Category Archives: Customer Relations

The Pain Report

One of the people I worked with in the past used to produce what he called “Pain Report”. This report attempted to predict the customers (or sales people) that would explode next and give support managers a way to proactively address problems.

The report was basically a weighted sum of the amount of time all cases were open. Here’s how it works:

  • Assign a weight for every severity level you have. The more severe the case, the higher the severity. For example, with a four level severity scale a possible a possible scale can be:
  • Now multiply the number of days each of the customer’s cases have been open, and what you have is the weighted number of days for every case
  • Sum the numbers you received, and you receive the customer’s pain index

The weight numbers in the table above are a way to assign relative urgency to the different severities, play with them and determine the weighting that works for you. Here is a sample of two customers’ pain report that demonstrates the influence of higher severity cases on the pain index:

Both customers have an identical number of cases open, and the total number of days is similar. The only difference between the reports are two higher severity cases that customer “A” has.

Now, this report does not attempt to predict the next angry phone call our CEO will receive. There are more variables at play here, from a pending deal to total lack of good will on the customer’s side. But, it does give us an additional perspective on the caseload and the way it is broken down by customer, and helps us diffuse potential trouble spots before they materialize. It will probably be far more useful in very high complexity environments, where customers have multiple cases open at any given time and support management needs to find a way to make sense of their workload.

Have you implemented such a report? Do you think it will useful in your environment?

How to Not Own a Problem

Any of you know evernote? It is a great little tool that allows users to clip, tag and access web clippings, pdfs and other files. I depend on this tool and its safari plug-in greatly and I imagine many other people do as well.

One of Evernote’s nicest features is its web clipping plug-in for browsers, including safari. A few days ago Apple upgraded Safari and the plug-in stopped working, and apparently needed major upgrade. How should a company address such a situation?

Today, several days after the safari upgrade during which the plug-in was not operational, Evernote sent its subscribers this e-mail:

What can we learn from this e-mail?

  • Apple has upgraded Safari (which we already know) and it is very different to what we had until now
  • Evernote are working hard (which we don’t really care about, we pay subscription to fund that)
  • Apparently they have no clue when a new release will be available
  • … and they do not plan to notify us when it is released

To add insult to injury, Evernote decided for its customers that their tool not working is a “small hassle”. This statement presents two questions: First, how do they know how big the hassle is? and second, if their tool being severely handicapped is a small hassle, why should anyone pay for it?

Now, beside the fact that the link they recommend does not work, what should a company do to deliver news like these:

  • Tell the users something they do not know but care about, for example, when will the new release be available
  • Do not make assumptions about the problem’s impact on your users (hint: do not use “small hassle”)
  • Commit to following0-up, communicate progress and the availability of the new release in the same way you communicated the problem

How To Deliver Bad News

Recently I started using Seesmic, and also ‘liked’ them in facebook.  A few days ago they published this message, which got me thinking, and tweeting:

How to not deliver bad news to your customers: #poorservice #SCRM


Haim Toeg

Surprisingly enough, Seesmic, or more accurately, Luic Le Meur, one of the founders, responded:

@ interesting, how would you have delivered the news?


Loic Le Meur

So, what are the keys to delivering bad news?

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  Does the company really think anybody will pay their carrier the penalties associated with changing devices or switching carriers just to use their iPhone or Android product?  All this message does is annoy its audience – exactly those that the company wants to keep.

Offer valid alternatives that do not require much effort or expense.  In this case the company could have just as easily recommend the native twitter and facebook applications for the BlackBerry.  It would have made a positive message that could have gained added goodwill.

Postscript: In the time since, Seesmic updated the original blog post, well done!