At heart, customer experience improvement is all about finding those places in the experience where pain exists, and where customers feel that their expectations aren’t met. The art of finding these places and fixing them is at the heart of the discipline of customer experience improvement. After all, helping companies do this is what our business has been built on.
Unsurprisingly, there are common themes we hear when customers tell us their expectations aren’t being met. Across different industries, customer segments, customer journeys, channels and devices, we see these trends play out in the things dissatisfied customers say, and how they feel as a result.
So ask yourself – where in your current customer experience do your processes, systems, technology and people or the ways you manage data make it so that your customer:
- Feels She’s Wasted Her Time: How many times have we – as consumers – felt as if a company feels their time is more important than ours? While a radical example, a major phone company just had my wife wait 12 hours at our new lake house to install phone/internet service… and never showed up. One solution is to consider the value of customer time as a design criteria when you’re designing a new experience, or fixing an existing one. Another (number 4 below) is to find and eliminate needless steps.
- Can’t Accomplish Her Goals: After trying and being unable to solve a product order-related issue online, one of our employees called support. However, the rep told her he couldn’t access the information required, and that she had to go back to the website. Unsurprisingly, she cancelled the order (which she could do online) and purchased elsewhere. The lessons here are myriad. Bottom line, your customers need to be able to accomplish their goals. If they can’t, you’ll lose them.
- Isn’t Remembered: We’ve each experienced the phone call to customer service that starts with an automated request to enter our account number or some other personally identifiable information (PII) data. When we finally get to a service rep, what’s the first they ask us? Yup. Or a website that doesn’t store our preferences or order information. The answer is for companies who gather customer information to do so intentionally, with the customer in mind – then, actually use it for their customer’s benefit.
- Encounters Needless Steps: Needless steps occur across channels. Any time a customer has to do two things when they could do one, you’re making their life harder. For example, in a retail store where returns have to go to a different counter. Which customers discover after waiting in the ‘wrong’ line. Then consider Amazon “1-Click”ordering; your order is automatically charged and shipped, based on your preferences. No carts, payment pages or confirmations required. Ask the question - where can you eliminate needless steps for your customers?
- Finds Decision Criteria is Unclear: When’s the last time you tried to compare credit card offers on a one-to-one basis, or cellular service plans? Even pricing on fabric options for furniture at a retail store can be confusing. As a customer, the correct answer can be exceedingly hard to determine. It shouldn’t be. In any situation where there are more than one possible solution, the right option for your customer and her particular circumstance should be crystal clear.
- Knows it’s Harder Than it Has to Be: We have all experienced interactions that just aren’t easy. To succeed with customer experience, interacting with your company can’t be difficult for your customers. At all. Which means that the information they want is easy to access. That your products and services are easy to purchase. And that when needed, customer service – regardless of channel – is easy to access, and problems are quickly resolved.
Consider these six common customer experience obstacles as a lens through which you and your organization can view the experiences your customers have today, and ways they feel as a result.
In almost any part of your business, you can ask yourself if your customers are feeling pain, or if their expectations aren’t being met in any of these ways. If you find the answer is yes, and you can resolve these issues in ways that better align to your customer’s wants and needs, you’ll find you have the ability to develop and deliver a radically better customer experience.