Please! Experience Your Customer’s Experience!

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“Terrified. Mortified. Petrified. Stupefied”, so said Russel Crowe’s character, John Nash, in the movie, A Beautiful Mind. And so, I am (am I)! Here’s a sampling of my recent experiences with a broad range of companies across a wide range of industries (consumer goods; automobiles; business services; big box retailers; online marketers; financial services):
• Mobile applications that have constant chat window pop-ups that impede your ability to complete an order?
• Websites that insist on pop-up windows on a variety of subjects every time I switched a product view or page.
• Functions on a website that are simply broken. “Page Not Found”.
• Chat Bots that are useless in answering questions and wasting time when a live agent using chat could address it in less time.
• Agents who weren’t properly trained on company procedures or practices and had to “ask a supervisor” who wasn’t available to help them.
• Templated emails that don’t answer my question or use company-language to convey a solution.
• Two layersof “press one” interactive voice response units each with 9 options.
• Constant promotion of a product while simultaneously receiving a notice that my order is delayed due to higher-than-expected orders.
• Hold messages with every company that said, “Due to the pandemic, we have higher than normal call volumes”.
• Automated messages that assure me if I answer all their questions up front, I won’t have to repeat it to an agent. False!

I have more examples, but I figured you’d lose interest or get as frustrated as I’ve been if you read too many more. I didn’t make any of these up. These are real experiences that happened to me in the last 30 days! And to be honest, there have been some good experiences but the bad ones seem to be running well ahead of the good ones!

Why do these things keep happening? Why aren’t organizations, experiencing their customer’s experience? If they did, these things wouldn’t be happening to their customers, they would be happening to the people that designed the websites and chats and templated emails and agent scripts.

Although I completely understand how the pandemic has adversely impacted many organizations, it’s also been nearly 9 months since it began. I fear this is being used now more of an excuse rather than a reason to change the way organizations do business.

If your organization is caught in this endless cycle of poor customer experiences, I have some advice for you! Forget about developing a CX strategy. Throw away the journey maps. Eliminate the endless surveys. Quit looking to technology to solve your problems. Get back to the basics!
• Have employees try to buy from your websites and mobile applications and provide feedback on their experiences.
• Monitor the technology you do have – it can break!
• Is your interactive voice response unit working properly and routing customers to the proper department – since you asked them to press a lot of buttons while they waited for an agent?
• Is every function within your organization aligned to ensuring a great customer experience?
o Is the sales team trained on your products?
o Are the promotions from marketing clear and concise?
o Do your websites and mobile applications make it easy to do business with you?
o How is your supply chain – is their enough inventory to handle the volumes? Is your shipping process easy to understand?
o Is your customer service team trained and staffed to handle the volume?
o Are your invoices, billing, and credit card options up to date so customers have a secure choice in how they pay you?
o What guarantees to you have? Are they unconditional, clearly stated and easy for customers to invoke?
o Is your returns process simple for the customer to follow?

Customers will remember the organizations that stepped up to help them during this pandemic. They’ll remember the companies that invested in the experience despite limited resources. They’ll reward those organizations with loyalty and positive word-of-mouth that will last a lot longer than this pandemic.

I often read about and hear from organizations that are frustrated should they see less than a 5-star online review. But when I discover they’ve failed to address many of the items I’ve listed above, my empathy turns to disappointment.

As consumers, it’s been a tough year. But we are learning to adjust and transform many of our traditional ways of doing business. I think it might be time for many of the companies we buy from to do the same thing. And to those that are transforming their business models for us – Thank you! We appreciate your willingness to invest in a better customer experience.

First impressions make a difference! Do you know what your customer’s first impression is of your organization? If not, maybe it’s time to experience what they experience when working with you!

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