August 15, 2009

Child's Play (For The Gifted)

It's maddening how many brands insist that switching to their offer or service is 'child's play'. In my experience, it's anything but.

Whilst they claim that signing up or changing over is as simple as 1-2-3, I often find myself counting to a hundred before the switch is made (sometimes just to stop me punching someone or something). Each step is fraught with difficulty or unexpected obstacles (to which the common customer-care response is 'Oh, I can't understand why that's not working, it's never happened before').

Even when I registered online with Payzone recently (very simple, in fairness), activated my account online (apparently quite simple), stuck my parking disc to my windscreen, then went to pay for my on-street parking, I spent almost twenty-five minutes with Customer Care before finally receiving the text confirming I'd paid (anything but simple). As usual, it wasn't enough that I supplied my name and mobile number when I called the helpline; I then had to run around the car in the rain to reconfirm my registration number and my disc number. Has nobody come up with a database system that enables operators to call up all information based on the details of one data field?

Imagine if I applied the same approach in my work (Note: Michael is a client of many years):
Hello, this is Islandbridge Brand Development, Gerard speaking. How can I help?
Gerard, Michael Lennon here.
Michael, thanks for calling, can you please confirm your company name? company name?
Yes, please confirm your company name.
Westport Woods Hotel.
And your username?
My username?
Yes, please confirm your username.
I'm not sure...Michael...MichaelLennon (one word)?
No Michael, that's not correct.
Maybe MLennon, Michael Underscore Lennon...honestly, Gerard, I can't remember.
We have a Michael Underscore Lennon; can you please enter your password?
My password? My password? Gerard, you can't be serious.

And he'd be right.

I certainly wouldn't even get so far as to ask him his mother's maiden name. (Yes, Payzone needed that information too). Surely a business that cares about its customers, doesn't make them go through such a rigmarole just to access the service.

Now, I appreciate that security issues often require that we verify someone's credentials before releasing certain information but Payzone and others go too far.

A brand that's offering a refreshing antidote to the 'easy-peasy' deception is Simple Assembly Me Hole, which offers flat-pack furniture victims the option of calling a handyman to put that apparently innocent but demonically difficult chest of drawers together (Save Time, Save Hassle, Save Your Marriage).

I cannot begin to explain the sense of dread I have when my other half proposes a new piece of furniture from one of the multiples. But evidently the good people over at Simple Assembly know how I, and presumably thousands of others, feel.

Mind you, when I see the ease with which my own three kids tackle the various technologies, perhaps some things really are child's play and I'm just too old (or slow) to get it.

Over To You: What blatantly-misleading brand promises get you into a lather?

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