Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Canned Customer Experience

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you know that I have started a grassroots campaign to help businesses see the impact their CX is having on their customers and their loyalty.  I am both professionally (as a customer experience expert) and personally (as a savvy consumer) invested in helping companies everywhere understand the need to be at the top of their game in terms of customer experience, if they are going to win and retain the hearts and minds of their most important asset, their loyal customers.

There’s no shortage of promises, proclamations and CX strategy prototypes created by leaders, all with great intentions to deliver great CX to the customer while positively impacting business results. It looks and sounds great…on paper but what’s really happening in the trenches? Does the CX actually match what you make it out to be in promise-filled presentation decks? How about service recovery? Inevitably the CX will breakdown at some point and recovery is key to saving and even clinching a customer’s loyalty. In fact, a customer who has had a problem that is resolved to their satisfaction is actually more likely to become loyal than one that has had no problem at all.  How about that?

Here’s what I am noticing, and it’s NOT great news in the world of service recovery.

After I shared my poor experiences with Brooks Brothers and Hertz, there was a glaring commonality in the communication I received initially from both companies. Almost immediately after I shared my blog, tagging these companies on Twitter, I received a response. Both companies asked me direct message them with more information. A fair enough request, and so I did. But what happened from there involved a series of canned responses that put more work on me - the customer - and the person who already feels burdened with a bad experience. Whether it was to provide further details, answer a series of “due diligence” questions, or fill out a questionnaire/survey, I was putting in more effort than I really wanted to without understanding where it was all leading. It wasn’t really until I pushed back in both situations, that the conversation was elevated to a more senior position. That’s when the real conversations started and that’s where my service recovery differed dramatically. Hertz really stepped up, and through a series of personal emails and even a phone call, they cleared up any discrepancies, but more importantly, they listened and heard what I had to say and responded through actions and sentiment that let me know they wanted the chance to earn my loyalty again.

Listen, I understand there has to be some sort of vetting process when complaints are lodged through social channels. However, I fear that these “canned” responses are becoming a dangerous standard for companies who see them as enough to suffice for a strong CX. It’s NOT! You wouldn’t tell a disgruntled customer standing in front of you to fill out a form, would you? You would talk to them, listen and resolve their issue quickly and with care.  Consumers are living, breathing individuals whose wallets and hearts are inextricably linked, and the CX and service recovery experience needs to be personalized too.  A personal email or an individualized text or phone call goes a long way.
Sorry Brooks Brothers, as I write this blog on a short plane flight, I am typing it in a new blue and white checked dress shirt, tie and slacks from…yes, Men’s Wearhouse. However, I will be hanging my sports coat from the hook in the back seat of my Hertz rental car because I am giving them another chance based on their service recovery yet I have not visited your stores in months, and since I am in a suit and tie 5-6 days a week and hope to be working for the next 20 years…well, you do the math.

Let’s kick it up a notch and get away from the canned customer experience mentality. Agree or disagree? Tweet me @GMagenta or email me at gmagenta@rootinc.com and tell me what you think!


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