A shout-out to Cambridge Savings Bank for great customer service

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It sucks to write checks for the IRS. But then again… I’m happy to contribute my share for the greater good. No big deal. A bigger deal would be losing money because of oversight.

So the other day, I had to write a check for what I owed the government. I filled it out, mailed it, out of sight, out of mind. But then, as things go, I remembered this while driving around in my car through beautiful Somerville MA. The morning of that day I had checked my account balance, and for some reason my brain put 1&1 together and surfaced the thought that I don’t have the balance for the check to go through!

Luckily, my bank, local Cambridge Savings Bank, offers text banking! So as I got to a red light… (ha! Thought you had me there, didn’t ya) I reached for the phone that, of course, already sat on my dashboard, and switched to the messaging app. I texted the words “transfer 2000″ to the bank. A few seconds (!) later, they confirmed that I had successfully transferred $2000 from my savings to my checkings account.

What had happened? Within a mere 15 or 20 seconds I went from thought of the moment to resolution. And all because my bank got four of the following “now consumer” (me!) expectations right:

They “let me do it”. They “made it mobile”. They “fit into my life”. They “saved me time”.

Here’s another example why I consider myself already a loyal customer. A few months ago I asked them whether they supported Apple Pay with the MasterCard I have. I asked this question on Twitter; a convenient channel for simple customer service inquires. They got back to me. Not in record time, but that wasn’t needed for this type of inquiry. They told me they didn’t support Apple Pay yet, but would tell me once they did – they were working on it. Did I honestly believe they would remember telling me? Not really. However, a few weeks ago, I got a tweet out of the blue: Cambridge Savings Bank informed me that they now support Apple Pay, adding a link to more information. They did remember!

They “know” me. They “made me smarter”.

Finally, I get frequent updates by email from the person that setup my account last year, proactively, without me even asking for it, whether the great interest rate that made me a customer in the first place, was being continued beyond the promotional timeframe or not. (It is.)

OK, one more. Just a few days ago, I needed to deposit a check that had a higher amount than what the deposit function in their mobile app allowed. I wasn’t in the mood for going into the branch, so I asked via email if they could help me somehow. Within an hour or two the mobile deposit limit was raised temporarily. I could deposit the check the same day.

They “made it easy”. 

Here’s a shout out to you, Cambridge Savings Bank. Thanks for providing great customer service. Keep doing what you’re doing. (Oh and if this post brings you a new customer or two, why don’t you keep up that interest rate on my money market account for a bit longer… ;-) )

Sincerely,
A loyal customer.

How UPS doesn’t Grok Twitter Support, and 5 Lessons for Doing it Right

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I have to share this memorable customer experience I “enjoyed” today for your reading pleasure. It started a few days back, when I tried to change the delivery of a package from Apple I was awaiting.

I knew I wouldn’t be home in person for a signature on the expected delivery date, neither did I want to pre-sign, so I opted for a pick-up option at a UPS facility. On the UPS website I found out I had to register for a (free) account to make a change like that. Fine. I tried to register, but the website kept going in a loop of me registering, then trying to change the delivery option, and it telling me to register to do that, then me registering, then trying to change the delivery option, and it telling me to register when trying to do that, then me… you get the idea. A bug. I had no choice but to contact an agent (which is very expensive for UPS vs me using their website). I opted for Web chat. It worked fast and smoothly. I had the agent change my delivery to a drop it at a pick-up location. So far so good…

Today, I got an SMS alert from Apple (love their service) telling me that “today is the day”. I clicked on Track Shipment to find out where to pickup the package from – ie., which UPS facility. The tracking website told me everything about the journey of my package, how it started in China, then went to Korea, then Alaska, Kentucky, finally Massachusetts. What it failed to tell me? Where to pick the package up. All it said was “A pickup facility in Somerville, MA”. Thanks UPS, that’s helpful. Google tells me there are many UPS locations in Somerville. Which one?

Lesson 1: Fix your data.
It’s needs to be self-explanatory, not force the customer to make unnecessary inbound service requests.

 

I turned to Twitter, asking @UPSHelp for help. Here’s how that journey started:

Uh, yeah… There is. Kinda obvious, no?

