Recently, I was invited to participate in a webinar discussing the role of emotions in customer experience. During the discussion, I made the point that while I believe we should pay close attention to the emotions of our customers, we cannot escape the fact that there is stuff that happens (i.e. what companies say and do) and then there is what we (i.e. customers) make those things mean.
That very fact introduces a potentially huge amount of variety and complexity into the customer experience mix that companies have to deal with.
As a result, I suggested that rather than spending a lot of time and energy on managing and responding to this variety, many brands and their customers would benefit far more if they focused on being brilliant at the basics.
Why? Well, neuro-scientific research suggests that some of the key attributes associated with being brilliant at the basics i.e. avoiding risk and disappointment are between 5-17 times more important to customers than surprise and delight – attributes associated with Wow-ing customers.
The problem with this type of approach, however, is two-fold:
- Focusing on being brilliant at the basics is hard work and requires focus, critical thinking, time, understanding, discipline and commitment; and
- Most brands often don’t really know what the ‘basics’ mean for their customers.
Following the webinar, one of the attendees, Nick Holland, got in touch with me to share a story about a company that is trying to Wow it’s customers but they are not getting the basics right.
The story involves Infiniti, Nissan’s premium car brand, and one of their dealerships in the UK where they use the term ‘guests’ instead of customers and have transformed the dealership environment into something resembling a luxury hotel complete with a red carpet to welcome their customers….ahem….’guests’.
But, while their new dealership looks very impressive and is designed to make their guests feel special, the problem is that if a part needs replacing on a newly purchased car there is a chance that it will have to be ordered from Japan and that it could take more than 8 weeks to arrive.
That happened to one customer who recently purchased two Q30s from Infiniti: one for his wife and the other for himself. Shortly after purchase the batteries on both cars failed and they had to wait for around 9 weeks for them to be replaced. That customer and his wife had subsequent breakdowns with their cars and the service they received was both disjointed and poor. The customer went on to describe their experience in detail in a very, very poor review on Autotrader in the UK.
Nick’s story and the review highlights how a customer feels when something, that any regular person would classify as basic, goes wrong.
I believe that having to wait more than 8 weeks for replacement parts and to experience disjointed and poor service does not fit with the red carpet image that Infiniti is trying to portray.
Just because things, like battery failures, may be unlikely to happen does not mean that they should not be ready to respond quickly and efficiently when they do.
They would do well to figure out what their basics are and how they can be brilliant at them.