I had what I thought was a simple request.
Let me explain.
One of the nice perks of being on a certain level with American Express is gaining access to Regus business lounges throughout the world. A Regus card shows up in the mail and I use it! Not only is it a good co-working space, but they have offices everywhere. I’ve taken advantage of this perk when traveling, most recently in New York City.
So I was pleased when the perk was extended to my 360Connext teammate, Ryan. The only problem was the Regus card was sent to my business address in Illinois and Ryan lives and works in California. Here’s a perfect example of an easily overlooked minor moment in a customer journey which creates an unnecessarily negative nuisance for customers.
Being helpful is great, but not enough.
First, I called American Express. They were helpful as always, but directed me to Regus. As the helpful American Express rep looked up the phone number for Regus service, I flipped the card over and found a toll-free number for “reservations and additional information.” Aha! I confirmed it was the same number she was about to give me. And I called.
I, like everyone else, do a lot of my business online. I typically prefer a smooth digital experience to the unpredictable phone kind. However, this is where I need to reveal something. Several weeks ago, my family and I were involved in a serious car accident. We are lucky that it wasn’t worse but I did end up with a fractured hand. This means typing, computer work, and even texting are cumbersome to say the least. I’ve relied on my voice to actually produce content.
So when I called the number listed on the back of the card for service, I was perturbed to hear the recording greet me with instructions to email regarding any service at all. The email address is a long one. I decided to wait for a human. That human, while very nice, instructed me to email for my request. Please keep in mind all I’m asking is for them to send the card to the right address. I expressed my frustration and even said I had a broken hand. And while, again, he was kind and doing his best, the Regus rep was helpless.
Update: Total Communication Breakdown
So things got worse. Much worse. What started as a simple request turned into a month-long ordeal. I’d like to share some excerpts from the communications that followed. Please note: All our replies have been inline with the original message.
First, I was told the Regus card number was invalid, so I was asked to verify.
Erika: Thank you for your response. However, the BW membership number that you have provided seems incorrect. Can you check?
Since I was out of town, my assistant Jon asked if they could verify the Regus account using the AMEX card number. You won’t believe what followed!
Jon: We need to get the new Regus card out to our team member as soon as possible, but I do not have access to the actual card to check the membership number. Would it help if I were to provide the AMEX card number for reference?
Erika: The only account that we have for Mr. Jeannie Walters is below. Is this the account? Kindly confirm.
Jon: Yes- the above information is correct. However, it is Ms. Jeannie Walters, not Mr.
Dianne: (Fwd) Please be informed that I’ve sent an inquiry to resend the Amex card at [our business address in Illinois].
Kindly inform the client to expect the arrival within 28 working days.
Jon: Actually we do not need a new AMEX card, we just needed the Regus card sent to our team member in San Francisco. So I do hope Jeannie’s current AMEX card has not been cancelled. We need that!… Jeannie is actually going to try to activate the Regus card and send it to San Francisco herself. We will be in contact if there are further issues.
So we’re done. Case (painfully) closed, right?
Erika: Please be informed that contact name has been amended to Ms. Jeannie Walters before we send an inquire to resend the Amex card.
Are you kidding me!? Jon is a nice guy, but at this point his fangs were starting to show.
Jon: For the second time, we do not need a new AMEX card. The issue was never with the credit card itself and the name on the card is, and always has been, correct. Again, please do not send another AMEX!!! Please close the support ticket(s) and file under Epic Fail if possible, as we decided to take care of it on our own, lest we make our team member wait until 2015 for the Regus card. Thanks for trying, but no thanks. We’re done here.
So then, that’s it… Yeah!? We took care of it ourselves, no thanks to them. But wait, there’s more!
Dennis joins the party.
Dennis: Thank you for the clarification, we will be sending the Regus membership card of Ms. Walters to this address: [Ryan’s address in California] Please confirm the address to send the membership card.
Jon: No! Please do not sent any type of card! We took care of it ourselves. We no longer need your help. We don’t need anything else. We have what we need. We told you this already! PLEASE close out this support ticket.
We have not heard back since then, but Jon says he’s waiting for the next ridiculous exchange, from a fourth representative, regarding a ninth support ticket number.
So not only did they initially send Ryan’s card to the wrong address. These things happen, but:
- They were unable to verify an active account, and asked for information already provided.
- Though the problem was about the Regus card, communications were sent from Americas Businessworld with no mention of Regus in the subject lines.
- Several different reps got involved, each with a clouded and conflicting understanding of what was happening.
- They issued a new ticket number EVERY TIME we responded to the thread. There were eight of them!
- Multiple automatic responses including this piece of language: “Remember to quote your [ever-changing] ticket number in any correspondence, as this will assist us in responding in a more timely manner.”
- Through the process, the original request morphed into something we didn’t even need!
- Towards the end, it was clear none of the reps were actually listening.
What does this have to do with micromapping?
There’s a specific detail I find incredibly telling. The back of the Regus card has two numbers-one toll-free and one for international calls. There is no website. There is no email address. So when a customer like me follows directions I’m told I’m doing it wrong. When a customer like me is unable to access the channel they want me to accept, then I’m helpless.
We’ve been discussing micromapping a lot lately.
It’s our approach to taking customer journey mapping into deeper levels of understanding at specific points in the journey. Micromapping could help avoid customer frustrations like this one. Micromapping helps the organization and their people understand the many ways customers interact with their products, people and services. If we had been micromapping what it’s like to become a Regus Businessworld cardholder, we would have found this issue before customers did.
I do want to stress my experiences with Regus have been good. But as I sit here, the only return on my investment of time today is an automated email response telling me someone will endeavor to address my problem within 48 hours. This seems silly.
How well do you know your customer journey?
The funny thing is typically when we complete micromapping, our clients say they knew THAT was a problem but not that other thing. In this example, I bet they know 48 hours is a long time to make somebody wait for sending an email. But I bet they don’t realize that they are instructing their customers to use the wrong channel. And I bet they don’t realize that there is no wrong channel anymore. We’re living in a world that relies on multichannel access. And speaking of access, limiting your customers to one channel limits accessibility in a big way.