What an Experience

How do you most want your customers to feel while doing business with you? Anxious, uncertain, annoyed, frustrated? We guess that’d be a no. Yet there are still so many businesses that are still generating these feelings in their customers.

With the shift towards focussing on delivering value and creating long term brand loyalty through a business model where customer experience (rather than customer service) is at the heart of everything the business does, companies that don’t embrace this most likely won’t be around for long. 

Just this week I went to pick up a rental car. Imagine the scene: I walk into the office and the very first thing I experience is another customer yelling to me, “Don’t use this bunch of con artists! They’re scammers, they’ll rip you off!.” The tirade went on for minutes with the company representative trying to intervene on multiple occasions. They were charging him for damage he swore blind must have already have been on the car. Yet he hadn’t noticed it when he checked the car when picking it up apparently. 

Hmmm, I think, not a great start, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ve used them before and they were fine. After many more antics including ripping up an agreement and vigorously crossing out the next one given to him, his parting shot was, “Make sure you check your car mate, double check it! They’re con artists!"   

So I checked the car, as I normally would, but it was quite dirty still, so it was hard to be 100% sure. Nonetheless I felt confident that all the existing damage on the car had been noted. 

Fast forward to returning the car, and wouldn’t you know it, the guy found a scrape mark on one of the alloys that hadn’t been noted on the pre-existing damage. Oh cr*p! I certainly hadn’t noticed doing it, hadn’t parked against a kerb at all, but given my experience on pick up, the spectre of an expensive bill loomed. Thankfully I’m a fairly chilled person, but even so, it still wasn’t a great experience. To my relief, once back at the office they checked previous rental agreements for the car and were able to see that it was actually existing damage that hadn’t been transferred only my rental agreement. So no extra bill thankfully. But for a while there I felt like someone charged with a crime I hadn’t committed, waiting for sentence. Not great. 

Later I was waiting for a flight gate announcement. The information board said the gate would be announced in 5 minutes. The same message 5 minutes later, then 10, then 20. I checked on the company’s app and found it would be delayed 1 hour. So why on earth keep people on tenterhooks in departures when they knew it would be 1 hour late? Tell us 45 mins to be safe by all means, but don’t, please keep telling us it’ll be there in 5 mins and if you’re not at the gate on time you won’t be allowed on!

In the experience economy in which we’re living, companies need to be engineering these types of experience *out* of their processes or they’ll be facing as a minimum, reduction in market share, at worst extinction. These examples are entirely avoidable. Without them I’d be advocating the companies wholeheartedly and probably using them as my sole supplier. But now that’s highly unlikely. And word of mouth spreads oh so fast these days: social media will see to that happening exponentially faster than ever before. 

So how good, and how consistent are your customers’ experiences? 

  • How easy is it for them to do business with you?
  • Which touch points are working well? Which less well?
  • When was the last time you experienced your company’s product or service from the eyes of a new customer?
  • ‍What measures in the business are driving less than optimal experiences for customers? (In most organisations we’ve worked with, existing measures are frequently ingredients that are driving the wrong behaviours in employees. Get in touch if you’d like some examples).
  • ‍What do you need to measure to help create and maintain the customer experiences you’d most like your customers to be having?
  • ‍How is your employees’ experience working for the company? (Hint: if it’s not that great, your customers’ experience won’t be either).
  • ‍What does this require of you as a leader?

Over the past year, developing a customer experience-centred culture is something we’ve been in high demand for with a wide range of clients, so if you’d like to find out which approaches have worked and what often gets in the way, feel free to get in touch for an informal chat. It’s always good to share ideas.

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