The world is going crazy. Last weekend, Queensland was once again drowned in the after effects of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. Oswald proved to be mighty strong in my neck of the woods. Many trees were down, including a very old and protected fig. We lost power for almost three days and our communication to the outside world was extinguished when our phone and Internet soon followed suit. Several homes and businesses in our town suffered minor flooding damage.
So, as you would expect, it has been a tough week for many local business owners. But I have to ask, what are they doing to help themselves? As it happens, on Wednesday morning I popped into my optician to have some glasses adjusted. In front of me was a lady who asked a perfectly reasonable question – could I make an appointment please? The astounding reply – no! Our computers are down.
Excuse me? The business was opened. There had been some leaks at the back but the examination rooms were fine. The opticians were working. But the receptionist was turning away customers. Ludicrous.
In recent times I have experienced all of the following cyber-excuses:
1. It took 15 minutes to buy a bottle of wine and some cheese in one of the most upmarket areas of Brisbane. The reason given – “we are on Windows 98 and it”s always crashing.” Well, upgrade and sort it out.
2. In Manchester it took one of the world”s leading airlines three hours PAST the scheduled departure time to board the aircraft “because the check in system crashed.” What’s your Plan B? I was not impressed by theirs.
3. Attempting to book a flight online, the system would not let me enter credit card details, giving the reason that my second flight departed 30 minutes before my first one arrived. Sounds logical – except for the minor detail that the second flight was 7 days after the first flight!
4. A firm reported that they could not make a “buy one, get one free” on a webinar because the cloud based events booking system did not allow it.
5. On getting my car serviced, I had to take it back in two days later because “the computer ordered the wrong air filter.” This must be the ultimate in cyber-passing the buck.
On the positive side, my local IGA supermarket remained open for business throughout the rain, winds and storms. They lost power, but had the wherewithal to hook up a generator, providing enough light to operate safely and fire up a couple of tills and EFTPOS machines.
You don”t blame machines. You find a way and get on with it. You don”t need a sophisticated point of sale system linked to a CRM system in real time to make a sale. You need a good attitude, a customer/client service ethic and the back of an envelope to take down a credit card number and some notes if need be.
Let”s stop using technology as an excuse for failing to properly service the customer. Let”s ensure that in the battle of Man vs Machine, Man (and common sense) emerges on top.