Why are some organisations refusing to remember us?

The last 4 years have been tough for my family. In that time, we’ve been through a difficult process that will, unfortunately, be familiar to many.

Looking after ageing parents with health issues, my siblings and I have had to navigate and battle through a sea of health professionals, government services, banks, utilities and insurers; armed only with our Power of Attorney (POA) documentation and a (diminishing) deal of patience.

Going through this process has allowed me to view the world of communications (and the way in which organisations handle communications) from a brand-new angle. And here’s what I found out.

 

People are very sympathetic.

Generally speaking, the people we have dealt with have been great. Often it is the tools and processes in place, that are letting them down. I don’t doubt that the person on the phone’s sympathy is genuine, but when I'm on the fifth phone call of the day, having to explain the long, sad story as to why you can’t speak to either of my parents, what I really need is for someone to sort out my problem as quickly and efficiently as possible. Not sympathy.

 

Where is the consistency?

Does the process really have to be so difficult? If one organisation allows me to take a photograph of my POA letter and email it directly to the person I am speaking to – whilst I am on the line, why does another need me to mail in the original copy (photocopies apparently unacceptable), wait for them to receive it and then have to call them back to begin the process all over again?

 

Why can’t they remember us?

The most frustrating experience is having to explain the long, drawn-out situation several times TO THE SAME COMPANY. Seriously, this is just downright unacceptable. You can remember the account details to continue to bill us every month, but can’t flag up our current situation somewhere in your system? That certainly doesn’t feel like a particularly user-centric process (something I advocate for on a daily basis at work).

Customers and service users are being let down, but the people on the frontline of organisations are also being let down too. They are left to deal with peoples’ frustrations with the process, without being able to positively impact the situation.

In our recent piece of research that explores how people feel about the communications they receive from organisations, 77% of people told us they want to be able to decide how an organisation communicates with them and they expect those preferences to be remembered. But often the technology and processes in place are not fit for purpose.

I recently met someone who works in the customer service team for (a very well known) insurance company. We were discussing all things inclusivity and accessibility and she lamented the fact that this is a problem she and her team experience every day. They have customers they know are vulnerable, or have special needs, or should be prioritised, but have no way of storing this information within their existing CRM. She told me the problem had been flagged several times to the senior leadership team, but the problem was deemed too expensive to fix and not a priority. A troubling and common response.

 

The good news? Some people are getting it right.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Some organisations are getting this process really right and have, as a result, won my eternal gratitude and (in some cases) loyalty. Nationwide have been nothing short of fantastic and helped us numerous times. Virgin Media’s bereavement team were great when I needed them and managed to sort everything out in one, simple phone call -  almost fixing my 8-year-long beef with them after I was charged an unfair disconnection fee. Long story - don’t ask….

But that’s the message really. The organisations who get it right and commit to putting their users first, win. Small changes can make a big impact on people’s lives. 

Want to find out more about Inclusivity and Accessibility? Download our Inclusive Communications Report, 2019.

Blog author: Lucy Beldon, Planning & Inclusivity Lead at CDS

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