Forms via Email and Sneakernet? It Can Get Worse …

January 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I thought we were in the final days of poor integration of web-based direct customer interaction with business processes.  You know – the days when you’d fill out an online form that would just get turned into an email to someone who would then print it out and put it in a pile with all the other normal forms they process.  Well, I’ve found a company that’s managed to even take that a step backward.

I have been looking for a car battery that seems to be very difficult to find and went to the “parts” link on a local dealer’s website.  Below the direct phone number for the parts department is a web form where you can enter all the info on the part you’re looking for along with your email address.  I filled it all out including make, model, part, phone number, and email adddress (I left the VIN blank). Today I got a voicemail message from someone at the dealership saying they got my online form, read the basic info back to me, and gave me the number of the parts department that I should call so they can help me.

Boy, it’s tough to even figure out how to optimize that process!  Well, one way would be to have eliminated development of the web form and the callback procedure. That would have saved 100% of the development costs for that feature and yielded 0% difference in actual functionality. Better would be actually having someone in the parts department read the information and call me back with an answer. Guess I’ll have to wait for Web 3.0 for that. In the meantime, I’m going to an old-fashioned garage. No web site, but they seem to have better customer service anyways.

The moral of the story has to do with setting expectations. Web technology often sets high expectations, but poor process integration leaves a company worse off than if they hadn’t done anything at all. I’ll be following up on this thread later this week, but today’s experience provides a good primer on the issue.

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