Being involved in customer experience is a wonderful thing. Those of you who are, like me, get to create better outcomes for customers. You can make informed choices which can lift an individual’s day, make them feel happier about their choice, or allow them to get closer to their goal. This is all because they interacted with your organisation through an experience which fulfilled their expectation in an expected or wonderfully unexpected way.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that each and every day? 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 recall a sales manager I worked with kicked me under the client dinner meeting table. This was because I’d proposed improvements which would retain customers longer for the client because the experience was smoother. However, it would compromise the ‘new acquisition focussed’ deal the sales manager wanted to cut. I also recall a senior product manager dismissing any unnecessary investment in a purchase or post purchase experience I’d proposed to make it easier for the customers because they felt the interest rate on the savings account was so good customers won’t care, or should work for it. It was bumpy for me back then.

But as my confidence grew, travel miles stacked up and my methodology became proven across more than twenty countries, an industry seemed to spring up around me as well. It’s an industry where you do still find those sales and product managers who’ve swapped their titles for customer experience ones. They are principally still backing the sale (but with a customer experience wrapper) or product (but with a customer experience wrapper).

Gratefully, a new breed of CXers have also arrived or are emerging, unshackled from conventional wisdom rooted to CX=profit. They see the purpose of CX is to create better outcomes for all, including shareholders. However this should not be without the customer, the employee, the business, the community and others benefiting too, with social equity part of 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 the bottom line is impacted by a nano digit today, to make the experience easier or more enjoyable for the customer, 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.

So, why is it that some organisations seem to accept compromise in the customer experience which create these micro level problems for them. But beware, what seems small grows (as anyone who has read or watched Matilda knows). A one off can quickly become a habit, which is then a pattern, which evolves to a ‘its just how we do things here’. And before too long the customers have jumped ship.

Whilst I enjoy every moment I spend working on clients challenges in this space, I’ve allowed poor customer experience to be an everyday hazard in my personal life for too long. Maybe its ‘whistle blowing’ or maybe it’s therapy for me, but I have captured some routine experiences I’ve encountered recently. I am sure there are more, but these stayed with me.

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. But I’ll skip that one.

I was directed to the free coffee machine while waiting. I got my coffee and then was greeted with the work task, ‘the waste bin is almost full….please empty soon’ from the machine.

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!

Making customers feel bad about banking systems

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 – not forgetting this is against a Covid-19 back drop of contactless payments.

It might even be a remote location v wifi coverage issue. But either 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.

So, how do you stop this happening?

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 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 differentiator of the business.

Surely it’s worth it.