Create a Great Customer Experience
By Lior Arussy
question “how do we get started?” frequently crops up.
Despite the fact that there is a mass of material available in
the realm of customer experience, it seems to be too abstract in
nature to help practitioners bring it to reality in their
organizations. In order to
discuss customer experience in a practical way, let’s take a common
experience and try to redesign it to be delightful and amazing.
chagrin, my extensive travel provides me with ample examples of bad
experiences to choose from. A
recent car rental experience will serve as a great example of a missed
opportunity to create a great experience, even during a problem
situation. The company’s
name will remain anonymous, as we are not doing this exercise as a
form of revenge. I will,
however, assure you that the company’s advertising messages
reiterate that they are fully committed to customers.
The company also segments its customers to gold, silver and
otherwise in order to be able to differentiate its service.
As a gold
member with this company, I made reservations to rent a mid size car
for 3 days in Phoenix, Arizona. This is not my first
rental with the company and I am used to the mid size cars they
provide. I arrived at
night and waited 20 minutes for a bus pick up to take me from the
terminal to the car rental station.
Other car rental companies had at least two rounds of pick ups,
but no bus from my car rental company was in sight.
When the bus finally arrived, it filled up quickly with other
people who had also waited for 20-30 minutes.
The bus was packed to the point that it was downright
view – at night we can reduce costs and have less buses traveling.
Customers have no choice. They will wait.
Filling up the bus until it is stuffed is a good efficiency
measure that saves us money.
view – at night I am tired and want to get to my car and
subsequently my hotel room ASAP. My
time is valuable, please respect it.
Do not let me see all the other car rental buses passing by and
remind me that I made a mistake in selecting your company.
arrival at the car rental lot, I went straight to the waiting car.
To my amazement, it was an old small car, not one of the cars I
usually get. The parking
lot seemed to be full of other cars.
There was no shortage of cars, but someone decided that a gold
member should get the worst car available.
View – Let’s try it and see if we can get away with it.
Since the customer arrives at night maybe he will not notice
the lemon we just dumped on him.
View – You know my preferences and my loyalty, why are you doing
this to me? On top of
waiting more than necessary for a bus, this experience is really
deteriorating. This car is
not worth the price I am paying. I
was just taken for a ride!
to be a good customer and give the car a try.
I started to drive it only to notice that it was tiny inside
and didn’t have much pickup. In
addition, the doors would not open easily and required manual
arriving at my hotel, I immediately called the customer service center
and complained. I was
transferred between 3 people (one of them contending that the company
does not even carry the model I claimed to get!).
Eventually I was told that I needed to take the car back to the
airport, return it, and rent a new car.
Since I was working all day, this needed to be done at night.
I pointed out to the service center that they had a local
office near the facility I was working at, but they declined to accept
my suggestion that I do the replacement there.
At one point in the discussion, I was blamed for taking the car
in the first place, like it was my choice.
View – You’ve got the problem.
You have to spend the time to fix it.
We can waste your time as much as we want to.
We are big and mighty
View – Own your part of the problem.
Send a person with a car to my office and make the transition
smooth. Why do you ask me
to waste my time to fix a problem you created?
Why do you compel me to return and re-rent instead of making a
returning the car (no I did not go to return and re-rent, I simply did
not have an extra hour to do it) I was asked if I had a good
experience with the car. I
told them it had not been a good experience by any stretch of the
imagination. They offered to give me some additional discount on my
view – let’s buy us some silence.
It is always about money.
View – A discount will maybe help my CFO, but not me. What about me?
Can you assure me it that will not happen again?
You knew my status and still ignored me. Why should I trust you
in the future? How about
some free rental for my personal needs instead of a refund to my
company? Will you escalate
the issue? Will you do anything with what I told you?
Will you get back to me with any type of resolution? Do not ask
me those courteous questions if there is no real action intended when
you hear my response. This
story illustrates multiple missed opportunities
You know you have many gold members waiting for cars, do not
have them wait. When
competing companies pass by while your customers wait for you, they
question the reason for their loyalty.
Be there right away. Schedule
your bus service to focus on their needs
Always treat your loyal customers with something extra.
Never give them the worst car on the lot.
Upgrade them, even if it is not necessary.
(Usually upgrades are given when it is convenient for the
company, not the customer.) Be
generous, it will pay off. Treat
your customers well and they will return.
When someone complains, own the problem.
Deliver proactive service.
Don’t ask the customer to invest more of their time and
effort to fix problem you have created.
Send someone with a new car to their office.
Make the process smooth and fast.
Make them believe that you care.
Follow up is a must. Since
I did not return my car early, as requested, it meant that I was still
driving the same car and was probably still unhappy.
Call me and find out why I did not replace the car.
There might still be an opportunity to satisfy me.
Do not ask courteous questions such as “how was it?” if you
do not intend to do something about it.
We know the difference between scripted text and honest
intentions. Do not fake
Act on the insights and tell me when and how you will get back
Offer meaningful compensation, not a discount that will not
matter to me as a person. My
CFO did not drive this car, but he will get the benefit of your
discount. Thank you on his
behalf! I am sure he will
of people I spoke to all demonstrated fake sympathy while delivering
pathetic experiences. It
was not one person’s mistake. It
seems to be corporate behavior. This
car rental company missed seven different opportunities to do the
right thing. Why?
Because they never thought about me, it was all about them.
For them, I was in a sense both a cash cow and available for
exploitation. They were
wrong. Here is a small
caveat I forgot to mention. They
were also 40% more expensive than other car rental companies.
I rented from them because I was paying a premium for the peace
of mind of arriving at night and getting my usual car.
If on top of everything you are a premium price provider,
you’d better get your act together.
If the company was smart, they would notice that I have not
booked any additional rentals with them.
Needless to say, those rentals are no longer with this company.
always held the position that great customer experiences start with
simple customer centric thinking and with proactive service. The bells
and whistles are a nice added touch, but the basics have to be done
right the first time. And even when mistakes happen, there is still an
opportunity to do the right thing immediately.
It is not that difficult, you just need to switch from a
company view (a.k.a. arrogant, controlling, self serving, customer as
a sucker) to a customer view (a.k.a. respect, proactive service,
authentic approach, intention to serve).
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