Who Owns Your Customer Experience?


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A few weeks ago I heard a story of “extreme customer service.” Strangely enough, it wasn’t about a great experience but about a failed service experience. My friend absolutely loved a particular fast food chain and ordered the same thing every visit. On her last visit she was charged more than the listed price at the drive thru. Miffed, she pointed this out to the sales associate and then the supervisor on duty. But they both summarily dismissed her indicating that she was charged the new price. She then took measures to ensure the company heard her and fixed the issue. Twitter and FaceBook were immediately alerted. In fact, anytime she has a bad experience, or an exceptional one for that matter, she takes it social. In her words, “I will go to the extreme to get the service I deserve. I own my customer experience.” She expects a good customer experience and will take matters into her own hands to get it!

Her problem, my friend explained, was not the extra $1.25. If she wanted economical fast food she was clearly at the wrong restaurant. She was simply pointing out the pricing error. In fact, she would have preferred if the sales associate had said, “Ma’am the item you requested just had a price change, is that okay?” One moment of thoughtfulness would have changed the outcome of that interaction instead a shouting match ensued on FaceBook and Twitter, resulting in apologies, refunds, and freebies. Despite the steps taken to rectify the situation, it was a little too late for the company to restore loyalty and their tarnished reputation. More people took note of the poor experience than any of the beneficial follow up activity.

Research indicates that 49% of customers don’t tell a company about their bad experiences—they just leave. The other 51% however, tells the company and the world at large. Social media has redefined and magnified customer complaints, making it even more imperative for organizations to monitor and manage customer interactions. Marketer’s have always known word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of advertisement. With social, everyone’s voices just got a whole lot louder! Customers shouldn’t have to define the service they receive and complain to be heard. Companies must reclaim ownership of the customer experiences they deliver.

It may sound cliché but culture is at the epicenter of the equation. Yet I think it goes deeper than culture. To be on their game 24/7 for all 365 days of the year, companies must eat, sleep and breathe customer-centricity. And every employee must follow this same customer-centric creed.

If you are in management at an organization you might be asking, “But how can I get my employees to live the customer-centric creed?” I do workshops and have memos, but all efforts fall short. I believe the best way to live the creed is to empower employees with the knowledge they need to be customer-centric. Knowledge is power in the world of customer service. It is critical that on any given day customer service agents can find relevant information about each of their customers, products, and services, ensuring they understand the holistic view around each. When empowered with this knowledge, they will automatically be driven to greater customer-centricity.

If that clerk knew that the price change happened as a result of more eco-friendly packaging and that the price change would be reflected tomorrow at the drive-thru, they could have created a better experience by sharing the reason for the change. My friend who is always looking to add more green to her life would have been thrilled and her tweets would have had a very different tone!

This was a story of a bad experience but does anyone have an example of a great customer experience where they felt a more knowledgeable customer service agent made all the difference?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stacy Leidwinger
Stacy Leidwinger serves as product management director for the Vivisimo Velocity Information Optimization Platform. In her role, she assists in driving product roadmap, market requirements, product positioning as well as interacting closely with customers and partners to understand their information challenges.


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