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October 06, 2007

Customer Relationship Mismangment Revisited - Ellen Filipiak is Wasting a Good Opportunity

I haven't done one of these Tales From The Dark Side sagas of customer relationship mismanagement in a long while. Not that there's been a shortage of horror stories as there have been too many to mention. I've been just a little tied up lately with other stuff. But sometimes there's something that comes along that makes me take a little more notice.

A while back my buddy Paul Greenberg had a really bad customer experience with DirecTV. It was so bad that he devoted a series of blog entries to it, detailing the many attempts he made to actually reach someone who could take care of his issue. He even went so far as to keep a running clock tracking just how long it took DirecTV to fix the issue. He finally was able to reach someone who helped him get this handled. He connected with DirecTV's Sr. VP of Customer Care, Ellen Filipiak. I believe she was pretty new to the position, but she impressed Paul enough that he offered her an opportunity to write a regular article on his blog to chronicle her efforts to understand and rectify the problems people were having with customer service. Apparently Paul was not alone, as he heard from SEVERAL people who shared their horror stories with him.

I don't know if Ellen understands how great an opportunity this is as Paul has a loyal readership which includes a who's who in CRM industry, from analysts to execs at the biggest vendors, to many practitioners who read his books and attend his workshops. It would have been a great forum for her to talk honestly about why customers feel the way they do, share her own personal finding when visiting customer care centers, and share some of the plans for really improving the customer experience. Unfortunately, Ellen is blowing it. I've read all three of her entries, the latest coming out a few days ago. And I have to agree with Baylor University business professor Jeff Tanner's assessment:

"Overall, this just reads like more marketing schlock"

I couldn't have said it any better myself Jeff. Instead of using this platform to really connect with people about what's wrong with their current customer care operations and collaborating with the readers to work towards solutions to help customers feel more valued when the time comes for them to reach out for assistance, Ellen is using marketing spin to shift the conversation in a direction she feels more comfortable with. Well maybe it's uncomfortable to deal with the real problems in the beginning, but I bet customers would appreciate and respect that more than the bait and switch, bob and weave she seems to be doing. If that's her plan for using the platform Paul so graciously offered, it may be best if she stepped away from the blogoshphere for awhile and re-think this strategy. Sometimes silence may be a little better than words.

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