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“Not-so-great” customer experience (or, when the back office lets you down)

Not too long ago, I posted a blog entry about how Briova used a simple but high-impact approach to provide a great customer experience.  Here’s the post:  Delighting customers doesn’t always require a huge investment and massive effort. The customer was me, and here’s what I liked:

 

A simple note goes a long way

 

I just talked with Briova yesterday, and once again it was another pleasant customer experience. But recently, I got an unpleasant surprise that doesn’t match the way they typically operate. It’s a splendid example of how the front office can deliver excellent customer experiences while in parallel, the back office undoes all the goodwill accumlated over time. At Digital Clarity Group, we call that making sure the digital outside and the digital inside are integrated and operate in an end-to-end fashion.

Here’s what happened: I was going through a stack of mail after returning from vacation and came across a letter from Briova (see below). I opened it to learn that I owed them $832.82. That was a shock. Worse, the letter was a statement (not an invoice) and I had never seen a bill from them. The statement had no details about why I owed them the money. I didn’t think it was valid, but you never know if prescription drug prices take a big jump, so I wanted the details about all this money I supposedly owed them.

 

 

When I called the customer service representative to ask about it, she wasn’t sure. After investigating it for a minute or so, she came back on the line to say that it was a mistake and that I owed $80.00.  I had two questions: 1) what had gone wrong and 2) what was the $80.00 for? She couldn’t explain why the mistake had happened, but she corrected the amount owed.  She also couldn’t explain the $80.00 outstanding balance, although I later learmed it was an outstanding co-pay amount.

Does this mean I’ve soured on Briova? Not at all.  Everything I wrote in my first blog post is still true. But this real world story shows how easy it is for the front office to provide an outstanding experience , while at the same time, the back office is undoing all the good work through operational mistakes. This happens a lot more often than customer experience professionals realize, and usually it is caused by one or two culprits.  The first is data, where the front office and back office data are not integrated, so metaphorically, one hand does not know what the other is doing.  The second is process, when the processes are compartmentalized rather than end-to-end. The takeaway is that front office customer experience initiatives and back office operational excellence projects need to be better aligned, or your organization will be delivering “not-so-great” customer experiences if you aren’t careful.

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