In the early days of the Internet, companies typically formed a separate “skunk works” organization to build, test, and manage the Internet channel. This was a costly decision. As the Internet channel grew, there was little to no coordination between this channel and other customer-facing channels. The customer experience suffered greatly. Most of us recognize this mistake when we order something from the Internet and then call a company to ask a question about our order. Most companies “forgot” that these channels should be seamless to the customer. A customer should be able to purchase something through any channel, return it through any channel, and ask for service through any channel. The company should view the customer holistically, not as separate pieces depending on what channel they choose to interact through.
I remember dealing with a large company that was starting to build customer portals on their site. They were building a knowledge management database (for FAQs) along with publishing the customer’s specific help desk database so customers would have an easier time diagnosing, tracking, and solving their individual problems. There were immense issues to deal with. The company realized that the same products had multiple names – many times different from country to country. Prior to the Internet, all product promotion and sales were local. Now they were international – any customer could access any part of the Internet. Another issue was brought to light as the company formatted the help desk tickets to publish. They found that in the customer’s history were embedded technicians’ comments concerning the personality of the customer. It seemed the technicians were often venting their frustrations, concerns, and anger by commenting in the notes of the company's service history. Needless to say, the company had to launch a major clean up of the database as well as establishing the standard operating procedure of what could / should be documented in a ticket.
What challenges have you faced as your company has started to integrate the internet into the customer's experience?