Finweek English Edition - - Openers -

I’VE BEEN RATHER for­get­ful of late, leav­ing things all over the place. Dur­ing a re­cent trip I man­aged to leave the cord for my elec­tric shaver be­hind in a ho­tel room. For a mo­ment I was tempted to use the op­por­tu­nity to buy a new ra­zor but sen­ti­men­tal­ity won the day, so I gave Philips a call to find out how to lay my hands on a new elec­tri­cal cord.

Find­ing a num­ber to call for Philips is a chal­lenge in it­self, re­quir­ing a bit of dig­ging on the site. That’s re­ally an­noy­ing, as pro­vid­ing a con­tact num­ber should be high on the list of any con­sumer-fo­cused com­pany. Af­ter call­ing the num­ber it quickly be­came clear why it buries its num­ber. In­stead of rout­ing you to a call cen­tre, the num­ber rang for more than a minute be­fore be­ing an­swered by a re­cep­tion­ist, who then trans­ferred me to a ser­vice agent.

Though the agent was able to pro­vide me with the cor­rect ba­sic in­for­ma­tion, if I hadn’t been fa­mil­iar with the lay­out of Philips’s of­fice in Jo’burg I’d have gone to the wrong en­trance.

For a large pro­ducer of con­sumer goods, Philips fails the ba­sic test of how to in­ter­act with its cus­tomers, choos­ing to rely on Web forms and a phone sys­tem from the Sev­en­ties.

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