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Mapping Experiences by James Kalbach

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PREFACE

“Then the Ping-Pong match begins.”

That’s what a customer told me about his experience with the billing process of the company I was consulting. After digging deeper and having conversations with other customers, it became clear to me what he meant.

Apparently, the company was known for sending incorrect invoices. Finding a resolution often proved difficult for customers. They instinctively called the support hotline first, but agents there weren’t empowered to fix problems with invoices. Customers then called their sales representative, who wasn’t responsible for billing issues. Relatively quickly, customers fell into an aggravating communication loop with the company.

But it got worse.

The collections department didn’t suspend its scheduled warning notices. And they didn’t know if a customer may have questioned an incorrect bill. So amidst customers’ frustration troubleshooting an incorrect bill, they received a past-due notice.

That not only added insult to injury, it also made the resolution exponentially more complicated: three or four parties were now involved, and the customer was caught in the middle. Ping-Pong, indeed.

This was not rare. I easily uncovered similar stories with just a handful of additional customer interviews. One person I spoke with recalled how absolutely livid she was when this happened. She was ready to cancel a service vital to her business just out of principle.

As a designer, I find it disheartening to hear such stories. But it’s ...

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