Monday, July 26, 2004
Wanted: Corporate NinjasWestern society might be evolving itself into the stone ages. As new technologies and "services" have been grafted, one by one, onto the basis of our stable society, it seems to me that the resulting structure is becoming less and less stable. Doomsday? Hardly. Huge pain in the ass? Positively. Several leaps backward? Maybe .... I've had a growing awareness of this problem for some time now. Then I read Voltaire's Bastards. This book finally started zeroing in on this problem. I couldn't finish the book for an ironic reason. The book is about how the complexity of our society is rendering it ineffective, and demonstrates how ours is the first society where its citizens can't really understand it or interact with it. The book is written (in my humble opinion) very poorly because it is too complex and meandering. Was the author intending this? I think not. But back to my point. Our society is getting so complex, so competitive, and so "service oriented", that its citizens are literally being victimized by it. Remember "Buttle" in "Brazil"? That would be who I feel like this week. A slight problem with my internet account did not fall into the "common list" of problems experienced by Verizon Online customers. I have called no less than ten times to technical support. Here is where the problem started. Jot this down and don't forget it: Knowledge bases tell underpaid customer service agents what to think, but it doesn't teach them how to think. And it certainly doesn't teach them to care. Because trust me, Verizon doesn't care. Corporate evil allows Verizon to say "We have 9,238,209 customers. If we pay our customer service agents minimum wage and show them how to solve 90% of the problems, we will lose 8,301 customers per year. The calculated savings is $290,010 per year. [all numbers have been verified by my anus that they came from it.] Verizon makes this decision (and it is their right to make it) because the corporate world is so freakin' complex that it's pretty much impractical to pay for customer support that can solve 99.9% of problems. So they settle on 90%. But here's the rub. Verizon is taking a happy customer and turning them into a bitter enemy. You take a dump on me, I take a picture of the dump and post it on my blog. Call it a "log blog". Whatever. We used to have the Public Utilities Commission to turn to for problems like this, but DSL service is not a utility and thus not regulated. DSL is also typically provided by companies that WERE watched by the PUC for every other service they ever sold. So now that they are not being watched, they don't have the maturity to really handle customer problems like they should. The problem is the complexity, and the high rate of change. The solution ... is ninjas. What I'm calling a "ninja" is someone who will be a highly-trained, talented, empowered communicator who will listen to a screaming customer who falls into the 10% category. THe ninja will hear their problem once, then take his katana and cut through all the corporate silos *sideways* to solve the problem, and get the customer back on his feet. If Verizon had done this for me, I would be singing their praises. Instead I am slogging through a giant turd. Thanks Verizon.