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Oh Adobe March 25, 2013

Posted by wooddickinson in service, Tom Peters.
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Shantanu Narayen

Shantanu Narayen

Oh Adobe. Listen, Tom Peters says that the two most important points of contact that strongly influence a customer’s opinion about your business is shaped in their coming in and their going out. I use to run movie theatres and that stuck with me. A simple, “Thank you for coming,” from an usher as they were leaving or better yet from a floor manager could and probably would leave the customer with a good feeling about your establishment.

This idea doesn’t end with movie theatres. My wife and I went to eat at Capital Grille one evening. The food and service were 5 stars. We were set IN a side room with a large table of guests in it as well. We enjoyed our dinner and were trying to talk over coffee and the other table was becoming very loud. I don’t mind others having a good time but when their good time starts to diminish mine a bargain must be struck. My wife asked our waitress if there was any way to ask the other table to hold it down a bit. The waitress left and after a few minutes returned with our check and apologized for the other tables behavior and thanked us for coming in.

When I looked at the check, Capitol Grille had completely comped the entire meal plus drinks. I was dumbstruck. They did this without making even the littlest deal out of it. I left a tip guessing the check should have been around $90 and we left.  As we left the manager thanked us for coming.  Ask me if I was impressed. This was WOW customer service and put Capitol Grille on my favorites list at OpenTable.com. This is how lifetime customers are made.

Compare this to a recent problem I had with Adobe. I’m a subscriber to the new Adobe Cloud service. It’s a great idea. I pay a monthly fee, get access to all Creative Suite software and updates that aren’t available to people buying a boxed version of CS6. I like the idea of paying a little every month and not wondering when the next update will come out and how much it will cost me. I have also downloaded parts of the CS suites that I didn’t have before and used them.

To make this all work Adobe created the Software Manager. You use for updating, installing and keeping everything running at 100%. One day when I ran this program it came up in Japanese. I went to the change language option and set it back to English but nothing happened. It was stuck in Japanese. Worse yet, this corrupted program started deleting CS6 software from my computer. I fought with this for about three weeks, reloading software, uninstalling the Program Manager and installing again and I couldn’t get things back to normal.

So, with great trepidation I called Adobe support.  I won’t bore you with an account of all that happened just trust me when I say I spent better that 8 hours on the phone (mostly on hold) until I finally found a support person who knew enough to help me truly fix the problem. I’d had two other support staff tell me it was all fixed only to find out they we’re wrong. The last support fellow seemed to be more than a tech reading from a book. All except the last fellow I talked with was in India. On my second call I asked if he would transfer me to an American because I was just having too much difficulty understanding what he was saying. I was told all support is in India so he couldn’t.

Now I have nothing against India or their people but the accent can be very difficult to navigate and I’m good at it. This is an issue in itself. A huge one but not the one I want to talk about now. After weeks of using a faulty product (work doesn’t stop), I ended spending better than 8 hours on the phone with Adobe, I felt they owed me something. So, I wrote a letter to the CEO and mailed it off. You heard me right. I looked up his name, street address, then typed it up, printed it on stationary, signed it and put a stamp on. Then I even found a mailbox and mailed it. My thinking was if he received a letter from a customer not just an email he would take notice.

Here’s the letter:

“Dear Shantanu Narayen:

I want to inform you that I had an extremely upsetting failure of your Adobe Cloud. The “application manager” decided to only run in Japanese and started randomly deleting applications.  I made a call to support and after their claim that “it’s fixed,” the problem persisted.  Another call to support elicited the same claim and again the problem persisted. A third call, using a trick to obtain support without the two-hour hold time yielded a fellow who finally understood my plight and with his help the problem was resolved.  At least for now.  That call took two hours by itself.

The total time spent on these calls, failures, on hold, failure in your call back system, over eight hours.  Can you believe that?  An entire work day was waisted trying to correct a problem that was obviously one created by your software.  You say how do I know it was your software?  It wasn’t until ALL things Adobe were sanitized from my disk and a fresh start taken to load and run the application manager did it start working correctly.  No changes were needed on my system settings.

More that the eight hours was lost with this fiasco.  I lost almost a weeks worth of work that I had to make up with some very late nights.  Some of us do try to make a living using your software and these kinds of incidents are unacceptable.  I am a subscriber to Adobe Cloud and what I want in return for the lost productivity, possibly a lost job and time spent with your support failing to correct the problem is one year of Adobe Cloud services added to my account at no charge. My account user ID IS XXXX.  The order number is …….5339DT.  I’m currently paying $32.70 per month (tax included) so I don’t feel $392.40 will break your company.  That seems like an extremely fair amount of compensation for all the aggravation, lost productivity, late hours and hardship caused by the failure of your software, and support team.  Please contact me with verification of this ASAP.  Email me at the above address or call my cell. 

