Setting CX expectations….the smart way.

I recently contacted my ISP to renegotiate my account plan (I’m sure it happens anywhere that new customer offers are way less expensive than your current plan, which, to a loyal customer, always looks kind of a fraud) and the agent over the phone stopped our conversation almost mid-sentence to clearly state that, if contacted by a third party for a CX survey, and if I was happy with the service, then the right score should be 9-10 out of 10 because (as he then pointed out) scoring a mere 8 would not give them their bonus.

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My first reaction to this, while smiling and thinking of how my mother used to tell me at school that only excellence would be rewarded (the 9-10 out of 10 score), was to assure the guy that I would put the highest number available, and that I would tell my kids that the same method would be applied to them, from now on [sadistic evil mother’s face ON].

Then I started thinking of my school background, and how often a very good score did not get me gifts and rewards because it was considered as my duty, while excellence on the other hand was perceived as “going beyond duty” and therefore much more chased, sought and finally appreciated. This set the right expectations for the professional and personal life beyond as an adult.

So did this guy really gave me an exceptional CX? Did he go beyond his duty during our call? He basically called me to offer a discount that would bring my plan to an average compared to the competition, said that this was the only thing he was allowed to do, which besides I gladly accepted, as am not keen on swapping provider every other month.

But an exceptional CX? A 9-10 out of 10 score? What would be my expectation for such a score? What if he had told me that the discount he was offering was beyond his duty and he was probably not even allowed but wanted to help anyway? Even while offering the same discount, I would have probably rated this CX as exceptional, but the way he presented the offer made it seem like normal operation, so nothing really _beyond his duty.

Do you see the problem here? It’s not the rating, it’s the question to the customer.

If we set the score on another perspective, things might change. What if instead of an exceptional CX we start measuring the customer effort score, i.e. how much effort did the customer have to put in solving the problem? I basically scheduled a callback on the website and the discount I wanted came right at my door. So if the question was “in a scale of 1 to 10, how easy it was getting what you wanted?” I would have definitely rated this a 10.

Sometimes we need to make sure our expectations are set right for our CX, otherwise we risk rating with wrong mindset and encourage a culture of highly rated mediocrity while on the other hand we strive to reach perfection when it’s already in front of our eyes.

Oh, and by the way, I gave the guy a 9. 🙂

The unbearable lightness of a good customer experience (Einmal ist keinmal)

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One occurrence is not significant. This really sums up our feelings towards customer experience. If we happen to find the unicorn of CX, where everything runs smoothly and is fabulous and neat, we will still rant about the other 99% of occasions which left us sour-mouthed.

And why is that? I mean why can’t we brag about one nice experience and make it up for the other fails? I guess the answer is bordering philosophy and the fact that there is an intrinsic lightness to our experiences with companies and providers.

Or is it just that companies and providers are not making the effort and don’t deserve our feelings nor to be considered meaningful?

For now on, my resolve will be to spot any good CX and post it here, so it is no longer non-significant, at least for a few bytes. 🙂

Lost in survey – and 5 tips to get the most out of it

I promised to post about surveys as a lot of people periodically complain about the very existence of them. On the other hand, a well designed and well accepted survey is one of the most powerful tools companies have to understand their audience. Some guy told me, a few days ago, that not only he loves responding to surveys and expressing his opinion directly, he specifically loves long and complex questionnaires, as opposed to quick polls.

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The world is really a funny place! 🙂

So here’s 5 tips on how to push your questions out to customers and prospects:

1. Set your goal straight. even with a long survey, you need to have one specific goal in your head that you want to reach by pushing out questions (net promoter’s score, first call resolution, etc…): remember that bugging your customers for no reason is never a good idea.

2. Define your target. As the same set of questions might not apply to different demographics, also depending on the channel defined to collect responses, it is usually wise to decide what the target is, and plan accordingly.

3. Keep it short. No matter how many questions you have to ask, if it takes more than 5 seconds to read, we’ll skip to the next, and if forced to answer it might not be accurate. And remember that I only know one guy who loves long surveys…

4. Keep it simple. The lure of a complex, branched, multi-path survey might make you want to hyper-analyze every bit of information provided. But as it comes, people love simplicity, especially when performing a boring task. The more complex the survey, the higher the abandon rate. Plus the analytic of a simple survey will be refreshingly straight to the point.

5. Give rewards. You are asking my honest insight of your business and 5 to 30 minutes of my time, and you want all of this for free? C’mon, you know better than that.

5 signs of a (very) wrong customer experience

Whenever we’re trying to get hold of a company, and regardless of the chosen channel, there are five things that define a bad experience:

1. no Consistency. I’d like very much that the same information I read on the website is the one published on the other channels, including the agents’ response. This is especially and sadly true for the public administration, where often the digital channels are not updated and the latest information is not right there, it is instead inherited from agent to agent like a bedtime story.

2. no Context. If I am browsing different channels and finally get to call the customer service, I’d at least expect them to know that I have tried other channels and possibly raise my request’s priority according to the time I am spending on the issue, not the time I am spending in the voice queue.

3. no Content. I passed the voice portal maze, the website and the app, finally got hold of a human being who doesn’t know a fit about me or my problem, or even the company I am supposedly calling, because he/she is probably working for another company in another country altogether.

4. no Care of my problem. once I gave up the self-service way and decided to interact with a human, it makes me cringe to find out how little interest the human I am contacting has towards helping me and solving my problem.

