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Posted by Ronald Rogowski on March 3, 2011
At some point in our lives, we all go through the challenge of moving, and it isn’t a whole lot of fun, even when it should be. You have to find a place to move, make offers, secure loans and income verification… all that fun stuff that you swear to yourself you’ll never go through again because it’s such a hassle. For me, it’s not the boxes, the upheaval of routine, or even the challenge of dealing with all the administrivia that seems to pop up just when you think all the paperwork is in order. No. What I dislike most is changing my address for subscriptions, financial accounts, and other services.
At some point we all have to go through the basic task of updating our personal information with a company. It’s simple self-service task, right? You log in to your account, click on a link that says “change mailing address,” input your new information, and move on. You may even get a reassuring email confirming that your information has been changed. It seems so simple — and in this day and age it should be. But why, then, do companies make it so hard to change your address online?
In the past week I must have gone through the process at least 20 times and found a range of problems including:
It’s pretty simple to model losses from having these problems with such a simple task as changing an address. What is essentially a no cost transaction online can cost several dollars for each time it’s done over the phone — not to mention the damage done to reputation when customers get so frustrated that they’re cursing at their screens (guilty!) and the convoluted IVR prompts they get on the phone (see “cursing”) when they call to make a simple address change. In a world where companies are chasing ideas like “surprise and delight” they have to remember to get the basics right. How can you surprise and delight someone with a free product sample if you can’t keep track of where they live?
So what should firms do?