Imagine you find yourself suddenly without access to the email you depend on every day. You’re not sure exactly why the access has been denied, but even worse – there are no phone numbers to call a person for help. When you finally do send the message, you’re given few details on what appears to have been a compromise. Your faceless and monolithic email provider eventually returns access and you carry on, shaken over the experience. Over the last few years, I’ve seen an interesting and troubling rise of this phenomenon. Companies – especially those providing infrastructure – are acting more distant and heavy-handed.
And, you could say this is happening everywhere. Google appears to have no phone number, and if your email access is shut down, you’ll struggle to get it back. If a virus hits your local network and starts sending illicit data, your ISP will shut down your connection and tell you nothing but “It’s a virus, stupid. Call us when you fix it and we’ll turn it back on”. Banks monitor accounts, and when a charge appears outside a pattern, they’ll cancel your cards and restrict access to the account. Blackberry runs a proprietary network, and when you contact the ISP about it, they’ll say “We know about it, and we’re working on it. We can’t say any more”. Paypal has numerous tactics to keep you from accessing or using money, and contacting them is pure hell if you fall outside the normal approval process.
More often than not, these obtuse, heavy-handed actions hurt the customer more than help them. I find it interesting that many large companies that appear to promote services as world-class, absolutely fail at providing the most basic details when a customer is in real need. Customer service is ready to be disrupted by companies who will provide real information to customers in the process of protecting them.