How your business completely lost the plot

Kafka-esque rules, inhuman customer service and an utter lack of common sense all point to one avoidable problem.

by Martin Lindstrom

One by one, executives of a large South American telecommunications conglomerate arrived at what they’d been led to believe was a full-day workshop on customer experience. This had become an essential topic for the company, given its double-digit negative net promoter score. Upon arrival, they were told to take seats in a large waiting room. The room was packed with people, and a halfway out-of-tune TV in a corner of the room played a loop of a corporate ad.

What they didn’t know was that they were guinea pigs in a corporate experiment I’d concocted. Telecommunications companies are notorious for their poor customer service. My client wasn’t an exception. The company’s average customer waiting time of 92 minutes (yes, that’s an hour and 32 minutes — on average) had led to the government banning companies from waiting times exceeding 59 minutes.

The company’s response? They broke the wait into two parts. After waiting for 59 minutes, customers were sent to another part of the building, where they faced an additional 33 minutes of waiting time.

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