Have you ever dialed *611 (or some equivalent number) on your mobile phone to reach your mobile provider? Have you then been asked to enter your phone number? Don’t they already know that?
Last week I was in Las Vegas for the seriously awesome MIX 2009 conference. Since I am from Canada, I went to the self-service site for my mobile provider to add a US Roaming option to my account. Upon returning to Canada, I discovered that the same self-service site will not let me remove features. I must call to do that.
So I call my provider and am asked to "press 1 for English, press 2 for French" before being asked to enter my 10-digit mobile number. Don’t they already know that?
DON’T THEY ALREADY FREAKING KNOW THAT?!?
When I dial *611, I’m obviously calling from my mobile phone. The provider knows my number and language preference. The provider knows! Why why why why, oh, why would they force me to take the device away from my ear, stop whatever else I’m doing, and key in some information that they already know?!?
I submit that the real underlying reason is that the people designing these systems don’t truly care about the customer. They don’t truly care about the needs of the user.
Have you ever called your bank, keyed in your bank card number at an automated prompt, and then read your card number to a human?
Have you ever called your credit card company, keyed in your credit card number at an automated prompt, and then read your card number to a human?
Have you ever keyed in your phone number or account number and then read the same information to a human?
Of course you have! It’s an absurdity of systems designed for the convenience of vendors and call center management with little regard for the frustration and annoyance of customers.
If you want loyal and passionate customers, look for every opportunity to improve the relationship, including removing frustration, annoyance, and redundancy at key points of contact. When a customer calls your company, you want the customer to feel happy to have a relationship with your company.