Customer Experience Tips and Hacks: Thanks for the call, Kyle…

This is a short tale of two recent service experiences with wildly differing results. So you know, my goal isn’t to bash Comcast – it’s just that they continue to provide textbook examples of what NOT to do if you’re trying to improve the service experience for your customers.

On the other hand, Blue Nile effortlessly and elegantly knocked a recent experience out of the park. Same channels, radically different experiences. What CX can we learn from these interactions?

First, Blue Nile: Was delighted with Kyle, and turns out he likes mountain biking too…

customer-experience-tipsI purchased a set of diamond earrings for my wife years ago from Blue Nile. A couple weeks ago, she noted that the clasp on one had broken. I called their 24 hour service line hopefully, but with low expectations. After all, it had been years. And it was about 11:30 at night.

CX Hack: We all want service any time, from anywhere. Thanks for knowing this.

I reached a person immediately… who looked up my records, acknowledged it’s been a long time, but also said that they’d by happy to fix them. While not always free, repairs usually are. He said he’d let me know…the whole call took about four minutes.

CX Hack: Easy, enjoyable and effective. An emotional and functional CX trifecta.

In spite of the short duration of the call, he was highly engaged – asked how my wife liked the earrings, and if I would like them cleaned while they were at it? He walked through the process in detail, including each step and associated time frames.

CX Hack: Show your customers that you actually care – unexpected touches (like the offered cleaning) go one step beyond expectations. Proactively anticipating my needs wins my loyalty.

Immediately following, the company sent across an email with instructions and a label for return, followed by the email you see here – a picture of the guy who helped me out (changed to a stock pic for Kyle’s sake), some humanizing information about him, and a chance to rate my experience.

CX Hack: Connect your people and your customers; we’re all in this together, and making your people “real” to me makes me feel closer to your company.

Then, Comcast: A series of all-too-predictable negative experiences.

I recently attempted to set up a new HD box on one of our televisions. To do so, I went through in-device, online, IVR and eventually call center channels, where every step of the way, expectations were set then aggressively left unmet.

CX Hack: If you set expectations – meet them.

The online tutorial promised that I was “…just a few steps away from activating your devices and experiencing entertainment like never before.” When that didn’t work, I was directed to the optimistically named “activation hotline” provided by the rep at the Comcast store. There I had to listen through 6 or so menu options, none of which was activation.

CX Hack: Name things what they are.

You know the drill– decision making criteria unclear (“Which do I choose..?”), asking for info they never use (phone number punched in, required a second time by the rep), “Longer wait time than usual” recordings…

CX Hack: Don’t ask for data you won’t use.

When I eventually got to a service rep, he walked me through an ultimately useless 40 minute exercise, throughout which he was obviously disinterested and unengaged in the process; he made it clear he could care less about our situation. The final resolution was to dispatch an installer to our house to fix the problem.

CX Hack: If you tell customers the call may be recorded for “quality and training purposes” please, try to improve the quality and train people NOT to act this way.

And I never got an opportunity to let them know how unhappy I was with the service, nor what a great job the installer did later. After all, another aspect of now ubiquitous CX surveys is that we as customers all expect the ability to vent or praise following every interaction. Let us.

CX Hack: Give customers a chance to tell you how they feel. Then do something about it.

Customer experience is about meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

Bottom line? Blue Nile made it clear at every step of the way that they care about their customers – a lot. They also made it clear that they care about their employees; gathering humanizing info about Kyle and sharing that with their customers, succeeded in creating a picture of the people behind the voice at the other end of the phone.

And, they provided me an opportunity to share my thoughts with a clear rating scale, including the “Props Worthy” 5th star – making it clear that this rating is actually reserved for truly exceptional experiences.

On the other hand, Comcast blew it every step of the way until the delightful and competent (and importantly, on time) installer who eventually came out to fix the issue.

The thing is, when it comes to customer experience, words are meaningless – actions are everything. When the words make promises that the company can’t deliver on, it makes the experience even worse. As a customer, you can’t help but read or hear the things you want to hear, and think “wow, maybe this time, it’ll be different.” Then of course, when it isn’t, you’re even more disenchanted.

At the same time, great experiences should be effortless and unforced. Blue Nile didn’t make any empty promises – they simply delivered. So if you’re going to invest limited resources in improving experience, start with the actual experience.

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