So Many Customer Experience Lessons – So Little Time!

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I once wrote that to be joyful we must capture the natural occurring humor of reality. Extrapolating the idea of seizing natural occurring opportunities, I’m a fan of gleaning customer experience lessons from news headlines.

Here are three quick examples of customer experience lessons just waiting to be plucked from recent news stories:

  • Only one Blockbuster Video store remains
  • Papa John’s Pizza removes likeness of the company’s founder in the aftermath of his use of a racially offensive word
  • Voice search is on the rise

Blockbuster Video

I am fortunate to have a client in the Bend, Oregon area and I’m looking forward to an upcoming visit there during which I plan to take a picture in front of the last Blockbuster Video store in the Continental United States (there are two other stores in Alaska).

A chain of 9,000 stores in 2004 has been reduced to a brand with three brick and mortar locations.

I am really not sure why I want to take a picture in front of the Blockbuster in Bend. Maybe there is some nostalgia to the value Blockbuster once brought to the life of my family.

That value proposition was framed around my family’s ability to stop into our local store (strategically located next to a supermarket). My children would look for their favorite movies and video games.

As parents, we would glance at the upcoming release boards and hope that the movie we wanted to watch was still in stock. Invariably, we would select a mix of movies and games, make an impulse buy of popcorn or candy, and be warned at checkout about the variable return dates of the products we selected and the importance of rewinding our VHS tapes.

For each benefit we enjoyed from Blockbuster, we found in very short order, that the pain incurred was monumental.

Like the time we were told we couldn’t check out any more items until we paid a $220 fine for a video game my son had not returned (the replacement cost of the game was 25% of the fine) or those times we had to rush back to Blockbuster to avoid yet another fine.

It is easy to see how Netflix and other streaming services evolved in ways that eviscerated the once mighty Blockbuster. 

What is often harder to identify are the elements of Blockbuster that live in our own business. For example, where do we cling to sales processes or service delivery that produces unnecessary pain for our customers?

How do we position our businesses to be less vulnerable to technologies that will make our products or services irrelevant?

Papa John’s Pizza

Once upon a time, people believed that what someone said in their personal life or in certain contexts would not travel back to business life. That may have been true decades ago but with mobile communication and digital technology every word we say matters to our future in business.

Our words shape the perspective of existing customers as well as prospects.

Whether uttered on social media (e.g., Roseanne Barr) or in a seemingly private conference call with a marketing firm (e.g., John Schnatter – founder of Papa Johns) every utterance matters. The Papa John’s customer experience lesson requires us to ask where and how might I communicate a thought or feeling in a way that will be hurtful, divisive or destructive to my brand?

How do I avoid falling into the trap of believing that what I say in one context won’t have an impact back to current or future business?

Voice Search

This week while reading PR Daily I ran across an article on the growth of voice search and how to optimize your brand to respond to this trend.

Bruce Gannon’s article synopsizes an infographic crafted last year by the SEO Tribunal (a group that evaluates SEO companies). That infographic, 106 Quick and Fascinating Voice Search Facts and Stats, is an amazing resource on the emergence of people asking voice-activated assistants like Alexa or Siri to search the internet for them.

Here are some of the key things to learn from emerging information on the phenomena:

  • 325 million people are searching through the internet using voice search
  • 20% of Google searches are done through voice search with 95% accuracy of answers
  • Voice search is used most often when a person is driving
  • More than 35% of Millennials use voice search compared to 10% of Baby Boomers
  • Since voice search can understand more than 10-word sentences, SEO may be affected by natural language, not just keywords

What does voice search teach us from a customer experience perspective?

It signals the power of questions and the importance of thinking about the questions people maybe be verbalizing to access services such as ours.

Okay, this blog is long because there is always so many teachable lessons and so little time!

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