
Several years ago, I got tired of dealing with a big provider of cellular phone service, so I turned to a low-cost competitor that allotted a percentage of sales to benefit nonprofit organizations selected by the customer. For instance, if I had a $39.35 bill, I could round up the amount to the next dollar, and that small amount would be routed to the nonprofits on my list.
So, I signed up, but soon found that they could never tell me how much I owed. I’d get a message that the bill was due, for example that I owed $97.06, but when I went online to pay, the bill would read $110.27. Perplexed I’d call up and ask, “Which amount do I owe?”
We would go around, and around, and around. They would argue with me even though what I saw on the web-based customer portal was not what they had on their customer service rep’s portal – both views were pulled from their own systems.
Soon, I would finally surrender, “Okay, okay I don’t care anymore what the amount really is, just tell me what to pay.” They would respond, “Why don’t you pay what we see on our screen, not what you see on your screen.” I’d give them my credit card number and believe the bill was finally paid. But then I’d get a late notice. They finally lost me as a customer.
Later, I discovered a chat room about their company and its services, and found out the “disparate invoice issue” was a huge problem. They were losing customers right and left. And the unfortunate part of this story was that all of those customers were like me: they wanted to move away from the standard fare of wireless phone providers and do something for others in the process. But we all jumped ship because they couldn’t tell us what we owed them on a monthly basis. Incredible but true.
In the end it cost me a small fortune to pay the disconnect fees with the mainstream carrier I was using to get into the new service, and it was all for naught.
In fact, I thought the savings I would make would pay for the new carrier, but when I couldn’t reconcile the bills, I had to return to my former carrier, which I didn’t want to do at all. But with no systems to accurately update my data, I was done and will never, ever go back to that low-cost, altruistic carrier. I simply don’t trust they will ever have a system that can accurately show me what I really owe.
Having a more than one view of the customer is an all-too-common and mostly avoidable problem. Learn more about this and other pitfalls in Aria’s recent e-paper, “Recurring Revenue Success: Five Common Pitfalls to Avoid.”
Aria could have easily fixed their issue.
– Marie Martin, Aria Systems