This story has a long history, so long that I’m starting at the end.
There’s always room for process improvement, especially in corporate America. Even well-oiled machines need tweaking to keep them running smoothly. Comcast, my home telephone provider–yes, I said home phone, not cell phone (and yes, they still exist)–made changes to their customer’s online account management system. This change inadvertently locked my online account keeping me from accessing my monthly bills which took 4 different customer support sessions and supreme patience to fix. During the last session the support rep discovered a way for me to re-access my account. This fix required him to change my password.
Reunited with my online identity, I changed my password, email, secret question, and secret question’s answer away from factory settings. Two weeks later I received 6 Comcast snail mail letters. I opened them thinking their mail system probably choked and spit me out 6 identical letters. Nope.
The first letter told me I changed my password.
The second letter told me I changed my email.
The third letter told me I changed my password.
The fourth letter told me I changed my secret question.
The fifth letter told me I changed my password.
The sixth letter told me I changed the secret answer to my secret question.
Wow. 30 minutes = 6 changes = 6 letters or 1 letter per change. Imagine hundreds of customers doing this each day. The customer service rep probably changed my password twice, hence three password letters.
I appreciate Comcast’s desire to alert me; after all, it’s done in good faith to prevent account fraud. But I think this process needs revamping. I feel this process would run smoother if previous to sending letters, Comcast checked against two criteria: 1) how many times account settings changed during a 24 hour period, and 2) how many log in sessions resulted in account setting changes.
Letters could be sent based on the military 24-hour period: one letter per period no matter how many times that user logged in and changed their settings. If a user was logged in and making changes before and after the 0000 (12:00 a.m.) time mark, those changes would all count for the next day.
The exact times should be adjusted to minimize how many letters are sent to each customer, accounting for the hours when most changes are made in general among customers.
After checking the pre-send criteria, the letters could list in order the changes made during the 24-hour period. If a user changed their password twice in a row, the letter would list “changed password” twice in a row, including the time each change occurred. In addition, I would personally appreciate an indication of changes made via customer services.
I’ve created a super quick mock up of how I envision this letter.
This process revamp 1) reminds customers when they made the change, 2) creates a friendlier user experience, 3) saves paper, 4) displays the customer’s data changes in an easy-to-read, accessible, and organized list instead of mixed in with regular paragraph text.
As a frequent online consumer and account holder, I’d find it particularly refreshing if companies (not just Comcast) would make a greater effort towards user friendliness in their snail mail correspondence. Living in a digital age doesn’t excuse paper communication from being user-friendly. If anything, it increases its importance more than before.
To my readers, I’m keen to know your ideas or thoughts. Do you have any other ideas to increase the customer’s experience using these letters? Let’s hear them in the comments below.