I hope you have enjoyed some of my recent posts on using PERT analysis for more accurate durations, my Top 10 Project Management Blogs, and Developing a WBS. This week, I am going to draw from my recent experience with my wireless/mobile provider, Verizon, and a blog by Raj Menon “When The Going Gets Tough.”
Before we get into it, I want to share the video of the week…click here and enjoy!
Background: My wife and I upgraded to the latest mobile network and got new cell phones in the Jan/Feb timeframe. Since then, we have both made numerous 30 minute trips to the Verizon store and spent hours on the phone with technical support. Everytime, they ask us to ‘reset to factory settings’ and we lose our calendar entries, pictures, ring tones, etc. When we ask to get upgraded, the technicians say “Verizon did a study and found we spend too much money upgrading customers, so we would rather send a new phone everyday if we have to.”
In recent weeks, I have gone to Twitter and shared my headaches there. Within minutes I was able to find other people experiencing similar issues and I began retweeting and got it out to about 10,000 users. At first, I was encouraged by the quick response of VZWSupport “Sorry, to hear about your issue. What is the problem”. I would tell them 11 phones in less then a year is unacceptable. Their response “is anything currently wrong with your device?” Once I say “no, but 11 phones in less then a year is unacceptable” they go silent on me…zero response.
Enough of my woes…what does this all mean?
There are three key issues that I glean from Verizon’s ‘Customer Service’
- Technicians are trained to follow a process, a script (This is where I will focus below)
- They have not empowered their employees to make decisions or make a customer ‘whole’
- The technicians are being measured on #of issues resolved and not customer satisfaction (poor KPI’s)
As Project Managers, we are always looking to drive repeatable processes, implement best practices, and define A project methodology (i.e. – Prince vs. PMI or Waterfall vs. Agile). We need to make sure that we do not lock ourselves into a set of templates and/or single methodology. Project Managers need to understand a series of best practices, leverage different methodologies, and build a tool box/portfolio of skills to best manage projects. If you can only develop a project plan, but can not manage risk then you have a gap in your skillset. If you can not take a set of templates and customize, scale them to your org/project then you have a gap in your skillset. Don’t limit yourself by sticking to a script or simply checking of project documents. Build a portfolio and have a set of tools at your disposal to be a thought leader, add value, and lead projects.
As for KPIs and empowering the employees, if you are in a capacity to manage project managers or PMOs, then you need to truly understand what behaviour you are driving within your organization. Are you simply measuring the PMs on meeting deadlines or bringing the project in under budget? Are you slowing projects down, because your PMs need to come to you for validation and decision making? If they need training, then train them. If you need training on how to do this, then humble yourself and get trained.
I guess the PM version of the ‘reboot’ or ‘reset to factory settings’ is not sticking to dates an simply having the project rebalanced, re-baselined, etc. Don’t reboot your projects, add value and solve issues…upgrade your clients! In Raj’s blog, he mentions Audible.com and how they go above an beyond. When a customer wants to cancel the subscription they ask you why (Verizon says sure, lets process that $250 cancellation fee now) and what they an do to help keep you. They let you pause the subscription, the offer 2 free months/credits, etc. They meet you half way, they step away from the script and bring value to the relationship. Bring value to your client relationship!
Do you have any customer experience stories you would like to share?
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