You Might Have a Customer Experience Problem If…
Customer experiences have not kept pace with customer expectations, which have changed dramatically over the past decade. This change has been driven by technology, primarily mobile devices, which can instantly satisfy a customer’s need for information, to communicate with others or to complete an online purchase. Let’s face it, none of us like to wait and we want our needs met – now! Call it the age of the impatient, narcissistic consumer, but it will no doubt govern the way companies deliver products and services to their customers for the foreseeable future.
If you a) are hearing complaints from your customers, and you are fortunate if they actually share their concerns with you, b) are noticing your customer loyalty or net promotes scores are declining or c) are losing market share to more tech-savvy competitors, you likely have a customer experience (CX) challenge that needs attention. Here’s a handy guide to help you decide if it’s time for an intervention. To borrow a phrase from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you might have a CX problem if:
Your product or service requires a user manual or a call to a customer service agent.
If your customers can’t figure it out without a manual, your product or service is too complicated. The expectation today is that customer interactions will be convenient, intuitive and fast. If you have a high volume of customers requesting help from your call center or downloading user manuals from your website (if they can find them), it is time to address the complexity of your product or service offering.
Your product or service assumes your customers have nefarious motives.
Many companies are so concerned about managing risk and preventing fraud initiated by only the two percent of customers who might have unethical intentions, that they ruin the experience for the 98 percent of customers who are honest and forthright. If you are putting obstacles between you and your customers by requiring repetitive account validation steps or charging fees to prevent customers from canceling services after one-time use, stop. It is far better to be clever in defeating the evildoers than to treat every customer like a potential criminal.
As an example, a large national rental car company allows its loyalty program members to transfer points for a free rental to another loyalty program member. However, if the transferee is not yet a member, they must sign up and have their membership in-force for 48 hours before they can use it. This unnecessary delay is just another “speed bump” on the road to a great customer experience. Worse, from this interaction you have told your most loyal customers that you do not trust them, as they might have nefarious intentions in making this transaction – ouch!
Your communication and/or distribution channels are not integrated.
If your online versus in-store experience is inconsistent and disconnected, you’re way behind the times. Each customer touchpoint, regardless of the channel, forms an impression. Add to that, multiple channels with their own unique customer touch points and you have a created an opportunity where each of these channels can reinforce or diminish each other and either strengthen or weaken your brand. Customers expect an integrated experience across your online, mobile, call center, email, postal mail, social and physical channels. Make it seamless and you’ll see a huge uptick in sales and customer loyalty.
You try to coerce your customers into doing something that defies logic.
One of the oddest examples we’ve heard is a major retailer that offers discounts for online purchases, but will not extend those discounts in the store. The smart customer, of course, will pull out her smart phone in the store, buy the product and select “store pick up” instead of “shipping” to bypass the obstacle the company has created and get the discount. The customer leaves satisfied, but annoyed.
The company probably set up a promotion to improve their online sales, but it made no sense to the customer. It is far better to help customers easily obtain and use your discounts, like a massage therapy business we know. They offer a membership program with volume discounts and remind their customers of available credits so they don’t miss out on the discounts they are due. They’re instilling customer loyalty by both providing discounts and ensuring the customer uses them by coming into their establishment more frequently. The result – customers feel appreciated.
You fail to infer customer preferences after multiple interactions with your company, or worse, you fail to ask customers for their preferences. If you haven’t figured your customers out after a handful of interactions, you’re not serious about CX.
You can find examples of this all over the web – booking travel (preferred destinations, booking class), ordering take-out food (your favorite pizza toppings), purchasing prescriptions online (reminder when a 90-day prescription is about to expire), purchasing clothes (male/female, colors, sizes), etc. If you took the time, you could probably figure out where your customers are in their life stage and promote products and services that are appropriate for their situation and interests.
Your first reaction in addressing an issue a customer has with your product or service is to blame them.
A certain airline comes to mind with this issue, as they routinely blame the passenger for everything from reservation problems (“you booked late!”) to extra baggage fees (“don’t you know that you are only allowed two carry-ons?”). This airline, which frequently overbooks, was recently brazen enough to blame me for not going to their website to select my seat assignment the night before, even though I had a confirmed reservation. They denied me boarding the next day, as the flight was over-sold. On the other end of the spectrum is an online printer, which is known to reprint products for free, even when it is the customer’s error that created the need for the reprint. That’s an amazing loyalty builder.
Your customer-facing employees aren’t empowered and informed with data to treat customers like royalty.
Is there anything more annoying than a company that asks for your account information immediately upon answering your call (from lack of a CTI solution), and then does not make that information available to any of the customer service or help desk people you speak to after that point? So, you have to keep repeating it for them. Once customer-facing employees collect this information, they should then have the authority to resolve your issue within reasonable limits. Endless hand-offs to other customer service agents or managers looks to customers as either incompetence or “passing the buck.” The message to the customer is clear – “we can’t decide if you are important enough to us to solve this problem on first contact.”
Today’s consumers expect technology to simplify their lives. This is the age of the customer – we all know that – and only the companies that deliver thoughtful, insightful and efficient customer experiences will thrive.