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Sick as a Parrot

Optimize Blog - March 12, 2010 - 0 comments

What is it with Bank of America?  Some of you may recall that we’ve commented before on their seemingly random approach to customer service and, yet again, they’ve made the headlines for a disastrously complete example of customer alienation.  This time, though, it apparently involves the rather pointless misappropriation of Luke, a pet parrot.
Regardless of our views, many people love their pet parrots and now Angela Iannelli, Luke’s ‘distraught’ owner, is suing the Bank for $50,000 in damages. That should pay for plenty of bird seed…
The story goes that the bank, in the mistaken view that the customer had defaulted on her mortgage, allegedly instructed a third party contractor to “secure” the property.  The contractor was clearly very thorough, changing the locks and cutting off services but, in the course of executing the instruction, also decided to ‘liberate’ the increasingly agitated Luke – much to Ms Iannelli’s emotional distress.
Clearly distraught, Ms Iannelli contacted her Bank in an attempt to resolve the misunderstanding and, not least, arrange the return of her beloved pet, Luke.
However the ‘customer services’ person she spoke with allegedly gave her the auditory equivalent of  the ‘cold shoulder’ and merely suggested that she call the police to find her pet.  Eventually it seems that the Bank’s representative resorting to hanging up the phone on her because they were ‘tired’ of Ms Iannelli and her efforts to retrieve Luke.  Ultimately the Bank did let her know that she could recover Luke from the contractor’s office a mere 80 miles away.  (We’re assuming that parrots either can’t fly that far or don’t have the same homing instincts of some their smaller feathered cousins).
Now, whilst we all know that customer service is important and clearly an opportunity was lost here to make reparation quickly and to undo the damage caused by this error, this situation of third party contractors representing you and your brand is an important issue.
Outsourcing is a valid option and inevitably necessary where it makes no sense to have the task performed as a core competence.  However, when establishing outsourcing operations, it is often cost that is the driver rather than quality.  No doubt there will be an investigation in this case regarding the gap in expectations from the client and the contracted party.  When so much is invested in a brand it is concerning that it can be undermined so easily by third parties.
So, if you are outsourcing or are considering outsourcing parts of your operation, this is a timely reminder to ensure that you have appropriate quality control and an effective governance process, service standards and KPI’s that you can measure.
The Bank of America is investigating but most importantly we understand that Luke has been reunited with his owner and apparently is doing well…

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