Archive for the ‘The Wait Window Problem’ Category
July 27, 2011 by Yuval Brisker
One of the best articles written about the operational and customer care revolution that TOA is advocating for and leading was written in the Sunday Times last week. You can read it here.
It’s direct, it’s concise and it gets it. Because for Irad and me, this company and its software solutions have been all about personalization – whether creating personalized work days for each mobile employee – not just a default or generic workday across thousands of employees; whether it’s been treating each customer waiting at home for an installation, service or deliver in a personalized way – respecting their time and providing them information according to their preference not treating customers as if they were an anonymous mass but rather as individual with a life and other priorities. And this is for us the true meaning of ‘social’ in the enterprise…putting back caring into customer care where customers really want it and need it.
September 20, 2010 by Yuval Brisker
“Besides perhaps a root canal or a tax audit, few things can be more frustrating than making an appointment to have a cable technician visit your home. You’re given a four-hour window and find yourself waiting and waiting, with no idea when the technician will arrive. Inevitably, it seems, he does not show up until just before the window expires. Or, despite the four-hour time frame, he arrives late.”
- “Cable Contract Has Fines for Late Service”, Fernanda Santos, New York Times, September 14th, 2010
In honor of TOA’s 7th birthday last week – The New York Times reported eloquently that the City of New York (the place where the idea for TOA was actually born) gave its citizens a long needed present by officially recognizing “The Cable Guy Problem” and codifying into law that cable companies have to provide a Time of Arrival (TOA) and then need to arrive on time or face a serious penalty (losing a month’s subscriber fees).
As all those who read this blog know – TOA Technologies, my company, has made it its mission to solve this problem : i.e. the problem of customers stranded at home, frustrated, waiting without knowing when, or even if, the cable technician will arrive. TOA’s advanced technology solution helps our clients manage customer appointments and the technicians in the field serving those customers with one goal in mind – to make sure that customers’ time is respected and customers’ needs and preferences come first. Our patented solution has been adopted by many companies around the country and the world to specifically address the problem (including some in the NY Tri-State area).
Irad Carmi (my partner) and I recognized years ago that this problem was not ‘just another customer service annoyance’ but rather a greater sociological, economic issue that reflects a deep systemic operational problem that most service providers who run a mobile workforce have ignored. It is ingrained in their legacy systems and processes and based on just plain taking the customer and their time for granted. But it ultimately ends up backfiring and producing a lot of inefficiency along the way.
This problem isn’t trivial because it ends up costing many millions of people, the customers waiting at home, a lot of their precious time, their hard earned money, vacation time, their freedom, etc. It produces aggravation, at the least and, many times, even animosity towards these service providers and their employees. It also actually costs these companies their brand equity, the goodwill of their customers and a lot of wasted revenue money lost on missed appointments, unproductive technician time, unnecessary calls to the call center and, most of all, the ultimate price: customers leaving them when better service is offered by someone else.
[In fact, TOA just completed its annual Cost of Waiting Survey, which we will publish shortly and which I will be blogging about. This survey examines this very issue and its economic and social effects in three countries (US, UK and Germany), and the results are incredibly interesting, so stay tuned].
TOA has been blessed by many visionary clients who ‘got it’. They are the trailblazers, the early adopters, who gave us a chance at every point along the way, and who like us, just could not sit around and see their companies waste tens of millions, even hundreds of millions, of dollars AND not provide great service to their customers.
There are always visionaries in every company. But all it takes is one person. One person, I know, can change a culture, a company, the world entire. And we have met many of these. These visionary leaders know that they had to make a change and they were and are willing to fight for that change themselves, against the machinations of their organizations. They do this because they know that they are right. They know that there is a better way – and using a cross section of technology and mind to transform the customer appointment experience (using TOA, of course) – and they KNOW: if it is there, then they have to make a better experience available to their customers. It takes a lot to make change in big companies, but there are always people who do.
We are grateful to them (and you know who you are…) for standing up to the status quo and for giving us a great opportunity to (in our small way) help make life better for your customers in many places around the country and the world. So it is to these leaders that I am dedicating this post, and about them that I am actually writing the response to the NY Times article AND today’s editorial about this issues (yes, the Times wrote an editorial about this). Because these clients of ours did not need legislation to choose positive change for their companies and their customers.
We have a lot more companies and many more leaders to convince that we have THE solution for them. But with the help of my great team and the help of our fantastic set of current bold visionary clients (who all become evangelists too…) I know that we will.
