Customer Experience Lessons and Examples
Introduction: The Power of Customer Experience
Engaging in customer experience management is a rewarding endeavor. Those of us in this field have the privilege of shaping better outcomes for customers. Through informed choices, we can brighten an individual’s day, enhance their satisfaction with their choices, or help them achieve their goals. All of this arises from their interactions with our organisation, where they find their expectations either met in an anticipated or delightfully unexpected manner. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that each and every day? So how come we still encounter so many customer experience pitfalls, as customers?
Early Struggles and Learnings
Customer experience management came to me early, before I fully appreciated it was what I would do for the rest of my life. The early part of my discovery was bumpy.
I remember a sales manager kicking me under the client dinner meeting table. This was because I offered changes that would help the client retain clients for longer by making the experience more pleasant. However, it would jeopardise the new ‘acquisition-focused’ contract that the sales manager was hoping to close.
I recall a senior product manager dismissing investments in post-purchase experiences, thinking a good interest rate would overshadow any inconveniences.
It was bumpy for me back then.
The Evolving Landscape of Customer Experience Management
As my confidence grew and I validated my approach across more than twenty countries, I witnessed an industry burgeoning around me. This industry included professionals who, while adopting customer experience titles, were still primarily focused on sales or products, albeit wrapped in a customer experience facade.
Fortunately, a new breed of CX professionals has emerged, unburdened by the old notion that CX is solely about profit. They recognize that CX should benefit not only shareholders but also customers, employees, the business, and the community, incorporating social equity into the equation.
At a micro level (although not to demean it), this social equity means removing anxiety and unnecessary stress from everyday experiences customers undertake when they rent or buy a product or service to do a job for them. If this means a small impact on the bottom line today to make the customer’s experience easier or more enjoyable, then it’s okay. Over time they will want to spend more time with that option over others, which is where the sustainable payoff is.
Avoiding Compromise: The Cost of Poor Customer Experience
Why do some organisations accept compromises in customer experience that create these micro-level problems? Be warned: what appears insignificant can escalate into a pattern, ultimately becoming part of your organisation’s culture. Before long, your customers will jump ship.
While I relish addressing clients’ challenges in this space, I’ve allowed poor customer experiences to become a recurring issue in my personal life for too long. In the following examples, I recount everyday experiences that have stuck with me.
Everyday Customer Experience Pitfalls: Anecdotal Insights
The coffee which comes with conditions
I recently took our Mini in for it’s service. I was offered a complimentary clean. Sadly, this meant it wasn’t ready when I was collecting it. I won’t dwell on that aspect.
While I was waiting, I was pointed to the coffee machine. I grabbed my coffee and then got a surprise message from the machine: “the waste bin is almost full….please empty soon”.
I am sure this is an employee-directed message. But if this is a self-serve machine, the coffee maker knows customers will be serving themselves. If not, the dealership does.
Not a task I expected I’d have to do to get my car back!
Passive Aggression in Point of Sale
Passive aggression is something more associated with individuals. However, in this example, the coffee shop along the Ladybower Water in the Peak District takes its challenges with electronic point-of-sale technology out on its customers.
Cash v card. It’s not the customer’s battle. But this sign makes me feel like a bad customer if I choose to use my card. Worsening matters, this example was taken against a Covid-19 backdrop of contactless payments.
Yes it might even be a remote location versus wifi coverage issue. But either way they’ve managed to make the least enjoyable and most functional part of any transaction even more painful!
Are my eyes failing me?
Stamping down on sharing usernames and increasing prices to combat profit dropping has had enough airtime recently for Netflix. I think it is good value, and I don’t have a network to share with. So, no issue there for me.
What I did take exception to was this upgrade offer to move from HD to Ultra HD.
My wife and I looked at it several times on screen. The image on the left is blurrier than I recall our analogue TV being in the 90’s, and the image on the right looks like our TV does now. So why would I want to pay £6 more for the same experience?
Perhaps anticipating an article, my wife said, ‘what else are they trying to pull the wool over our eyes on’? And there we have it; one short-term transactional gain experience can unpick several years of best-intended experiences. That seed of doubt has been planted, turning us from advocates into sceptics.
Preventing Customer Experience Pitfalls
It’s very simple. Improvements should relate to what matters most to customers and be delivered in a way which meets their drivers of choice. Know these up front by actively listening to customers. Share far and wide across the organisation so those responsible for the decision-making and designing and delivering the change have an overriding consideration, ‘how will our customers react to this?’
Okay, it’s not quite that simple.
To ensure this is a systematic and sustainable constant requires a more formal process intervention which is part of customer-centric governance. But establishing the principle first stops turning customers off, and instead reaffirms the experience as a business differentiator.
Surely it’s worth it.