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For the Love of the Customer

AcxiomFebruary 05, 2015

It’s February and while most people may be thinking about expressions of love for their one and only, I’m thinking about the love of the customer. Before you judge me, check out this blurb from the American Express Service Study (September 2013):

In a study that tested 1,620 consumers, 63% said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service. For 53% of those tested, receiving great service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved.

While this study is focused more on customer service, I believe these findings still hold true when expanded to the broader customer experience. It’s really about the emotions evoked – positive or negative – as the customer interacts with your brand.

In the grand scheme of things, improving the customer experience is going to require a long-term commitment. Some companies have already made this commitment, are recognized as leaders in Customer Experience and are reaping the rewards of higher spend per customer, lower customer attrition and an increased attraction of new customers. Overall these companies are getting it right and blazing the trail for others.

However, not to be a total Debbie Downer, I’ve experienced hiccups when engaging with some of these companies. Excellent customer experience also requires vigilance. Sometimes an idea with good intentions misses the mark and it’s important to continually evaluate through the eyes of the customer.

Here are a few noteworthy examples:

Inefficient Efficiency

I called a local store to see if they had a part in stock for a product I had purchased from them that had been recalled. I followed the prompts of the automated attendant and was placed in a call queue. When my call was finally answered and I asked if the part was in stock I was told I had been routed to a call center in another state and would need to be transferred back to the local store. I was placed on hold once again. By the end of the interaction I invested 13 minutes of my life on a 30 second conversation. I miss the good ol’ days when you could call a local number and speak to someone local.

Takeaway: Think through plans of efficiency and automation through the eyes of the customer experience. It may be easier, cheaper or faster to automate but at what cost?

Emotional Manipulation

I recently had to cut down on the number of email I was receiving. I clicked through to unsubscribe from one company. I was surprised when, instead of giving me a message that I had been unsubscribed or that I would be missed, I was treated to a short video with a message about an employee being fired as a result of my action. I’m pretty sure this was meant to be humorous but it missed the mark, for me anyway, and left me with weird feelings of guilt.

Takeaway: Humor in marketing is usually either brilliant or a complete miss. It’s a high risk, high reward type of situation. Successwise offers a list of questions to consider before adding humor to your message.

Tired of Playing the Game

I contacted a service provider to which I have been a loyal customer for 15 years because I received an offer that was significantly lower than I was paying for the same services. The customer service representative told me I was not eligible for the rate because it was supposed to be for new customers and was sent to me by mistake. He was unable to make any changes to my account. I had to play the game of asking until I said the key word to have my call escalated to customer care. Once I reached customer care I was instructed to leave my name and number so a representative could call back. While they were unable to honor the exact offer for new customers, they were finally able to significantly reduce my monthly service fee. This required two transfers and about 1 hour of my life to make the deal.

Takeaway:  Consumers (29%) find it important that a customer service professional is ‘empowered to handle requests without transfers or escalations’. (American Express 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer)

Bonus Takeaway: Recognition of customers and consistency in message regardless of channel or touch point are key components of great customer experience.

As love is a complex journey to navigate so is achieving outstanding customer experience. Make the commitment, map out and prioritize the actions needed to reach your goals and for the love of the customer remain vigilant every step of the way.