Improving Customer Experience in a recession

Post Office Retail AreaWhen you have lots of little issues joining up together, as accident investigators know, that’s the time you get the major headaches.

But how this principle also applies to Customer Care?

Familiarity is a dangerous place.

As I was waiting in a Post Office the other day, somebody clearly thought that placing items for sale next to the queue was a good idea to increase sales.

And it was.

However as with most things, an idea isn’t enough. You must be able to effectively put it into practice. As you can see from the photograph that’s where they came unstuck. The display is dull, dreary, old fashioned, has no prices and also has a very uninspired product range. So, a good idea looks worse than not doing anything at all. Retail guru Mary Portas would have had a fit.

Combined with this mediocrity was grim and uninspiring décor and the place was filthy dirty.

And to top it all, there were a pile of customer satisfaction cards on the unit, asking the reader to fill in, log-on or whatever, to register their satisfaction (or otherwise).

Whilst I was there, nobody did and neither did I. It was so eye wateringly bad, that there was no incentive to bother. If they didn’t care, then why should we?

No doubt the Manager thought this was all OK, otherwise it wouldn’t have been like that!

It reminded me of a time in my early career working in a car Dealership. The Principal was adamant about the importance of Customer Care and every Service Customer had a pre-paid Customer Satisfaction Card stapled to their invoice.

92% of Customers were 100% satisfied; so he was happy.

He simply wouldn’t accept that this wasn’t the right assumption, as only a small proportion of the customers responded. Changes were needed, because the reality was that most customers were business users, so the invoice went to their accounts department.

Those customers that were unhappy were not completing the cards, but phoning the Service Department directly with their concerns – but this stat wasn’t part of the process and it wasn’t in the Service Managers interest to include it either, as 92% of his customers were 100% satisfied, OK?

But the Principal hung on to this process like grim death and thought that everything was hunky-dory, no changes required, despite the desperate pleas from his other Managers and staff.

The same applies in today’s difficult times. To succeed, the Customer Experience has to be better than ever. And that requires continual attention to detail, an open mind, great listening skills a transparent way of measuring the impact and the confidence to invest in the process.

All this at a time when the temptation and current general business feeling, is to minimise investment, hang tight, cut back staff time and weather the storm.

The danger with this approach is that those little problems can join together without warning, to conspire against you creating a very big headache indeed.

The result being that customers vote with their feet, buy elsewhere and start Social Media activity to publicly promote their poor experience to everybody they can tell their story to, except your organisation!

Jonathan Wainwright enables organisations to create commercial success through digital marketing, traditional communications and team development.

Join me on Twitter and LinkedIn.




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