Has the oil spill effected the BP Customer Experience?

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Now that BP’s “Top Kill” effort has failed to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, I wonder if they’ll take the advice offered up by Andy at the Borowitz Report — and try plugging the leak with BP executives.

All kidding aside, the oil spill has had a predictably damaging effect on the BP customer experience. Here’s me as a customer case in point:

Last week, I was on my way to my friend Sydney’s eighth-grade band concert. I was in a hurry, running a little later than I had planned. About halfway to the concert I realized my car was running on fumes.

As I pulled off the freeway in a high-traffic area, I realized the only gas station around was BP. I paused and considered my options: Run out of gas? Find a new gas station and arrive unconscionably late for the concert? I chose option C — apologize to the environment and fill up in order to make it to the concert on time.   As I filled my tank it struck me that even though I was at a huge station right off the freeway during rush hour, I was the only car there. The attendant inside never looked up.

If I were to venture a guess, I’d bet that a lot of prospects have gotten stuck in Step 2 of BP’s customer experience. BP is no longer making the short list of viable options. As a customer, I found my Step 5, or SOLVE step of the customer experience to be, well, sad and spooky.

It’s a shame. The ads and actions BP has taken in the past few years had gone a long way to differentiating them from the pack. Sure they’ve focused on solving the basic transportation needs of their customers.  Yet they’ve also invested a lot of effort, money and conversation in how they care about more than petroleum.  If you believed their advertising and key public actions, the company was building its customer experience to solve our future energy needs, focusing on a bridge to a lower carbon future.

I believed them.

I think BP still has an opportunity here. They could treat this as a pure PR situation and disaster recovery, doing what it takes to restore their reputation in the face of this crisis. This is what I see now, and if you visit their website, you’ll see they’ve turned over the entire home page to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico).

I hope BP takes the opportunity to prove their promise — that they really are “beyond petroleum.” This would be more than just an opportunity to save face, and even more than a chance to fix a badly damaged customer experience.  This is a chance for BP to show how its entire operation is focused on meeting its customer’s need: safe, clean energy to aid them in getting from one place to another.

Do you think they can do it?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Linda Ireland
Linda Ireland is co-owner and partner of Aveus LLC, a global strategy and operational change firm that helps leaders find money in the business performance chain while improving customer experiences. As author of Domino: How to Use Customer Experience to Tip Everything in Your Business toward Better Financial Performance, Linda built on work done at Aveus and aims to deliver real-life, actionable, how-to help for leaders of any organization.

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