Sincerely,”

Well, I was wrong. I received an email from Shivangi Moitra of Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team. What ever that is. In my letter I’d asked for a year free of the cloud service to compensate for my time, aggravation and their repeated failures at fixing the problem.  Shivangi informed me they were sorry for my problems and they would credit me 60 days not the 365 I’d asked for. Now do you think they just rubbed salt in the wound? You bet. I email Ms Moitra:

Hi Wood,

My name is Shivangi Moitra from Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team and I am contacting you in response to your letter addressed to Mr Narayen dated 8th March 2013.

Kindly accept my apologies on behalf of Adobe Systems for the inconvenience you have experienced with the Creative Cloud subscription. We will certainly use this as an opportunity to improve the quality of service we provide to our customers and the appropriate people in management have been notified of your concerns.

Since you were not able to use the subscription for certain days due to technical glitche (SIC), please note that the subscription account under Adobe order # …5668198 has been credited with 60 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th June 2013.

Please let me know if you have further queries and I shall be happy to assist.”

Well I did have further queries!

I wrote:

Shivangi,

Of course I will gladly take the 60 day extension to my account but I asked for 365 days. I also wrote to Mr. Narayen. I’m saddened he’s too busy for one of his customers. Remember we lowly customers are the only reason there is an Adobe, I’m just sayin’.

Look, I took the time to craft a real letter on paper and everything then mailed it. Who does that? Me I guess. I’m a writer but for the effort I expended writing a real letter then mailing it to him I was hoping he would see just how upset I was. I mean really, who uses real paper letters anymore?

Maybe I did a poor job in my effort to transfer my experience to him. I mean I spent well over an entire workday in the effort to get a problem fixed that I didn’t create. By the way, get rid of your music while on hold. I about went crazy listening to it and that’s no joke. It’s just one more piece of grief I suffered trying to get your software to work.

What does it cost for you to give me a year of free Adobe Cloud service? Really. I think not much for the goodwill that it would have created toward your company.

In my perfect world what I would have received is a letter from Mr Narayen expressing his sorrow at Adobe’s failure to meet my needs.  Then he would have said, sure a year on me is only fair in trying to build trust and a lifetime customer.

See that would have been something and you bet everyone I could get to listen would have heard about how well Adobe responded.”

She called me and said 90 days was the max she could do even after explaining to her twice why I was unhappy with this outcome. Why didn’t she do the 90 days from the start? Why did the CEO respond? Why doesn’t Adobe care about customer service?

Her final email:

Further to our telephone conversation today, please be advised that I have credited the suibscription (sic) with additional 30 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th July 2013.

We certainly understand the inconvenience caused due to the subscription not working for you. We have noted this situation strongly and your feedback will help Adobe guide ongoing efforts to improve our services.

Assuring you best products and services in future.

Regards,

Shivangi Moitra”

Adobe has technically superior products. That’s what they’re counting on. Kind of reminds me of Microsoft and IBM. A “Be happy we’re around. All other products stink and no matter the hassle; you need us.”

So, this is the state of customer service at Adobe. If there was an equal alternative I’d be gone. They aren’t interested in lifetime customers but I already knew that based on the price of upgrades over the years. This was just another confirmation of my feelings.

Folks, we have to do better. Adobe has to do better. Take a cue from Capitol Grille. What did it cost them to comp my dinner? Knowing their grade of product is in the top 5% of beef in the nation I’d say a lot. Now what would it have cost Adobe to comp a year of cloud service. Next to nothing. The goodwill from the gift of a year extension would have way out weighed any cost.

That’s it. Wake up Adobe. Nothing’s forever.

Service? What service. June 21, 2012

Posted by wooddickinson in 1st National Bank of Omaha, Change, consulting, executive coaching, executive leadership, Flo, KitchenAid, Life Coach, Progressive, service, Systems Thinking, Thermador, Tom Peters.
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For the most part customer-service has become an oxymoron(1). As of late when I call customer-service the answer is “no way.” For example, we have a KitchenAid trash compactor sort of for the last five years. I say that because we’re on our third one. In five years I remind you. For the last of those five years the compactor has worked about 20% of the time. That’s probably generous. The same part would break and the unit wouldn’t stop trying to work when it was supposed to. It would crush the trash then the Ram would come back up but it would never stop. We’d have to jerk the door open to stop it. Beyond that if we put trash in and close the door it would start up on its own. I would finally switch it off and get our huge trash can from the garage. It looked good in our remodeled kitchen.

