Thursday, April 13, 2006

Broken Workflows

A nice and easy way to lose customers is to carefully implement broken workflows in your business. This is not an easy task and you might need professional assistance for succeeding in such a bold endeavor.

Or you can take real world examples as models.

Like Free, the French ISP, which is so hard to leave. Their broken workflow strategy is based on the MPOC Paradigm. The MPOC, or Multiple Point Of Contact, is the inefficient counterpart of the SPOC, or Single Point Of Contact. As such, the MPOC can increase the difficulty of reconciliation related messages, increasing the chance of breaking any existing workflow. Free (not as in beer) has established two points of contacts for subscription termination: one that deals with the physical aspects (like modem return) and one that deals with contracts and payment aspects. Needless to say that this is a big success: it is guaranteed to take a few months and many certified letters to terminate a subscription. Great job!

Or like Dell France, where a great deal of mastery has been deployed to ensure that you will not spend your money there. They follow the Black Hole Paradigm, where messages are either held captive, buried or lost. This is a very complex strategy whose main purpose is to prevent any form of end-user feedback and disable useless mechanisms like escalation. Dell masters this delicate art and uses it brilliantly: your internet order will be held captive for weeks before you get any feedback (while 72 hours maximum was announced), the web interface to query the order status will consistently return nothing and the commercial services that you can reach on the phone will not have internal access to any information about your order. Amazing implementation!

These are only two random examples but I am sure they will be very useful for anyone interested in broken workflows.

Have you experimented other broken workflows strategies or paradigms? Please do share them here!