For a positive Customer Experience, uncertainty is the enemy

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What is the worst feeling in the world for a customer following a service interaction?

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For the customer, not getting exactly what they want from the interaction stinks…but it’s not the end of the world. As the Stones taught us years ago, “you can’t always get what you want.” A far worse outcome? Ending an interaction with a palpable feeling of uncertainty. These are the last thoughts that you want running through a customer’s head after a service interaction:

“What just happened?”

“Is someone actually going to call back?”

“I don’t have a lot of confidence that this is going to get taken care of…”

Nothing kills the customer experience like the customer feeling that the person at the other end of the phone, standing at the teller window or manning the check-in not only don’t have the answers…but feel no sense of urgency to find them. I had a recent experience with my oil company where the person who handled my call completed the rare triple play of confidence-busting interactions. Following the annual service on my heater, the gentleman who came out to my house (who had some customer experience issues of his own) informed my wife that we had a problem with the “smoke pipe” but that the person who schedules those repairs wasn’t in the office today…so call Monday.

When I called Monday, these were the three responses that I got – I’m sure you can guess the questions:

  1. “The person who handles that isn’t in today.”
  2. “I don’t think it’s dangerous but I’m not sure.”
  3. “Will she call you back? Well, I’ll leave her the message, but you might want to try calling her again tomorrow.”

Hmmm. No one here can help you, you and your family might be in grave danger, and we may or may not respond in a timely fashion. Have a great day! I’m guessing that my oil company has never put a lot of thought into the “customer experience,” but my experience was illustrative of a.) how everyone in an organization needs to be cognizant of how they effect customers, and b.) how customer experiences happen, at all times during the day, across all channels, and potentially with all employees – how prepared are you for them when they do!

Footnote: Janice did call me back the next day, confirmed that my family was not in grave danger but that the problem needed to be addressed and set up the appointment for me. But 24 hours of uncertainty was 24 too many.

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