“Erm, I don’t know yet!”

I dont know yetThis short post is about receiving text messages from service organisations: Some are (or could be) useful, whilst many others are (ahem) ‘bullshit masquerading as customer care’.

I recently had to arrange an MRI scan. I’m getting old(er)…and so are my joints.

The initial mix up.

A medical consultant referred me for an MRI scan. She told me to expect an appointment within the next 4 – 6 weeks. Cool, that doesn’t sound too long.

I started to question things when I hadn’t heard anything after 10 weeks. I rang to chase it:

“Oh, sorry to hear that you haven’t heard from [the MRI service]. We sent the request through to them the very day that you saw your consultant. They must have ‘lost it’. I’ll send through a second request marked’ urgent’. Let me know again if you don’t hear from them.”

Making a booking

Thankfully, a member of the MRI service’s booking team rang me about a week later.

She asked me some clarifying questions, explained what would happen, gave me a few appointment slot options and I agreed to a day and time for next week. Excellent – an easy and friendly conversation. That was a good customer experience (though, please don’t ask me to give an NPS score!)

However, do you know that feeling when you put the phone down and think1:

“hmmm, I’ve hastily scribbled ‘Thursday at 9 a.m.’ down on my doodle pad next to me….I think that’s the slot that we agreed on….I hope I’ve got that right….I hope that’s what she put into her system.”

…and so what I really really really wanted was an immediate text (i.e. within minutes of ending the call) confirming the day, time and address for my scan. So simple, so easily done and so valuable.

They did send me a text. Here’s what it said:

“Hi Steve. If you need to move your appointment with [name of MRI service], please call [tel. number], thanks.”

Face palmAaaargh! That’s about as much use as a chocolate fire guard. It gives me no information of value. They have quite brilliantly engineered a near certain failure demand call from me – they’ve even given me the number to call!

So, I ring the number that they have so helpfully provided, and they confirm that, yes, I did have it right and, no, it wasn’t a problem me ringing to check – they get it all the time (operation face palm).

So that’s all well and good.

Two further texts

Time goes by and then, 24 hours before my appointment I get two (separate) text messages from the MRI service.

Here’s the first:

“Confirming your appointment with [name of MRI service] at [address] on [date], please arrive at [time]. Please phone [tel. number] if you have any queries.”

Brilliant. This is the exact text message that I wanted when I first booked. Now, don’t get me wrong – I like getting the above text the day before as a reminder…but AS WELL AS, not INSTEAD OF an initial confirmation text.

Now, I know that this blog post is totally about ‘first world problems’ and I’m really grateful for the access to the medical services that I have.  I mainly wrote this post because of the second text2 and to illustrate a point about it.

how did we doHere’s what the second text said:

“How was your recent experience with our booking team? Go to [URL].”

…and I thought “Erm, I don’t know yet…I haven’t had my scan!”

And why does this matter you might ask?

Well, I might turn up for my scan and:

  • they aren’t ready for me (perhaps there’s a huge queue); or
  • they might not have my information ‘in their system’ yet (e.g. because it hasn’t been passed on by another silo); or
  • they might have ‘double booked’; or
  • they might not have any record of my booking; or
  • they might not have informed me of something I needed to bring/wear/not wear or do/ not to do; or
  • …and on and on.

The text feedback request sent before I receive the service shows quite clearly that the organisation is trying to score a vertical silo (i.e. the booking team, and quite likely a specific person within) rather than caring about (let alone understanding) whether the horizontal service worked for the customer.

I care about ‘from my need through to its satisfaction’. I don’t care about the ‘booking team’ (sorry booking team, no offence meant).

The booking team can talk to me as friendly and efficiently as they want (which, no doubt, I would find agreeable) …but this makes up about 5% of the value of the interaction. I will only find out about the quality of my booking interaction when I come to have my scan.

Turning to the general point

I don’t mean to pick on the MRI service. It’s just the last example in a long line of service organisations sending out ‘surveys’ asking how well they did from a single interaction with me.

Whether it’s the bank, telecommunications, utility or insurance company…or even the local council.

The point is the same for ALL of them. I don’t really care about a contact, I care about whether you satisfied my need. These are totally different points of view.

In summary:

If you really want to improve your organisation, change your viewpoint from ‘inside out’ to ‘outside in’.

Addendum

Of course I had to go to the URL given to me in that last text to confirm my suspicions as to what I would find…and oh yes, regular blog readers have guessed it – they want me to give them a score from 1 through to 10 about whether I’d recommend them to my friends and family.

Ho hum.

Footnotes:

1. You might not be like this. However, I’m the sort of person where people (including my wife) deliberately ask me down the pub whether I locked the front door…just to see the doubt creeping across my face.

2. The rest is just the comedy side baggage that also occurred.

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