We’d call the service man and after the customary wait of 3 days he’d show up between 9 and noon. Say the same part needed repair, call and leave while we all waited for the part to come in. What I thought was a hoot was instead of the serviceperson returning to the shop to get the part it would be mailed to our home! We’d have to call the service company and do all this again. He’d put the part in and with in 2 days it would do the same thing.

Finally after a year they seem to have fixed the stupid compactor. I called “customer-service” and told them I’d paid for a service contract for the last year and had virtually no use of the compactor so now that it is “fixed” I wanted a year service-contract for free. Does that sound like I’m asking too much?

I was. I got told by everyone up the chain of command, “No way.” In those words. Really, that’s what they’d say. I finally got ahold of a person in the corporate office and repeated my request. I asked if Mrs. KitchenAid would mind having this unit in her house? I’d pay the shipping and installation. The response was I’d get my free year service-contract. It took me hours to accomplish this so I wouldn’t recommend KitchAid for anything.

Now I’m going through the same things with Thermador for a gas range and freezer. They haven’t worked properly since day one. Now 5 years down the road I offered the same deal. I’d pay shipping and installation to see if Mrs. CEO of Thermador was happy with these products. Of course she wouldn’t so some repair company is coming out today to “evaluate” the units. In the words of Queen Victoria, “We are not amused.”

This week my online banking with 1st National Bank of Omaha stopped working. Calls to customer-service only told me I had lost several accounts and my wife could not talk to anyone because she didn’t have my social security number. She is on all the accounts by the way.

Again I just asked for the president. I got the ubiquitous “someone” in the president’s office. I find that so funning. When I was president of Dickinson Theatres that someone in the president’s office was me. I didn’t have any “people.” I asked this women where the president was and she said she didn’t know! You think I was really talking to someone in the president’s office? I don’t think so. How insulting. She did fix my online banking though. I’ll give her that.

Okay so that’s KitchenAid, Thermador, and 1st National Bank of Omaha. All with no can do customer-service that required hours on the phone and requests to speak to the presidents but the presidents were all to busy doing something more important. Maybe playing golf.

Now it is Progressive Insurance (thankfully not my insurance company). Anyone know Flo’s number?

The point here is simple. The most important person in all of these companies isn’t the CEO or President. It’s me. The Customer. If I wasn’t around where would they be? Mr. And Mrs. KitchenAid wouldn’t have a job. You get my point! I’m so over this kind of “customer-service” I’m sick. It’s everywhere. No one can answer a phone, no president of any company will talk to a lowly customer. I guess that’s like getting your hand’s dirty. Oh god not another customer!

Help me Tom Peters. You’re my only hope…

 ________________

1 a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements (military intelligence) – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Systems Questions February 18, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, consulting, Systems Thinking.
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Systems Thinking does take work!

COMMENT FROM BLOG POST: System is often sensitive to events around itself and people handling it. To build a system, the future needs to be presumed or projected with all sorts of possible trajectories, I would like to ask you some questions regarding the same:

a) Is it possible to anticipate such trajectories?
b) Since we break the systems into various sub-systems, how are some properties obsolete to the other connected systems while effective to systems aligned much further in the same system as sub-systems? Is feedback the part we are considering or the carry-forward mechanism the reason behind it?

Some time back I received this comment and I’d like to explore it a bit.  To be clear systems are part of the natural order of things.  The solar system, the life cycle of organisms, atomic structure and so on.  All these things and really everything is comprised of some sort of systemic force.

There are times we are fully aware of this.  Say the gravitational system as described by Sir Isaac  Newton.  This system was used to get us to and from the moon.  Now man made organizations are structures that we put together and the truth is, we may not do a very good job.  If we don’t acknowledge systems then we are working blind and can’t even begin to guess the outcome. But we try.

Even simple things like a teenager starting a lawn mowing venture to make money for college contains systems.  One of the primary drivers behind systems is the feedback loop.  If the boy cuts the grass well but never trims around the trees, he may look at the grass and think, “Job well done.” The client on the other hand looks at the whole yard and notices right away the grass around the trees hans’t been trimmed.  He thinks, “Sloppy and lazy. I need a new boy to cut the grass.” What we now have is a closed system.

