The Customer Experience Planning Gap

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Guest post by Zhecho Dobrev

Management may plan one thing but different employees approach issues differently

Has it happened to you!  You approach one employee with a request, hear it can’t be done, then go to another and see how easy things can be? Or how about the time when a definite ‘’No’’ turns into a “well let me see what I can do’’ and then a final “yes of course we can”.

Certainly we have experienced this many times, usually in some bureaucratic and transactional type of organization, but, surprisingly, both these scenarios can happen even in the most prestigious Experience focused firms.

In the Q1 Beyond Philosophy Customer Experience Tracker of over 1,000 businesses and consumers across the UK and USA we found that 61.48 percent of consumers (see chart below) think that ‘’different people approach the handling of issues when something goes wrong differently and/ or there is no consistency across the organisation’’. What is surprising is that even 22.7 percent of businesses admit to that statement.  This data speaks to the significance of the problem and that people see it as a widespread practice. However as a stunning 65.5% of businesses believe they are always open and honest in approaching customer problems that means that they are not facing the true reality – that the experience companies are portraying is not deliberate and is being left primarily to the discretion of employees.

What businesses fail to understand is that a deliberate and consistent Customer Experience is the only way to customer loyalty and advocacy. Let’s say that people are generally satisfied with one company but know that the experience depends upon who they are going to meet there. Will they recommend it to someone?! No, because they will put their name to it only if they have seen consistent excellence not that there is a 70% chance of a good service.

The problem then comes down not just to the employees in the organization but also to their managers. Starting from the top level management they should, as Bruce Temkin puts it, ‘’drop the executive commitment façade and dedicate the time and energy necessary to make the customer experience a true priority, rather than treating it as a stepchild and focused on cost cutting’’.

The next step is to make sure that people are on board in the pursuit of customer experience excellence. This is another very challenging task and there is a nice article written about it by Gail Scot.

It will be interesting to see if the social media will be the trigger to make companies work on these problems. How do you think this will develop and what are the best ways for customers to influence this process? Lets us know your thoughts.

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