Friday, September 28, 2018

Are You Purposeful About Your Customer Experience?

Recently it feels like I am always thinking about my customer experience. Let’s face it, it is not because I am having a good customer experience. When I look at some of the companies that are growing exponentially, they almost always have an amazing customer experience-for example, Zappos. Super fast shipping, free returns and an amazing corporate culture that can be felt through any interaction. Others might include;
Uber (They come to you, no cash requirement and an easy app)
Apple (Easy interface, it just works and their products excel at working with each other)
KTAG (No more stopping, just auto billing)
Google Maps (It still amazes me how many people do not use them!) Just put in where you are going, and it not only gives you some alternative routes, it also shows traffic.
You are probably thinking you can come up with a lot more examples, and trust me, so could I. The issue now is that, through technology, many companies have made the user experience so amazing that I identify an “OK” process as poor. An example I have is with a subscription radio service. Starting the service is easy and available online. When it's time to unsubscribe a radio (I have multiple), it gets quite a bit more difficult. You are required to make a phone call--no exceptions. You then wait on hold, endure multiple sales pitches and finally get them convinced to do what you could have done yourself online in seconds. It has caused me to no longer subscribe any additional radios.
While the radio example is obvious, what I believe is not so obvious is setting the customer’s expectations on interactions your company has. Since you are in the business of delivering your service, the knowledge you take for granted could be unfamiliar to your customers. Recently, I needed some new tires and went to a local, trusted shop and they did a fantastic job. They made recommendations based on my needs, such as where I drive (on road or off road), to warranty options, and they even covered possible road hazards. So I decided on the particular tire I wanted and asked when they could do it. Their response was, "right now!" I thought, “Great let’s do it.”
My expectation was that I would have tires within an hour. However, to be honest, I didn’t ask. I sat down and started to do some work with my mobile device and an hour went by quickly. I looked up and my car hadn’t moved, so I went up to the desk and asked how much longer it would be. They said, “Well, we had to have someone bring the tires from an hour and a half away.” I objected: “You said you could do it right now.” I was shocked by their response. "And we can, but we don’t have the tires.”
Look, I don’t really care about your logistics, processes and problems. What I cared about was when I would have tires on my car and I could drive away. I called for a ride at 10 am. At 4:45 I called the shop to ask if my car was ready and they told me they would get to it tomorrow. I had some choice words.
This all could have been a much better customer experience if expectations would have been set up front. Did I come to the store expecting to have new tires on the same day? No. In fact, I expected them to either call me later when they were ready, or tell me to bring the car in on a specific date. Instead, the “right now” set expectations of RIGHT NOW! So the customer experience was really a failure of being clear.
Setting expectations is the first step in having a good customer experience. I will be providing the next steps in future articles. Meanwhile I will be driving on vacation this year, on my new tires, despite my disappointing experience.