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The Complacency of Mediocre Companies

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I was inspired to write this article after a brief social media exchange between a car parking app company and myself over the failings of their security philosophy. You can read the exchange here.

Companies often outsource their social media to specialist agencies for good reasons. These agencies are dedicated to responding to clients as well as generating interest in their contractors product or service and they often do it well. But social media is a lot more than this, it is a direct dialogue between the customer and the supplier. Outsourcing this task removes that link and unless well managed destroys the very positive impact social media can have.

Look at the above exchange, I gave feedback to the parking company about the flaws in their eco system. These are not bugs or errors as such, but design issues that lock out infrequent customers from the service and reduce business and therefore income to the app company.

This is an important, but not critical issue. I was locked out of my account and while there are recovery options which do work, they only work if you, the customer, are prepared to spend time and effort engaging with them. They also assume you are a frequent customer as, while PIN code(s) for bank account(s) are important,  there is little incentive to remember PIN codes for an app that may be used a few times a year. There is also no incentive to remember a username or password for a specific ecosystem.

And that’s the problem, this company, while it will have many regular users who retain all the critical security information they require. Infrequent customer like myself rely on the security in their phone to retain the account details. If this doesn’t work, we have no way of recovering that information quickly and easily, which is exactly what is required if you are parking your car. Furthermore, because the account and PIN are provided by the app company, it cannot be changed to something memorable.

That’s the designs flaw, the customer doesn’t care! If you log them out, they will just buy a paper ticket for less money.

That is a major revenue loss for the parking app company, and we the customer don’t care enough to tell them.

But even when we give them feedback through a valid channel such as social media, because the company doesn’t engage with social media, the subcontractor ends up replying with stock answers that not only insult the customers intelligence, but prevent the vital feedback being received by the company. If the company were made aware, they would have a chance of improving the system to allow infrequent customers from being disenfranchised. I suspect the loss of potential business is a very significant percentage.

The worse thing is nobody cares, the customer doesn’t care, the social media company doesn’t care, the app company doesn’t care, the car parking company doesn’t care. So progress and quality are lost.

Now that’s a business opportunity for somebody that does care.

So, while the above is a specific example, I have lost count of the number of times companies I have observed choose not to engage with their customers or worse, detach themselves completely from their users to their own detriment.

Oh, and my reply to the company from their latest response is:

Dear Sirs,

For your information, this is feedback for your benefit, not an enquiry for mine. I don’t need to fill in a form on your employers website for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t care
  2. It doesn’t benefit me, only your employer
  3. This social media exchange is the report, I don’t need to repeat this through a separate channel
  4. I don’t work for you, so don’t expect me to do what you ask
  5. If you want my business, give me what I want
  6. Care about your business because nobody else is going to 

Passion is an overused word these days, but the lack of it is highly evident here. The most important point, is this companies lacking is somebody else’s opportunity.

 

As a last note, if you’re wondering what attributes I look for when I invest in companies? It is the opposite of those mentioned above.

 

 

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