5.unsatisfied Customer. Sometimes the service is really good and the product rocks, but you still have a cranky customer that for no apparent reason will rant endlessly to and about your company.That’s just life!!

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A short chat survey? Sure, why not!

Recently I was browsing through a website, and got a small discreet popup asking if I could answer 3 questions.

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I usually skip surveys as they are painfully long to answer and bring little benefit to my cause (more about surveys in another post), but the non-intrusive aesthetics, and the promise of a short interaction made the decision for me, and so I ventured into the jungle of customer experience surveys.

This particular one revealed itself to be a nice surprise: not only the 3 questions were really appropriate and totally related to my browsing, the last one even gave me the chance to pick one of 3 improvements I would have liked on the e-commerce page I was visiting!

If only this could be the average survey…

Diaries of the voice portal (part 2)

Few weeks ago I wrote about the first voice portals, back in ’97.

Fast forward 5 years. VoIP communication is all the rage and we all merrily jump in the wagon (we do love us a new technology, don’t we) and start working on the network. All without knowing a thing about IP stuff, hoping that the behavior of our nice little voice toys, on IP transport, would be the same. And obviously it is not. images (1) I remember getting a call from a customer one afternoon timidly complaining that their voice responses (and in fact the whole contact center) was not answering calls: it was, in fact,  dropping calls. Now, dropping calls in a telephony environment is like the worst thing that could happen, only second to a complete major outage of the platform (or death in the family), so I righteously panicked and called the network guy that was in charge of the VoIP configuration. He answered calmly that he got the customer call as well and that he did get immediately into the system, checked his beloved router and saw that all was fine, so he scheduled the support for a more convenient day. He would look at the issue the next day as soon as he was in the office.

WTF?!?

Well, that was my first encounter with the “network guys”, where a bit of network outage did not mean _panic and destruction_ but only a few packets lost here and there, no fuss, no big deal. Hence the first lesson learned with VoIP: synchronous communication does mind if packets are lost, and even a few seconds outage IS a big deal and will probably at best miss portions of the interaction, at worst drop the whole connection. In the end it was the carrier’s fault and the connection with the voice gateway took all the blame, but after this occurrence the network guy never missed a “dropped calls” alert again. 🙂

3 signs you’re having a great CX!

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1. You don’t (have to) repeat yourself – this is the top annoying issue with every customer care interaction: having to repeat oneself across the channels and even through a simple transfer to a different department.

2. You still want your fix – you are contacting the company and you are mad and frustrated but you still love the product and want it fixed (as opposed to throwing it out of the window at the first 30 seconds’ queue).

3. You end the interaction in awe. Regardless of the outcome of the interaction (i.e. problem fixed or not), you end your interaction in a jaw dropping mood because you truly believed that they cared about you and wanted to make things better for you.

If I were a user (#2)

Why would I want to call a number, be harassed by an automated voice and stay in a queue for excruciatingly long minutes if I can do anything by myself on a website or mobile app?

Because somewhere in your self-service or company strategy, a process is broken and the end user cannot find the answers, that’s why!

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A few weeks ago I got a package from Amazon that I did not order. I double checked my orders – being a Prime customer, I have quite a few in my backlog 🙂 – and realized I had to tell them that there was no order with that ID, although it was sent to my correct name and address. Of course I checked on the website first, to see if I could do it myself, but nope, no way I could return an item that I did not order in the first place.

In the end I had to call customer care (with an odd callback policy, but they will call you back within seconds from your request, so totally forgivable) and even the agent could not fix the issue, so they sent me an email confirming that I could keep the item as they had no way of having me return it. This is obviously a good example of customer experience: although there was a broken process within the company, they made it as smooth as possible for the end user, but how many companies can claim they can cope with a broken internal process so neatly?

It’s not enough to provide omni-channel customer care with all the latest technology and the coolest strategy, if the internal processes are weak or missing: the customer journey plan begins always with content. It doesn’t matter to plan the “how” if you don’t have the “what” ready.

If I were a user (#1)

…I’d refuse to repeat myself across different channels!!!

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This is by far one of the most annoying things about any service: you struggle with an ivr, or browse through an authenticated portal, only to find out that the information were inconsistent and wrong and when you finally, angry and frustrated after hours of bad self-service experience, reach a live agent you get the much dreaded question “Can you please tell me your name and address?”.

This sucks!

Improving an already exceptional customer experience? Why, Yes!

I was recently in a round table at a marketing event, with an engaging title: “Selling and caring in the age of omni-channel”. My giveaways are two direct questions I got from customers:

  1. Is social presence really a must and is it worth the effort?
  2. How can we improve our customer experience to get the best out of the consumers’ value?lightbulb

The first answer was very easy: in my opinion you have to be out there. Yes, it’s a jungle, it’s hard, and kind of things will go bad at some point because people are always complaining and unsatisfied, and yes you will have to dedicate people answering social posts, but in the end….if you are not out there, your competitors are. And consumers will define your ability and innovation strive based on your presence_or worst, based on your absence.

The second question I still find tricky to answer: even if you are out there and even if you are giving a great customer experience and your product is gold and your customers love you…you still have a need for optimization and improvement that will drive you to the next step of your customer journey map.

And the only way of moving forward is innovation: try new things, ask your customers what would make them even happier, build a community to get them more connected (and let’s be honest, to build your own knowledge base around theirs), offer collateral services that might help them in their daily struggle, think out of the box. They will remember that, and love your company even more for taking the time to understand them. and in the end, they will keep buying from you. Because this is no longer the era of “business as usual”.