Whenever I rent a car, I dread the moment when the agent asks if I want collision damage waiver insurance. I don’t want it, but the way the question is asked always makes me second guess myself for a moment.
And then there is the confusing array of refueling options, and the half dozen clauses I have to initial on the application. By the time I’ve got the keys, I’m never entirely certain what I’ve signed up for. And I’m slightly worried that it’s more than I thought.
This is, of course, a terrible customer experience. The emotions the rental car process produces – uncertainty, confusion, anxiety – are exactly the sort of negative feelings that destroy long-term value for a company.
One car rental company seems to have taken this to a new level. According to the New York Times, Payless Car Rental has a pattern of “pointlessly antagonizing its customers.”
In one case, a Payless customer returned a car and found she had been charged for personal liability insurance that she had repeatedly declined. The same agent who rented her the car claimed to lack authority to remove the charge. The renter began to get collection letters, even after she had paid the disputed charge to avoid damaging her credit rating.
Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy
Several years ago, in worldwide customer service experience research conducted for a major high-tech client, to drive stronger downstream customer behavior, it was found that processes and customer interaction had to take service employees well beyond the basics of knowledge, efficiency, and friendliness. Consistently, and irrespective of continent or country, the most effective reps showed true empathy for the customer’s issue, literally “owning” the issue as if it were theirs as well, walking in their shoes. and making a true emotional connection.
What wasn’t so completely understood at the time is that that this level of employee commitment and personal investment also positively impacted the employee experience. This was something of an epiphany for our client, representing an unanticipated ‘bonus’ result.
Customer experience pros can argue back-and-forth about whether a vendor can create deep emotions such as bonding and love in a customer. There are lots of articles and studies around stating things like “Highly engaged customers are loyal customers”. There’s little doubt that engaged customers can, and do, help shape the brand. They can also provide useful feedback and build brand-based communities. Today, is that enough?
How much time did you spend on your mobile today? Are you reading this article on it right now? When you misplace it or forget it at home, be honest: Do you feel naked without your phone?
Smartphone users love their phones. I know I do (my answers are 2.5 hours; no, but if it weren’t mine I would be; and yes.) Over two billion people use them two hours a day. With this much time spent fiddling with the phone, the chances are that many of your customers’ ONLY Customer Experience is a mobile user experience (UX). Far too many organizations are not optimizing this experience the way they should.
Consider your answers to the following questions:
Can you remember a time when a mobile functionality took ten times longer to undertake on your mobile than it would on your desktop? How did you feel at that moment?
Have the graphics (or worse yet, some ads) ever taken forever to load, leading you to bail on the site?
At our customer experience consultancy, we talk a lot about creating value. A customer’s perception of value drives customer loyalty and retention. And those things in turn create long-term value for a business.
But companies don’t just create value by accident. Those who do it best embrace a strategy that puts value into the very fabric of corporate culture.
Gautam Mahajan has now written an excellent book on this topic, called Value Creation: The Definitive Guide for Business Leaders. Mahajan argues that an executive’s role is to create value, rather than just to be a good administrator or an efficient manager. Many executives are so comfortable in fulfilling their functional roles that they forget that creating Value will take them ahead, enhance their business objectives and profits, and make their customers happier.
Mahajan’s book offers a blueprint for CEOs to establish a value creation culture. The insights he provides can create a positive impact on your life whether you’re a C-suite executive, a volunteer, a public sector worker, a parent or a student.
Toblerone fans got a nasty surprise when they bought their favorite treat recently. The chocolate bar got a makeover, losing volume and a noticeable gap between the triangles. Customers noticed the change, but not in a good way.
The company that produces Toblerone bars is Mondelez International. They cite the rising cost of ingredients as the reason for the change. They wanted to keep the shape and the packaging but needed to cut costs. Hence, the gap between the peaks that outrages customers—and reflects poorly on their brand.
Many companies are attempting to improve their Customer Experience focus on some of the right things and then ignore the others. Why? They don’t know what to do next. So while the vast majority of companies today know that putting the Customer at the heart of everything they do is important, when it’s time to do it, they are flummoxed.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you implement your new and improved Customer Experience.
Step one: Get the buy-in of the entire organization.
The emotional, irrational side of a Customer Experience is important for every member of your team to believe, from top to bottom. This fact is plain when you propose changing the goals of your company to report to a metric based on this fact. Start at the top, as their influence is keenly felt on down the line. Furthermore, they direct the resources. But don’t forget to convince the rest of the team, too. Once everyone is rowing together toward a deliberate emotional experience, there is no stopping the pace of change.