Lulu Announce Customer Service Improvements

Today Lulu announced some improvements in their customer care in another effort to re-address the imbalance created by recent changes to Lulu processes and staffing cut backs.

Whatever you argue about how recent changes at Lulu have been detrimental to customer care and business – Lulu do good apologies!

On the Lulu blog, Sandra Parker, Customer Support and Services Manager, stated;

“One of the things we have consistently heard is that our support has not been sufficient and we want to assure you that this is not our intent. All of our customers are important to us and it is always our goal to provide you with a positive and successful publishing experience. I would like to personally apologize for the experiences many of you have encountered with untimely responses.”

“Lulu’s business is growing at a rapid rate. Self-publishing is no longer a novelty and more of you are interested in connecting with someone at Lulu to better understand our business, our site and our policies. Unfortunately the support and services team has not implemented measures quickly enough to meet this demand. We are working to accommodate this growth, and have already taken steps towards rectifying the situation.”

Lulu are proposing the following changes and improvements to address some of the issues which have been raised here on this site (see Lulu – Acting The Teapot With Amazon’s Marketplace and Nick Popio from Lulu and his comments to that posting), and elsewhere on the Internet.

“We have analyzed our growth data in order to effectively scale our team to support the demands of the Lulu customer base. Lulu is actively seeking the talent that is necessary to support you.”

Great business speak, but already Lulu have forgotten who the message is supposed to be addressing. Are Lulu intending to ‘scale’ up or down to support customer demands, and does this mean Lulu are going to re-recruit any staff let go in their first ‘scaling’ exercise.

Customer Relationship Management
“We are implementing a new CRM system that will allow us to view our customers at a glance. This will enable us to learn more about each of our customers and allow us to tailor our support based on your needs.”

So, the customer relationship is going to be based upon a ‘glance’. Impressive. Having worked in the customer services industry for many years, I always though a company managed their products, services and staff, rather than their customers. Get the first three elements right and you don’t need to ‘manage your customer relations’. Certainly gaining as much information about your customers is critical, but I would have thought engaging with them through the now defunct ‘Chat Support’ was actually the best way to do that, as well as their on line Lulu Forum. Maybe Lulu have come up with a better method of gaining this information at a ‘glance’, but they are not telling us what it actually is.

Customer Messaging
“We are in the process of creating a page on our site that will provide you with your rights as a customer of Lulu. This page will be provided by the support and services team to include information about our support policies, order policies, shipping methods and times as well as up-to-date notices about volume and response times.”

Helpful to have this all in one place but it does sound like more of a ‘Terms & Conditions’ page.

Top 10 List and Support Knowledgebase
“We are creating a page within Help that will provide you with an up-to-date list of our top 10 inquiries in Customer Support and the resolutions for them. We do realize that this may not help every customer but it will address many of the most frequently asked questions. We are also creating new tutorials to help you navigate the Lulu site and assist with the creation of your projects. Please let us know what you would like to see from us by commenting to this post.”

This may help, but I suspect it is as much about taking the direct pressure off the CS team, than providing immediate answers to customers.

Feedback-Based Decisions
“We value your feedback and realize that, without it, we cannot improve. We have implemented a process that allows us to take your feedback and use it to structure plans for improvement. Please continue to provide honest feedback so that we may continue to evolve into the support organization that you need us to be.”

It seems to me many of the difficulties Lulu have had in developments have been caused by their own implemented changes which lacked long term foresight and planning.

“We believe that all of the above will help Lulu’s Customer Support and Services to serve you quickly and accurately. This is an ongoing project, and we will continue to look for new ways to improve your experience with Lulu. We appreciate your business and your patience and apologize for the difficulties you have encountered up to this point. Here’s to the future!”

I am in no doubt Lulu are sincere in their efforts to fully develop into the leading author solutions company they were, and still should be, but it is often the very changes they speak of above which have tripped them and their services up in the past.

We can only wait and hope that these changes will bring about the improvements Lulu have at least identified.

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