Oh, and thank you, City of New York!
May 12, 2010 by Yuval Brisker
Yesterday I was at The Cable Show in LA mingling with elite of the industry at receptions where all the CEOs (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, etc.)of the industry were present.
It was interesting to hear that there was a lot of thinking and talking about the future of the business. Clearly people devoting mind time to how they can stay ahead.
I attended a very interesting conversation with Brian Roberts with Peter Chernin. It was clear he was thinking about the business all the time -(in fact he said that he is constantly thinking that the whole edifice would come down on him – he said “that’s what I have Steve Burke for, he always see the glass half full and I ALWAYS see the glass half empty – I thought that was interesting). He was talking about how Comcast is dedicating a lot of thought on how to improve the customer experience both in terms of content and technology. He was very proud to show off Comcast’s new interactive guide interface, which was indeed impressive. It was clear how much thinking is going on about the customer experience at the level of the customer interaction with the content.
But WE know that the most important interaction is the human connection.
And though Brian Roberts did say that the cable industry is the industry people “love to hate” – he offered clue into how Comcast is intending to transform the customer experience as it relates to the one time that people will actually see a Comcast person face-to-face, i.e the in-home appointment.
So today I went to check out how things are going at the level of the earth, not the stars – from the pinnacle of glamour and power, to a day spent with a tech – with one of TOA’s customers’ people in the field.
And somehow there were a lot of things that seemed the same to me. He was also thinking about how to make the customer experience better. Crawling in attics and closets… drilling, hooking and thinking how best to do things. But the difference was that he was there on the front lines – in people’s homes, under their carpet and inside their kitchen. It’s amazing how intimate this job is. People let you into the most private parts of their home and life without much reservation, exposing their most intimate physical space. Maybe it’s because, at the end of the day, the cable guy is just another sort of handyman, I don’t know… but it’s a fact that you get to see a LOT when you’re on this job. And it’s a hard job, both physically and mentally, to be the front line of the industry that ‘people love to hate’ as Brian Roberts put it and do a great job – which the guy did!
And if that’s the case, and you have great people doing a tough job, working one by one to transform the image of customer service – it behooves the leaders to provide them the best tools and the best methodologies to help them do their job with the least annoyance and disruption – to search and find the most innovative technology – software and hardware – to take away the burdens of the job and let them focus on what they do best and need to do best. Interacting with the customer well. It will pay dividends more than any great menu driven interactive guide – as well thought as it might be.
March 10, 2010 by Yuval Brisker
Today I am speaking at the Mobile10 event at Olympia in London about efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Some people would think this is a strange combination… efficiency AND customer service/satisfaction? Most people actually think that these two actually negate each other!
But for TOA this is our bread and butter! Literally! We make our living not just combining the two – but making them work in harmony to both reduce operating costs and enhance the customer experience.
This is because our basic premise is that these two issues are equally and completely intertwined. You cannot have one without the other:
And in TOA’s world it’s focus on the customer experience and making sure that customer commitment is MET and that the customer not only has what he or she needs -but has it when and where you promised to deliver it. This is the only TRUE PATH TO EFFICIENCY.
When we started this TOA our goal was to solve the problem of customers “waiting at home without knowing” when a technician (engineer in UK-speak) would arrive at their door.
That was the original seed of the idea: Why not solve the problem of customers “waiting without knowing” by providing them with real-time up-to-date information about the status of their appointment in a pro-active, personalized, dynamic and interactive way?! Such a simple idea!
But what we found was that underlying that lack of information to the customer – was a lack of accurate information by ALL the stakeholders in the appointment event: dispatchers, managers, technicians/mobile employees, call center customer service reps, etc. No one had an actual, up-to-date, easily accessible, real-time picture of the field.
And that’s what we created with TOA’s web-based SaaS solution: A system that collects analyzes , processes and disseminates real-time, time-based, actionable, predictive, intelligent information of what is happening in the field with a focus on the customer and the customer experience.
This is the first true web-based information hub to aggregate all the relevant information about the appointment or field event So that no one is left out in the dark wondering: What is actually going on? When is that appointment or activity going to happen? Why do I have to wait all day without knowing?
We ended up creating one probably the most sophisticated system focusing on predictive analytics, on time and time-based performance pattern recognition and integrated customer communications. All with the goal of keeping customer commitment! That’s the key!