It must have been like any normal day in the office with people heads down on their computers, stroking the keyboard hard, and trying to finish what they started. I could only imagine the manager walking down to the team area and calling for an emergency meeting, only to announce that the organisation was just fined a couple of million pounds and they need to find a root cause for the issue.
Startled with what they have just heard, the room got filled with hissing and murmuring sounds. “Let’s discuss this together”, said the manager in a commanding tone, slightly agitated at the same time as he and his team were responsible to prepare a report.
It was indeed a bad day for the organisation, a telecom giant, who had been fined by the regulators for overcharging the consumers due to discrepancies in the billing system. Going by the news doing the round, the impression one gets is that the customer care department did a pathetic job at dealing with complaints. But, on a deeper analysis of the situation the flaw seemed with the software which dealt with consumer billing.
Back in the meeting room, fingers were being pointed and heated exchanges were a common sight. However, it was a collective failure of sorts. The business analyst failed to identify the use case, the development team did not cater in the specific conditions, and almost all the teams involved did not ensure the right checks were enabled.
I really can’t and should not be commenting about what went wrong cause I was not there when this all happened. However, what I can do now is to highlight the importance of what I’ve been learning since the day I started my job – capture the gaps and potential bugs as early in the development cycle as possible. Even if there were no gaps, the use cases should have been verified thoroughly when the system is made live. If the billing rates had to change from mid of December then how could they not till mid-January? If the person is calling from EU zone then how could he be charged like he was calling to the US?
I’m not sure if these were specific scenarios or if they should have been captured. I can’t even tell if these scenarios were captured indeed. However, the teams involved did overlook the changes and for a long time (about a month). While the customer service failed to act on complaints or feedbacks, which is the most important phase in any service industry. Was the organisation bit lazy to act or was daring to challenge that nothing could happen to them? Whatever it may be, they paid a hefty price for their actions.
“Alienate your customers from the business, and soon you’ll have no business to run.”
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