It can be tricky to understand what specific elements have an impact on customer experience, and how they could be changed. In this CX Renovation series, I’ll recount less-than-ideal experiences (names changed of course) and then explain the updates that could have made them better. Got a horror story you’d like reviewed? Send it my way!
Like most new business owners, I look for ways to save on operational costs. One of those ways is identifying the lowest-cost software solution for various business needs. So when I needed accounting software, I identified two choices. MoneySoft offered a popular and well-known product for a monthly fee. A competitor offered a free product that I’d never heard of, but had good reviews.
Initially, I leaned toward MoneySoft, mostly because of name recognition. I would be using their base version, which is feature-lean but very affordable. However, they didn’t make it clear whether I’d be able to accept credit cards with that version.
Where it went off the rails
MoneySoft’s website claimed that the software included credit card processing, but listed it separately from their other offerings. And the page for the base version I wanted didn’t mention credit cards at all. So I fired up the live chat box and asked.
At first, the support rep said no. Then he said “we only support” MoneySoft’s higher end products, and couldn’t answer questions about the base version.
That was irritating, but I thanked him and navigated to MoneySoft’s web page specifically for their base version. My assumption was that the live chat on that page would connect me to the correct support team.
Frustratingly, the chat conversation followed me, keeping me connected to the rep who had already said he couldn’t help me. In an effort to be helpful, he provided a very long description of the credit card feature. He also told me that feature was available with other versions of the software – which was specifically not what I was asking!
We went back and forth several more times. I would reiterate my original, very simple (I thought) question: Is credit card processing available with the base version of the software? And he would respond with a long-winded explanation of the credit card feature, without actually answering my question.
At one point he messaged a link and then quoted information from that page. But if the website had the information, I wouldn’t need to ask in the live chat!
His explanations were full of MoneySoft brand names for various services and products. Since I had no idea what those other things were, I didn’t understand what he was talking about. That only compounded my confusion and made communication all but impossible.
Eventually he re-stated that he couldn’t support the version I was asking about. Since I was already in a live chat on the page for the version I needed, I had no way to chat with the correct team, and the support rep couldn’t transfer me. He wanted to give me contact information so I could call support myself, but at that point I was fed up.
I decided that if this was the service MoneySoft provides before a sale, it’s probably not going to get much easier to work with them after. I informed the sales rep that I would be signing up with their competitor.
MoneySoft violated a key rule of CX:
The customer does not know and does not care about your internal anything.
The customer doesn’t care about your organizational structure, doesn’t care about your jargon, and doesn’t care how you structure your offerings.
The customer knows what they want to accomplish and what they want to buy, and it’s your responsibility to help them accomplish their goals and buy what they need.
MoneySoft is certainly not alone. Nearly every organization struggles with this concept. Hierarchical org structures force information, decisions, and working relationships to go up, then down. That means if three separate departments offer three separate products (regular software, base version as a distinct offering, and the feature package I wanted), there are likely:
- Three sets of people working on them, and those teams do not overlap
- Three leaders with three different opinions on how to market those products
- Three separate repositories of information about the products, which may or may not be accessible to other teams
At some higher level, there is someone tasked with overseeing all three departments. However, unless that person has a keen understanding of customer experience, they are unlikely to strongly encourage those teams to work together.
That is why the information I needed was in so many different places that I was completely unable to figure it out. That’s also why the support rep couldn’t do anything except read the website to me, because the info we both needed belonged to an entirely different team.
That put the onus on me, the customer, to reach across MoneySoft’s siloes and research all the options. And without adequate information, I simply couldn’t make that assessment.
Not only that, but MoneySoft’s reliance on its own brand names meant I couldn’t understand what the support rep was talking about. That made it even harder to get the knowledge I needed.
How to fix it
Ideally, MoneySoft’s product offerings should be simple to understand, so that I can figure it out myself. The website’s comparison page should list all related products, so I don’t have to consult multiple pages for the same information. And if I did need live chat support, the rep should have been able to answer my questions. Regardless of version, or package, or team.
Here are some things MoneySoft could change internally that would enable a better experience for the customer.
- All product teams should be strongly encouraged to work together. An overarching team (whether it’s product management, CX, or some other team) should be ensuring the products integrate well and that information is easily shared across departments.
- Train support reps on all the products. Give them access to documentation for all products.
- If there are highly specialized products, such that a single person could never know them all in detail, it’s ok to have specialist support reps. However, there are two caveats here. The first is to enable each rep to identify which rep is needed, so they can hand off a customer immediately. Don’t waste precious time trying to help when you know you can’t. The second is that the handoff needs to be smooth. Don’t just give me the other team’s contact info and make me do the work myself! Contact them for me, make sure they have my information and question, and then hand me off.
- Better customer research could have informed them that someone might be interested in the feature combination I was looking for. That would have allowed the company to prepare better with the right information.
- It’s ok to have branded terms. However, no one should have to guess or research what your terms and product names refer to. If it’s not obvious from the name itself, attach a tag line or description. For example, if your credit card processing software is called “CheetahSupreme”, make sure you write it as “CheetahSupreme credit card processing software”. Or better yet, “CheetahSupreme: Our fastest credit card processing software (for slower options, check out to TurtleSupreme and SlothSupreme)”.
Had these things happened, I would almost certainly be a happily paying customer of MoneySoft right now.