As a whole, we don’t really enjoy talking about customer experience basics. Instead, the conversation around CX often centers around the pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat, OHMYGOD moments that amaze customers and offer those oft-discussed but hard-to-achieve moments of surprise and delight.
Phew. Even just writing about those is exhilarating. And sort of exhausting.
We love talking about those moments because they’re amazing.
The hotel staff who went above and beyond to show what a great time a child’s left-behind stuffed animal? There are several of these stories now, and we can’t get enough!
C’mon, we all love that they took photos of the stuffed giraffe at the spa. That is, indeed, amazing. It stops you in your tracks. It makes you think…WOW. I can’t remember the last time anyone considered doing anything for me as a customer.
And therein lies the challenge.
We are wowed by the wow moments because we’re so consistently disappointed with the regular moments.
And while those of us who work on planning and executing great customer experiences are tickled pink when one of our wow moments gets viral traction, it’s important to ask hard questions about what a wow moment actually says about your customer expectations.
Who cares if one customer gets a moment of delight if most of us are just trying to survive their regular processes?
We need to sit down and have a serious talk about the overlooked and forgotten non-wow moments in your customer’s journey. We need to talk about customer neglect.
They say the number one symptom of a failing relationship of any kind is neglect. It’s not anger, it’s not rage or sadness or bitterness.
It’s simple, quiet neglect. The irony in discussing neglect is that its very nature is the absence of action. It’s not about being actively involved, it’s about not caring enough to meet the needs of someone.
Have you thought about ways you’ve neglected or are currently neglecting your customers?
Are there ways in which you’ve been so distracted trying to create WOW moments that you’ve forgotten the customer experience basics?
It’s not something that requires a lot of attention to address. It’s not a huge investment to simply pay attention to what your customers need and make a bit more of an effort to help them in those moments.
Three places where focusing on CX Basics can fix areas of neglect:
1. The Moment of Purchase
I see neglect at this point in the journey in a lot in business-to-business relationships.
In consumer relationships, we often see this moment celebrated with big purchases, like a house or a car. Those moments are not neglected by the person who sold them to us because it’s a big deal for them, too.
But it’s also a way to acknowledge this is big and important to the customer. There is a lot to learn from how the best salespeople handle those moments. It’s one thing to say Congratulations! and move on to the next one. It’s another to really acknowledge the true moment your customer is in.
Here’s a personal example:
When we bought our house a few years ago, our realtor heard me lamenting the lack of a light over where the kitchen table would go. Instead of neglecting this as a casual mention, he did something different. He invited me to go to the light store and bought the pendant light I still see every day.
There was something so personal and celebratory about that. It wasn’t just a pat on the back or a bottle of champagne to say congrats in a moment that felt very big to me. It was an easily-overlooked moment he turned into something special.
In B2B relationships, some sales cycles can take months or even years. When the prospect becomes a client, is there a proper moment of celebration and gratitude? Is there a personal way to acknowledge the big decision they’ve made?
Neglect looks like action when we’re worried about getting things done. That moment becomes all about logistics. “Great, glad to have you on board. I’ll have the attorney send you the paperwork.”
One more example:
One construction company I worked with revealed they coached their guys to “be cool” about the moment of agreement.
When interviewing customers, however, we learned the ones who felt most positive about the relationship in the beginning phases were the ones who had the one guy who really celebrated with his clients. He was known for “whooping and hollering” in celebration. The customers describe that moment as setting the stage for a great partnership.
2. The first invoice
Invoices are sometimes the only regular communications we have with customers. And we tell them in no uncertain terms how we will punish them if they don’t pay on our terms.
We highlight what we will and won’t tolerate.
We take no prisoners and add interest to delayed payments.
Do not mess with us.
And we neglect to say thank you. We forget to show gratitude.
In some cases, we neglect to make it easy to pay those invoices. We don’t clearly state the ways we accept payment, making them hunt for that information or call our office.
We neglect to take the opportunity to communicate with our customers in personal and meaningful ways.
Neglect on an invoice means saying thank you in the most basic of ways or not at all. Thanks to Microsoft templates, many invoices have the line “Thank you for your business” pre-printed on them in the most generic terms.
Take a minute to personalize that moment. Write a note or state something specific. Ask your customers what’s easiest for them. Make it a point to direct them to the ways they want to pay.
3. Moments of “meh”
This is a category that can strike in both B2B and B2C relationships. We all know those moments of meh in our customer’s journey. They are awkward for all involved.
It might be something like requiring an employee to have to jump through hoops to get an approval to fix a common issue. This adds time and frustration for the customer. But we continue to use this process because we believe it would take a lot to fix it.
The customer gets neglected when we neglect to take care of these meh moments.
Instead of putting up with the “meh” moments in your customer’s journey, commit to attacking those times of neglect. Don’t tolerate when everyone shrugs off a customer issue. One that gets me is “how many people really care about this?”
Hearing from one customer who cares enough to complain means there are many others who simply aren’t invested enough to complain or are writing off the meh moment as just another way your brand disappoints them.
It may not be worth investing an entire army of engineers to fix a bug that only occurs 10% of the time, but it’s worth it to discuss how to make it better. What can we do for the customers who are affected? Are we offering anything to make it easier or regain trust from that meh moment?
If we don’t even talk about it, we’re just accepting that we neglect our customers.
The thing about neglect is customers can live with it, but don’t have to. We were all neglected as customers by entire industries who were then ripe for disruption. Disruption from competitors who offered less neglect to our needs.
Cabs got us from point a to point b, but neglected to do anything about dirty cars, rude drivers, poor service and a serious lack of convenience. Uber and Lyft stepped in and we felt seen and heard as customers.
We need to talk more about customer neglect and what those moments of meh do to the relationships we have.
Here’s a challenge for you: Brainstorm a list of ways you currently neglect your customers. Are there moments of meh you can transform? I bet there are, and I think you are just the person to do it.
Let’s take the time to focus on those less exciting customer experience basics. Let’s banish meh moments. Let’s stop neglecting our customers.
Let’s at least talk about it.
That’s quite frankly the least we can do.