Are you still chewing bubble gum when it comes to creating a better customer experience?


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In a scene from the 1988 movie, They Live, Roddy Piper utters the iconic phrase, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick a#!….and I’m all out of bubble gum!”. Talk about getting right to the point. We could take a lesson from Mr. Piper when it comes to designing a better customer experience. He’s bold and deliberate in his approach. His intentions are clear. And if you have ever seen the movie, he carries through on those intentions. If you really want your brand to stand apart from your competition, your customer experience must as well. Brand and CX are inseparable as means for responding to customer expectations. But often our brand is like Roddy chewing bubble gum and our customer experience is all but lost to a multitude of policies and practices that cause unending customer frustration.

What are some ways you can blow away your competition with kick-a#! CX:
• Eliminate promotions with an asterisk. I see endless emails from companies about their latest promotions, sales, and discounts. The asterisk tells us what’s not included, how much we must spend to achieve the savings, whether we will get free shipping and what code we have to use to get the savings. Enough with those ***’s. You’ve got our attention with the email blast, now make it easy for us to take advantage of the sale.
• Create an engaging and effective online experience. If you want to stand out from your competition, then your online experience must be the flagship of your brand. It needs to be the culmination of everything you’ve done to understand your customer’s expectations. Regardless of whether your B2C, B2B or B2B2C, customers want hassle free online ordering.
• Be competitively priced. Why should I spend my time trying to find the lowest price for a product online? Why don’t you do that and match it, so I get the best deal from a company I like doing business with instead of your competition? If it’s apples to apples, trying to tell me to pay more for yours then the competition is an exercise in futility. Your own employees can be your best source of competitive pricing data for your products.
• Provide accurate stock level information. Don’t advertise if it’s not in stock. Tell us real-time stock levels so we know when you’re running low on an item. Give us wish lists so we know when it’s back in stock or better yet, help us find the item somewhere else (now that’s being out of bubble gum).
• Get it delivered quickly. How can companies still be struggling to get orders processed quickly and orders delivered within a few days not weeks. Haven’t we learned anything from Amazon? Yet it is still taking some organizations days to process orders and weeks to deliver them (some claim it’s the pandemic while others seem to be overcoming the supply chain obstacles and getting the products to us quickly).
• Seek to shine during the pandemic. Stop using COVID19 as an excuse for bad experiences. We need to keep our employees safe and healthy. In the beginning we heard about how every company we ever did business with was handling the crisis. Four months later, some still seem to be unable to handle the crisis. If you can’t handle the orders or call volumes, stop sending all those promotional emails. On the other hand, those organizations that shine during the crisis will realize unending customer loyalty when it’s over.
• Give your customer service representatives what they need to do their jobs. Give them the authority to solve issues on the spot without asking for a supervisor’s permission. Trust them to spend the company’s money appropriately when it comes to authorizing returns or shipping another product to solve a complaint.
• Eliminate complicated returns. When it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Issue a return label, have it picked up at no charge and concurrently ship the right product instead of awaiting delivery until the return is processed.
• Move beyond “Hollywood set guarantees”. There’s nothing behind a Hollywood movie set. Make sure your guarantees aren’t like a Hollywood set. If you say 100% satisfaction guaranteed, then mean it. Back up your products and when a mistake is made, admit it and fix it.
• Thank me for my business. No, not with a survey or request for a review but with a personalized message thanking me for my purchase, acknowledging the value I bring to your company and appreciating the relationship we have as seller and buyer.

The time for chewing bubble gum has passed. Every day, I’m baffled as to why I encounter organizations with which I have less than desirable experiences. Creating an experience that exceeds a customer’s expectations isn’t that difficult, but we seem to make it so.
Organizations that ignore this unique opportunity to stand out from their competition do so at their own peril. Customers will remember those companies that performed during this crisis and those that didn’t. Their memories will be long-lasting as will be their loyalty. If you want to blow away your competition, then it’s time to create kick-a#! experiences. Not tomorrow. Today.

Bob Azman
Bob Azman is Founder and CXO of Innovative CX Solutions, LLC, a boutique CX consulting firm. He is the 2020 Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of the Customer Experience Professional Association ( Bob has a wealth of executive, diverse, global operations leadership experience at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Thomson Reuters, Ceridian and Deluxe Corporation. Bob earned both his MBA and BA from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and Rutgers University Business School.


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