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Top Priorities – Customer Experience – Linksys comedy

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Tue, Apr 6, 2010

Is it comforting to know that even the big guys get things wrong when it comes to customer experience?  Maybe I'm daft, but yesterday when I attempted to replace my old wireless router with a new Linksys [Cisco] wireless router there seemed to be a clear disconnect between what the customer might experience and Linksys efforts to resolve potential problems. 

describe the imageAfter inserting the CD and following the instructions the router wasn't working.  I followed instructions to restart the router, reconnect the internet connections, yet after several attempts, it still indicated the router wasn't installed properly.  I still couldn't access the Internet.  The CD indicated I should click on a link for help for instructions.  Here's what that link told me to do.  Go to  Tell me I'm wrong if I'm missing something, how am I supposed to get help from their website if I can't connect to the Internet?  Wouldn't you think someone at Linksys would recognize this?  Is this there attempt to reduce phone calls and direct everything to a reduced cost of customer service?  At the moment I realized the insanity of what they were asking me to do I was truly prepared to take the router back and find another brand that would be more in tune with my customer experience. 

Unfortunately the pain of returning it versus reconnecting my old router must have been greater.  I finally got to their website, started a chat, asked for a phone number and connected with someone who could help me with a solution.  The whole experience took about 2 hours.  Very disappointing!  

Cisco purchased Linksys in 2003.  As Gazelles coaches, Linksys, a privately held company [Victor Tsao and his wife, Janie, started Linksys in their garage in Irvine, Calif., in 1988, and sold it 15 years later for $500 million to Cisco Systems] was offered frequently as an example of how to stay in touch with your customers and employees.   

How could a company that built its growth by weekly seeking out input from their customers and employees miss this mistake in customer service?   Am I missing something in this equation?  I realize that most large companies don't want phone calls to their customer service and support teams.  It costs too much to support a $120 purchase with support staff.  Is this something they simply overlooked or is it a flaw in their system?

Getting customer and employee feedback on a weekly basis can prevent errors that can cost you customers.   When you have the right strategic disciplines in place for weekly meeting rhythms, complaints, comments and compliments get to supervisors and then up the food chain to management where decisions are made.   As I understand it Victor himself had a website where his employees could provide information on problems like this which he could identify and then get his management team to solve.

Is my customer experience wrong here?  When I explained this to my eleven year old son he thought it was comical.  Are there customer related experiences going on that your staff knows about that you should be resolving?  Are you in touch with your customers to hear what they are saying about your product and services so you can make changes and resolve issues they are facing?  Is there opportunity in their issues and challenges that your products and services can offer?   Staying in touch with your customers can be as complicated as collecting comments, complaints and compliments from your front line staff to as easy as requiring your executive team to contact one customer a week.  But it requires Strategic Discipline.  Does your company have it?

Topics: customer survey, Strategic Discipline, Top Priority, Discipline Plan, priorities, customer satisfaction metrics, Core Competencies

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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