Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Not paying attention to detail ruins customer satisfaction - The Union Leader

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Not paying attention to detail ruins customer satisfaction - The Union Leader

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Not paying attention to detail ruins customer satisfaction - The Union Leader

Posted: 04 Jan 2020 06:00 PM PST

IN TODAY'S WORLD dominated by technology, consumers have high expectations. We expect things to work. We expect information fast. We expect companies to have processes and tactics that deliver a positive customer experience. And when things don't work, we get irritated. The fact is, consumers today have an extremely low tolerance for companies that can't get things right.

Closing the Deal by Christopher Thompson

One of the realizations I had several years ago is that every company has problems. Regardless of how successful a company may appear, within its wall, problems exist. Those problems vary in size and severity, but one thing is for certain: Every company is facing unique challenges and doing whatever it can to figure out how to solve them.

One of the most important roles leadership teams play within a company is to identify the problems that pose significant risk and figure out how to fix them. That's easier said than done. But identifying the problems is the most critical step. And from what I've seen, so many companies can't even do that well.

As a consumer, I have identified a few examples of companies failing to pay attention to detail. These simple problems cause customers to become frustrated and over time impact the long-term success of the company.

Fix your gas pumps

There are few things I find more irritating than starting to pump gas and realize the latch that holds the pump lever is broken and won't let me take my hand off the handle. It's one of the simplest things. Nobody wants to sit there and stare at the gas pump while being forced to hold the handle. Every time I experience this, I put in the bare minimum of gas I need and never return to that gas station. And I can guarantee you most people do the same. A simple piece of metal is causing you to lose a lot of money and customers. Get a grip, literally.

Cell service

In the year 2020, I'm amazed that I still cannot be on a phone call during my commute home without losing cell service and having a call drop. This blows my mind and I struggle to understand how it's possible to be anywhere in New Hampshire and not have the ability to use a cell phone. It just doesn't make sense to me. Why haven't the cellular companies identified the dead zones and done something about it? Perhaps it's the hardcore environmentalists who fight every cell tower proposal. Regardless of the reasons, it's not only extremely annoying and pathetic, it also poses a serious safety risk to those who need emergency services.

Autocorrect failures

Why can't I type what I want on my phone without Apple trying to tell me what I should be writing? I come close to tossing my phone in the trash every time I'm trying to type something, but the autocorrect function overrules my fingers and decides to type something else. While this feature can help increase typing speed and errors, it appears to use no common sense or take into consideration what has already been written. This is not complex technology. Fix it, please.

At least acknowledge people

Have you ever gone to a restaurant or bar and stood there watching the bartender or waitstaff go about their work without saying a single word to you or acknowledging your existence? This happened to me the other day. I stood at bar waiting to order a drink and the bartender took 10 minutes to even make eye contact. It wasn't busy, either. He had other customers, but there was no reason why he couldn't at least say "hi" and let me know he'd be right with me. If you can't handle that basic task, it may be time to look into another career.

The small details matter in business. And they matter more than most people realize.

How to create a Social Security account online if your credit file is frozen: Money Matters -

Posted: 05 Jan 2020 06:53 AM PST

Q: Regarding your Dec. 8 column about credit freezes: My son froze my credit files because of the Equifax problem. This freeze has now prevented me from opening an online Social Security account. They tell me I can go to a SSA office to prove who I am. Such a pain. You can't make an appointment. You have to show up and hope they will get to you. Don't know if this freeze affects anything else.

G.T., Cleveland

A: I have a better option for you: Thaw your credit file with Equifax for a few days. This will allow you to create your online Social Security account without going to the Social Security Administration office in person. Call Equifax at 800-685-1111. Make sure you have the PIN you were given when you froze your files. Thawing it for a few days should give you plenty of time to create your online account. You should be able to thaw your file in about three minutes.

The SSA relies on out-of-wallet information, or facts beyond your address, date of birth, mother's maiden name,, etc., to try to verify your identity. The information comes from your credit file. I'm sure this requirement thwarts the vast majority of fraudulent attempts. If your file is frozen, the SSA can't access it to try to verify your identity.

To create an SSA account online, you'll be asked multiple-choice questions such as "Which of these four streets did you live on 10 years ago?" and "What make and model of car do you drive?" and "What year did you take out your mortgage?" These are questions that some people around you would know.

To anyone who thinks he doesn't want to freeze his credit files because it'd be a hassle to create an online Social Security account, I offer this: If you were concerned enough about protecting your personal information and your finances to freeze your credit files, you should be interested in creating an online Social Security account.

In fact, the Social Security Administration itself urges everyone to create an online account just so someone else can't do it for you and potentially steal your benefits, your direct deposit information or something else. If you create the account, you don't have to ever use it. And you don't have to be retired to create your account.

To your original point, I agree that walking into the Social Security office without an appointment can be dreaded. I've often said this is what hell must be like: One day you deal with the Social Security office, one day you try to resolve an erroneous medical bill, one day you deal with the finance person at the car dealership, one day you file for unemployment, one day you shop for a used car (no rust, the ad says), one day you deal with the IRS or RITA or any other tax office … And then it's lather, rinse, repeat.

Q: I received an infuriating call early this morning that I thought you might want to hear about: The automated voice informed me that he was calling from the Illuminating Co. and that my electric power would be turned off in 30 minutes because of a "billing dispute," and that I should call an 800 number immediately to stop the termination of my service. He repeated the number twice and then hung up. The number was 1-800-979-1602.

I realized instantly that this was a scam. All my electricity payments are up to date and always have been.

It made me think of all the poor and elderly people who would be terrified by a call like this in the wintertime, would respond to the given number and would end up disclosing all their personal information. I can't believe that with all our modern technology we can't trace these numbers back to the source and shut these monsters down.

J.L., Cleveland

A: I agree with everything you said and offer my thanks for passing this along. I write all of the time about how bad guys call folks in hopes of scaring the stuffing out of them enough to cause them to suspend their common sense and return a phone call to a scammer. If they rip off one out of 100 people who answer the phone, that's a good day's work.

Regulators and the phone companies are working to shut these con artists down. And they're making progress. But it's like a bad game of whack-a-mole: For every one that gets squashed, another pops up.

We can't warn our vulnerable friends and relatives enough to watch out for these scams. Here's the easy advice: If you get any call you weren't expecting that issues a threat or asks for personal information, chances are really, really high it's a scam.

If you're concerned that your electricity is being shut off or you're going to be put in jail for back taxes or your bank account will be frozen, call the entity at a number you look up independently.

Murray is The Plain Dealer's personal finance writer. Because of the volume of requests, she cannot help everyone who contacts her. To reach her: On Facebook: MurrayMoneyMatters. On Twitter: @teresamurray. Previous columns online:

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