Stopping the buck has to begin somewhere

Want to stay in business? Think customer service before, good and bad. SEAN ADAMS

Sean Adams

By Sean Adams

In my last blog, I explored the world of customer service – both good and bad.

Ironically enough, an incident over the last couple of weeks has prompted me to return to the theme and at the same time, introduce you to the concept of the “digital black hole”.

First a confession. I own a BlackBerry. Have done for about six months, and I do find it a big help in running my business (but in my defence, I should add that I do not constantly check it in the company of others and I do turn it off at night).

Anyway, I recently decided to upgrade my email account with my web hosting company.

All good, until I realised that this upgrade had the unexpected side-effect of preventing me from receiving any emails on my BlackBerry.

But what was the cause of the problem? And did the cause lie with my web hosting company or with my BlackBerry service provider?

Good question, and one that I was able to ponder at length over the next six days as I became embroiled in a frustrating game of responsibility ping-pong.

Everyone I spoke to (once I’d finally “progressed in the queue” to reach a real live person) would “troubleshoot” my problem before concluding that the issue lay “at the other end”.

Eventually, six BlackBerry-less days later, I stumbled upon the right question to ask the right person and hallelujah, my problem was fixed in five minutes.

And this wasn’t the first time I had found myself stuck in a digital black hole. A few months earlier, a vigorous game of “it’s not our fault or responsibility” was played out between an LCD manufacturer and a TV aerial installation company, both keen to engage in the blame game and thus avoid sorting out my lack of a watchable TV signal.

As our lives become increasingly dependant on digital technology, we are likely to face more and more situations in which different applications have to be synchronised in order to work effectively with each other.

We, as mere customers, cannot be expected to know the intricacies of how each piece of technology works.

Often everything runs smoothly, but when problems do arise, that is where we need help. I believe that this presents an opportunity for marketers involved in the area of “convergent technology” to take the high ground when it comes to customer service.

Shift the focus away from just solving product problems to a more holistic approach of addressing customers’ issues, even if that means understanding some technologies that they are not directly responsible for.

As a customer, I am becoming pretty astute at being able to distinguish between those companies that will go the extra mile to solve my problems and those who can’t wait to get me off the line.

I know which companies will be receiving more of my business in the future.


Sean Adams founded his marketing advisory company The Seed in late 2000. Sean has had nearly 20 years advertising experience in Australia and Britain across a range of disciplines – research, planning, account management and media. Over that time he has worked with some of the world’s top advertising agencies, working with many of the world’s leading brands

To read more Sean Adams blogs, click here.



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