Really? I’m contacting you on Twitter and you’re sending me to email? There’s your first mistake, @UPSHelp. I picked Twitter for a reason (simple: I like it – it’s convenient and fast for simple inquiries like this), and you would be perfectly capable of answering my question on this channel.

Lesson 2: Don’t force your customers to switch channels unless they ask for it.

 

Great. Looks like you got it now. So here is my DM:

Wow. “the local center”. Really UPS? You do know the very reason why I contacted you, don’t you? Also, spotted the second mistake? They responded on the public channel, rather than staying on the DM channel that we had just established through mutual following.

Oh, and – pickup times of 3 hours and only on weekdays? That’s almost disrespectful.

Lesson 3: Once on DM, stay on DM.
I didn’t chose Twitter to make my request public – I chose the channel for its convenience, speed, and simplicity.

 

I’m still communicating on DM, but their response again happens on the public channel:

I then realized that the pickup times were actually really bad, and I really wanted this package on a Saturday.

Wow. You just completely blew my mind. 20 minutes and you already completely forgot our conversation? That’s unbelievably silly. I don’t care if they had a change of shifts (note that the agent apparently changed from “SB” to “SO”). It’s just unacceptable to be treated like this. I’m starting to lose patience. Also: again the request to switch to email, even though they have clearly demonstrated they could answer my questions on Twitter.

Lesson 4: Never lose context, never force your customers to repeat themselves.

 

I responded right away, assuming I had their attention. That was naive of me to assume. Of course. I waited 30 minutes for a response. I became impatient.

That may very well be, but what about other facilities nearby? Can the package not be transferred to a facility with better opening hours (assuming those exist in the first place – I don’t know, you tell me)? Please try to solve my problem, not just answer questions.

Lesson 5: Think and help, proactively – don’t just answer questions.

 

That was my last interaction. I am still waiting for a response, hours later.

Sorry @UPSHelp, but you have a lot to learn (and fix) if you want to get this customer service thing right. Need help in doing it? Talk to my company, we are in the business of fixing bad customer service. Meanwhile, you have one more unhappy customer who happens to be a customer service professional that likes to blog.

 

Addendum: I did email them, which they had asked me to do, and they responded (6 hours later). In that email response, they told me that the location actually opens in the morning AND in the afternoon. So the info in their tweet was actually wrong! I’m still sitting here, shaking my head.

The non-threat of 3rd-party apps to Twitter Inc.

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It seems widely understood that Twitter’s latest announcement of their new REST API version 1.1 is a first real step towards a more locked communications universe. As their Director of Consumer Products states: “Nearly eighteen months ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post, that guidance continues to apply today.” Developers of client apps that display tweets and allow authoring of tweets will gradually be shut down by restricting the API that way.

My question is: why?

Twitter has become a business, backed with VC money. I understand the need to generate revenue, and at the moment we all have to believe that this will happen through advertisement. Today, ads are primarily added to the tweet stream as promoted tweets. As a daily user of Twitter myself, I have to say that I find this form of advertisement… acceptable. Other than Facebook, where the ads are taking up a lot of space on my wall (esp. on a mobile device), are annoying, and misuse my friends for promotion (something I find completely unacceptable and really bad business practice), the Twitter ad experience is unobtrusive, and often helpful. I can accept this form of revenue generation. I can quickly swipe over a promoted tweet if I’m not interested.

The fear of 3rd party client apps seems to be based on the assumption that they will find a way to block ads, or filter them out. My question, though: why doesn’t Twitter change the way those promoted tweets are inserted into the stream and exposed through their API? Why doesn’t Twitter make these tweets indistinguishable from regular tweets that show up in my stream? E.g., if they aren’t tagged any special way, and if Twitter changes the fact that only tweets of people I follow show up in my stream… or if they change their T&Cs for external clients such that they have to display promoted tweets, or else Twitter reserves the right to block requests from these clients… or, even better: why doesn’t Twitter come up themselves with the best client for Twitter, so that people naturally choose theirs and stay with it… Today, I use a 3rd party client myself, as Twitter’s own doesn’t do all I need it to do.

Twitter is entirely built upon ideas from people outside of Twitter Inc. Hashtags, mentions, retweets, and everything else that make up Twitter today have evolved out of its user base. (See the above links for some history, or this one for an overview). Threatening those who helped Twitter become what it is today seems like a bad idea to me. And I don’t see why they should feel forced to be doing that.