Cultivating Positive Relationships Customer Service General Marketing Kudon'ts Opinion

 Technology sloppiness, poor due diligence ruin customer service

We’re being assaulted by technology over-communication, poor due diligence, and sloppiness—much of it coming from inconsistent monitoring and attention to detail. This afflicts many tech sectors, including “CRM” apps, “customer service” chatbots, and IT/customer support staffs unable or unwilling to pay attention.

A former telecom tech specialist lamented to me that many apps get rolled out without adequate testing or attention to detail. As a result, many of them create unnecessary headaches for consumers, already inundated with poor communication.

In the last couple weeks alone, I’ve experienced three infuriating and all-too-familiar tech-related snafus.

The first involved a healthcare specialist. Wanting to simply reschedule a routine screening, I wound up having to make a dozen phone calls to connect. When I finally did, there were delays in finding a new date because of the brand new scheduling system that evidently had gone live that morning.

Given that it was a Monday morning, I wonder why it didn’t undergo more testing and training to ensure everyone’s familiarity prior to prime time. However, I shrugged it off somewhat…until the next snafu. The scheduler first said it would be one date. When I acknowledged acceptance, he confirmed a different date.

Then, to ensure no further miscommunications, I had to ask three times if this was a firm appointment (not subject to an over-booking problem). When he finally answered the question, the final confirmation was yet another date. Needless to say, what should have taken me a couple minutes max wound up wasting more than a half-hour between repeated attempts to get through, scheduler problems with a new system, and evidently inattention by the scheduler as well.

Fortunately, this was a longtime provider. Otherwise, I well might have questioned their quality control in general given the slipshod way this was handled.

Oh, but we’re not done. As part of my extended on-hold experience, I got to listen to the promos—one of which was the new online scheduling system. Thinking this might negate the need for live phone interaction, I went searching for it…in vain. When I finally connected with the scheduler, I was told the online system wasn’t yet live. Clearly frustrated, I asked, “Then why is it being promoted?” Again, somewhere/someone didn’t pay attention, didn’t connect the dots, and didn’t follow through.

A second healthcare experience directly targets a clearly flawed app. Having scheduled an appointment with a new provider, I soon got bombarded with email/text notifications and account signup requests. Somebody down in Texas with my last name also got some—technically a HIPAA violation.

Fortunately, the other Lusky was nice enough to let me know. Further investigation showed that my email address had been mis-entered into one app system. To the credit of the admin/front office staff, they did their due diligence to correct the error. Unfortunately, one app protocol didn’t get the message. Exactly one month later, the Texas Lusky got two more auto-generated emails. While hopefully the staff will finally get it corrected this time, this is inexcusable. Again, someone wasn’t doing their job.

My new Texas friend wound up having to spend more time dealing with the issue—as did I. Given that the new doc sadly lacked  “bedside manner,” I’d already decided this likely wasn’t a good fit. The multiple tech glitches sealed the deal. This was a clear customer service failure.

The third experience involves a home repair service used to hire a plumber. While I received an excellent recommendation and subsequently hired the company, a barrage of automated communications after the fact soured my views.

While the initial round of emails, texts, and phone calls for the plumber seemed a bit over the top, I acknowledge that it made me well aware of the options. So, I went along.

It was weeks later when, following up on an automated email, I inquired about typical “handyman” pricing for future reference. In the feedback form, I stated clearly that this was only an attempt to gather information—not an immediate need.

Despite this, I was bombarded over the next hour with two follow-up phone calls, emails, and texts. Incensed, I complained to a customer service rep, who opted me out of phone calls and texts. (I could have done this myself, but my initial thought was to be all-inclusive so that communication would be assured.)

The downside of this form of “customer preference” protocol is that there was no room to delineate individual choices other than form of communication. If they had offered more detailed options, I would have explained how often (not just how) I wanted their outreach. And, I could have indicated whether or not I wanted any follow-up in situations such as this—where there was no immediate need or desire for further info beyond basic pricing.

Just as with so much in life, we tend to go too far one way and then swing the pendulum back too far in the other direction. Too little clear, consistent communication is being replaced in many arenas by over-communicating. Seemingly great automated communications platforms quickly fall apart if individuals get inundated with way more communication than they want.

While many people are now accustomed to—and accepting of—automated communication bombardment, I and I’m sure many others, aren’t.

It’s time to assess our preferences in detailed ways, then address them consistently, attentively, and accurately.


Mark Lusky Communications helps companies that honor customers, workers, communities, the environment, and stakeholder governance tell their story to the world. Interested? Let’s talk.

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