Activate the Cone of Silence because I want to let you in on a little secret – I love something free. So imagine my excitement when my internet provider sent me an email offer “Get the internet speed you deserve with a modem upgrade on us.” The offer went on to say they knew my current modem was outdated and that may be preventing me from getting the speed and reliability I expect.
Now I have seen a fair number of personalization attempts that just felt, well… creepy. To do it well takes just the right balance of you would be horrified to know just how much we know about you, but we used this info gently and we thought this might help. Wow, I felt, here is a company that gets it. I have been frustrated for weeks trying to figure out why my connection seems poor and I am not getting the speed I have paid for when, proactively, my internet provider has reached the same conclusion and is offering me a free solution. That’s a moment of truth and it felt like CX done right.
My excitement was short-lived. After clicking on the offer I was taken to a page that told me they appreciated my interest but the offer didn’t apply to me (ouch). A quick click from that page and I am chatting with Mary whose first message to me was “do you rent a modem with us”? Uh, hang on… that sounds like the old ‘here’s something great we can do but it doesn’t apply to you’ trick.
Moving across the three touch points they quickly took me from Wow to Why. As in why am I still giving this company my money? How did this situation end up as a near miss, and how do you avoid creating an antagonizing experience?
Be proactive – 76% of customers expect companies to proactively contact them to provide better service.1 Anticipating your customer’s needs and acting on that intelligence is crucial to driving the customer experience. This journey started with a bang because the company anticipated my issue and proactively contacted me in an effort to improve it.
Don’t ask a customer what you already know – it sounds obvious, but 72% of customers expect companies to know their purchase history regardless of communication channel.2 As an existing customer I received a personalized offer via email and as I linked to the company’s website, I was recognized and told I did not qualify for the offer. After starting a chat from that page, unfortunately Mary knew nothing about me. You must connect customer data across touch points – not only when something goes right, but especially when something goes wrong – in order to deliver a positive experience.
Stop creating your own complaints – amazingly, companies create their own dissatisfaction 40-60% of the time due to broken processes and products that cause disappointment.3 If you’re skeptical – map out your top complaint types and determine their source. These are the complaints that are avoidable and this was certainly the case here. It is important to look at the customer journey and your supporting internal processes, across functions and to understand the impact to the customer.
The Marketing, Sales, CS and CX teams should have identified the need to send the offer to eligible recipients only, and then had a process in place for what to do when it inevitably landed in the wrong customer’s inbox. This could have included, for example, a more customer friendly message on the web page that explained why I was not eligible and apologizing for the mistake. Such a small thing to do and yet it likely would have prevented me from wanting to chat to the company – an extra step that increased the company’s cost to serve, didn’t resolve my issue and was an interaction that caused dissatisfaction and negative word of mouth.
Make it personal – Personalization is a key pillar of a customer centric organization. The message I received made me feel as though the company had identified that I was not getting the most out of what I was paying for and had sought to remedy that. In addition it used personal language and feeling words to convey this – such as allowing me to do all I love to do online, and we look forward to providing you with your new modem soon – words that help to form a connection. The offer and its language gave a very unique feeling – a differentiator – that most companies do not provide. It was an excellent start to what ended as a near miss journey.
Reaching an agent that didn’t utilize context or my purchase history broke the chain. Instead, she started with a leading question that, internally, seemed so obvious (well if you don’t rent a modem we can’t offer to replace it), but to a customer seemed like I am already being told it is my fault (well if you don’t rent a modem how can you expect to get a free replacement). What started as a personalized communication led to an impersonal interaction that further compounded my dissatisfaction.
Be consistent – you can chase delight and wow but can you do it all the time? Every customer, every touch point, every interaction. Getting the experience right every time is the hardest thing to do well, but consistency has to be the foundation of your customer experience approach – your brand reputation depends on it. Delivering better CX doesn’t have to be about revolution, but rather will often come about through evolution – an ongoing commitment to continually, incrementally improving the customer experience. No matter how good or bad your CX is when you start, you can always be taking small steps forward to improve it.
Power the evolution through a culture based on customer focus, data insight and a commitment to continuous improvement. Don’t let KAOS reign… fight back with smarter CX!
As a footnote – I received the same exact offer in the mail 3 weeks after the email and the chat interaction indicating I was not eligible. Determination or disaster!? I asked you not to tell me that…
1 inContact Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark Consumer Study, March 2017
2 inContact Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark Consumer Study, March 2017
3 CCMC / John Goodman, “Building a Voice of Customer Process to Drive Innovation and Investment”, presentation to Call Center Demo, Chicago, November 2014