Do you trust the brand to deliver the products & services it promises to deliver? And do you feel trusted during your interactions with the brand? The answers to these two questions can say a lot about the quality of your experience (CX). They shape your perception of the brand, influence your loyalty, and ultimately impact the bottom-line for the brand. Multiple studies indicate that a ‘crisis of trust‘ is brewing that brands need to address urgently.
Recently, I had a series of sub-optimal support interactions with a brand (that I’ve long admired) that led me to believe that the ‘crisis of trust’ is a real and present danger for them.
A few months ago I (reluctantly) upgraded my mobile phone to the latest model offered by the brand. Why reluctantly? I’ve never understood the need to replace/ discard a fully functional piece of hardware to avail upgrades that could have been managed through a software upgrade. It is becoming more and more common these days. Take Tesla as an example. Late last year Tesla remotely enhanced the battery capacity for its cars to help its customers flee Hurricane Irma. If it can be done for a car, it can be done for a phone.
We all have the same question
Unfortunately, the problem I ran into was more serious and couldn’t have been fixed with a software upgrade – at least not completely. I was on an overseas trip. I had been using and charging the phone normally. One day I woke up to find that the home button wasn’t responsive. Upon closer look I noticed that the glass (button) was cracked. This happened while the phone was sitting on the table. There was no chance this could have happened due to impact or a liquid spill. I also noticed that the button was significantly warmer than usual – I could not place my finger on it for more than 30 seconds at a stretch.
I started researching the support website (of the manufacturer) and found posts describing the exact same issue. Other online forums have discussed this issue too. I’m no technical expert but just reading through the posts made me suspect that this was a hardware issue. In fact the problem was first reported with the previous model of the phone. For the latest model, which is the one I own, 280 other customers had clicked the ‘I have the same question’ button (on the manufacturer’s support community website) within the last three months. Over 750 customers had ‘the same question’ for the previous model.
Trust thy customer first, verify later
Two things were clear from these posts – one, this had to be a known h/w defect and two, this couldn’t have been an isolated issue. But the customer service/ support rep wouldn’t acknowledge it. “We’ll need to investigate and if our engineers conclude that the button was damaged due to impact or a liquid spill (mishandling), we’ll go ahead and charge your card on hold. You will need to file a dispute if you don’t agree with our conclusion..” said the customer service ‘manager’ on the phone. My requests to speak with his manager were turned down. “I am the manager. I have none” was his curt response.
“This is the first time we’ve heard of this issue” responded the engineer I met at the store. When I told him I had seen several posts related to this issue, he interrupted me with a condescending smirk. “Where? online communities?” he asked. I immediately understood that he wasn’t going to acknowledge it.
I had no evidence to support my claim that this wasn’t due to mishandling. At every interaction I felt like I was being asked for one and then made to feel guilty for not being able to produce it. They ultimately agreed to repair the phone and wanted me to pick it up after an hour. Two hours later when the phone wasn’t ready I asked to speak with the store manager. “You understand that we are taking care of this for you?” he said. An hour later I walked out with my phone in hand wondering what were the chances of the crack showing up again. ‘Probably high’ I thought. I don’t trust them with identifying and eliminating the root cause of this issue.
I don’t trust this brand anymore.