How NOT To Deliver Customer Service

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You don’t have to look any further than any newspaper, TV news report, or the Internet to find the worst example of customer service.  Nothing can match the fiasco that is the ObamaCare rollout.  How would you like to disappoint millions of customers at the same time who want to buy your product or service? 

There are lots of apologies for the online meltdown.  The Washington Times reported that Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary and Marilyn Tavenner, her second in command, have apologized to the American people for the dismal and frustrating website that was supposed to make it easy to register for the subsidized healthcare. 

No introduction of a product or service in history could have been a bigger disaster.  If Apple runs out of IPhones or IPads, or department stores run out of Furbees or Angry Birds or the X-Box, customers will get annoyed and angry.  They could start a riot or fight over whatever inventory is available.  But nothing could match the sheer numbers of customers who are trying to access a new life-saving service that offers the promise of a deep discount.

Customer service professionals can learn a lot about what makes customers happy—and angry—by taking a good look at the ObamaCare rollout disaster.  It’s a great example of how much online access and transactions play a part in customer satisfaction. 

It’s not the products that is making consumers angry.  Finding affordable health care is a good thing.  It’s the access and frustration of trying to buy a product but being shut out time and time again.  As commerce moves more and more to the Internet, online access and the ability of a website to deliver is going to be more and more important. 

Adding to the frustration is the lack of physical locations to sign up.  Not everyone has a PC, laptop or high-speed internet access to even log on to the government website.  That means hundreds of thousands of people don’t even have a portal to try to log into the website that doesn’t work.  If you want to serve a wide group of customers, you need more than one way to buy your product.  Physical stores may not be the answer, but sales representatives or local sales events may be the answer for those who can’t just make a purchase from their cell phone.

The old “bait and switch” is another frustration many people are experiencing with ObamaCare.  Retailers have used this for eons, advertising a low-cost “door-buster,” knowing that they only had a few items at that price.  When the customer finds out it’s out of stock, they are lured into buying a higher-priced model.  Since they are already in the store, many agree just to save another trip to the store later or paying a higher price at another store.  Those seeking healthcare on the ObamaCare site are finding that they have to pay higher prices for healthcare that may not be as good as what they had.  Or , they find they don’t qualify for the generous subsidies.  For the millions of Americans whose healthcare was cancelled because of the new laws, there is no choice but to shop the exchange. 

Customers like choice.  They want honesty.  And, they don’t want to waste time.  The rollout of Obamacare failed on all three.  Time will fix most of the problems, but what the administration will lose is credibility and the confidence of the American people to deliver on its promises.  That could cost a lot of people their jobs come the next elections.  As always, the customer has the last word.


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