One good explanation of this idea is:

“A system, then, is a set of things that affect one another within an environment and form a larger pattern that is different from any of the parts. The fundamental systems-interactive paradigm of organizational analysis features the continual stages of input, throughput (processing), and output, which demonstrate the concept of openness/closedness. A closed system does not interact with its environment. It does not take in information and therefore is likely to atrophy, that is to vanish. An open system receives information, which it uses to interact dynamically with its environment. Openness increases its likelihood to survive and prosper. Several system characteristics are: wholeness and interdependence (the whole is more than the sum of all parts), correlations, perceiving causes, chain of influence, hierarchy, supra-systems and subsystems, self-regulation and control, goal-oriented, interchange with the environment, inputs/outputs, the need for balance/homeostasis, change and adaptability (morphogenesis) and equifinality: there are various ways to achieve goals. Different types of networks are: line, commune, hierarchy and dictator networks. Communication in this perspective can be seen as an integrated process – not as an isolated event.” - cited from UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE (http://www.utwente.nl/en)

Simply if the boy doesn’t open up his lawn mowing system to include a feedback loop that he can access entropy will claim his business and he will be looking for another way to make money.  This would be a rather simple system, something like this:

This is a closed system that doesn’t allow any feedback so after time the homeowner will get tiered of the bad job and fire the boy. The boy’s business collapses.

Now to ignore that this system exists is fatal so one element needs to be added to save it

With the feedback element added the boy asks for feedback from the client before he goes home. The owner says the trimming needs to be done and the boy makes adjustments to the system and the systems grows and stays alive.

Now this is a simple example but it is a starting point. This theory is useful in business to family relationships. Map the system and you can see where problems are then add the proper feedback loops to allow correction to the system.

So to answer the first question about predictability, yes you can gauge the result of certain process by mapping the system BEFORE you start and check it constantly for errors and keep correcting so the feedback remains useful. Harley Davidson has a very specific process for chroming it’s parts. This process must be mapped out so feedback can come at the critical time to avoid putting faulty parks on a bike. It can also indicate changes that need to be made to the process so it expands and becomes more effective and cost efficient.

As to the second question, yes complex systems may have many various subsystems.  Each part must add back to the whole so if a certain subsystem seems to be failing one possibility is to end that part of the process or redesign the system to incorporate that subsystem somewhere else. You can’t just let a subsystem fail and ignore it. One of the primary reason to use systems thinking is so you have feedback loops in place to help guide the people working the system and allow a natural change process to take place.

Why Learning is Important November 5, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, consulting, executive leadership, Systems Thinking.
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I have people ask me what I mean when I say Learning Organization.  Everyone feels like they learn every day but I ask you to stop and think about it. Does your organization allow teams to fail? Does your organization examine the actual systemic forces acting on it? Does your organization capture information useful across team lines and store it and share it in a truly useful way?

Usually the answer to these questions is no but why should I care what other teams are doing? If you haven’t noticed we are living in chaotic times. Jobs seem iffy, company survival is being tested to its fullest. If there ever was a period of uncertain times, chaotic change and second guessing going on I don’t know when its been. Not in my lifetime.

With the workforce of companies shrinking due to uncertainty employees are being asked to shoulder more responsibility which brings with it a greater chance at failure and ultimately unemployment. This is why you care about ALL the teams. We are in this together and I don’t mean just organizations in isolation. Wholesalers must talk to store owners who must talk with manufacturers so a complete picture can be gained and knee jerk reactions minimized.

The best way to do this is to delve into systems. Learn what is really going on. Look at what the principle stock is then what are the balancing feedback loops and what’s in the reinforcing feedback loops. You need to identify the driving variables so the shifting dominance in the system can be studied.

Dynamic systems research doesn’t predict the future it explores what might happen. This gives you valuable information that will affect decision-making. When all teams are working this way and you extend the systems out toward all companies that have an impact on your product or service then everyone learns what may be coming and can make better use of what little time we have to do the right things.

This sounds oh so difficult but it isn’t really. A systems thinker can look at a situation and from even a small amount of data make predictions of what might happen if the organization keeps to its current course without regard to the systems operating around it.

I saw a situation unfold in one North Face retail store that spoke volumes to me. From the limited information I had I predicted trouble was coming. I could tell they didn’t understand retail operations and were making choices based on personal loyalty regardless of what the store employees were telling the company. They completely failed at delving into systems having an impact on retail operations and I saw failure in their future with the closing of all retail outlets with in five years.

North Face makes a tremendous product but they need to leave selling it to outfitter and other retail operations that know what they are doing. The environment that has been created in their own retail stores is one which has pitted floor employees against management. No learning going on here. Check them out and see where North Face is a year from now.

Just think about it. We are all in this together. There’s enough competition without creating more with in the walls of your own company.

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