The customer is always right. Right? Maybe they aren’t always right, but the customer-centric perspective is crucial when making changes to your business. Measuring decisions against the customer experience quality metric will help ensure that you are providing a positive interaction.
Even though I am what most people would call a “techie,” I am still a big fan of getting something down on paper every day. It doesn’t matter if it is as simple as a quick note about what happened that day in pseudo shorthand or a more prolonged thought or idea.
Over the years, I have been through five or six different formats for the daily log concept before finally settling on the one that works best. It’s perfect for me with a dated blank slate for everyday, quality paper, and portability. In ordering my 2021 planner a few months ago, I was presented with many options: small, large, softcover, hardcover, personalization. I selected my favorite, the large softcover with personalization. After completing my purchase, I realized that I accidentally ordered the small. No problem, I figure. Send a note to support, get the change made, and I’m good. As to be expected with any good customer service, I received a message back from support almost instantly. Unfortunately, this is where the pleasant interaction ended. The email I received said that changes are not possible because the order is already at the warehouse. Is it possible that this large producer of planners and notebooks is so on it that their warehouse produces my order in under thirty minutes? On the weekend? Left with the only alternative of purchasing another one, I was displeased enough that I went and found a different product to meet my needs for this year. To my surprise, months later, I received a refund in my account, with no notice. While there is a large amount of room for improvement, at least they did the right thing in the end.
So, what happened? Why did this company make this simple customer request the reason they lost a customer? Somewhere in the corporate offices, most likely in the interest of optimization, an executive was worried about fulfilled orders per labor hour, batch sizing, or some other detail. Ultimately though, in the name of production efficiency and saving a little money, they made the customer experience worse.
How does this apply to you? Simple. Be 100% confident that your customer experience journey map is optimized to encourage positive customer interactions. Take that a step further and ensure that not only is the experience positive, but one that is also incentivizing future engagement and sales. My planner buying experience is an excellent illustration of an issue that all businesses face at some point, the necessary management of processes in a customer-friendly way. It can be difficult to analyze your operation from a strictly internal point of view, so it can be beneficial to hire an outside expert or secret shopper to experience the interactions firsthand.
Another aspect of business where we see these mistakes is with shipping. One of the most frustrating parts of shipping a product is realizing that you, as a company, have very little control of what happens to your package as soon it leaves your facility. UPS and FedEx continue to innovate and add more tools to help with this control, but in reality, shipping is still mostly out of your control, which means that the customer experience is no longer in your possession. How do you manage that? There are several solutions for this, and the correct answer for one may not be the right solution for all, but one of the best universal tools is communication. Imagine if when I’d ordered my planner, support had simply said that they outsourced production and could not stop the order as it is an automated process. Although I still would have been frustrated that a change couldn’t be made, I certainly would have been more understanding. Communication is key to ensuring that your customer experience is positive, even when things are beyond your control.
We all know that mistakes happen no matter how hard we try to prevent them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continually strive to provide the best customer experience you can. Analyze the customer experience using all tools available to you: customer feedback, staff feedback, data metrics, secret shoppers, or any other means that can shine a light on the journey quality you are providing your customers.