Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Customer experience.

Some weeks ago I wrote a post about how the best thing management can do--and you don't need an MBA, research, focus groups, or tasks forces to do this--is "buy something from their own store."

That is, if you run a telco or a cable system, try to make sense of the monthly bill you get. Try to get an explanation for a service outage. Try to get help when you need it.

Or, if you run an airline, take a flight, in coach with your family and see what it's like. See what it's like being unable to cross your legs. See what it's like flying seven hours with a bar in your back from a shoddily made and maintained seat. See what it's like getting luggage from baggage claim, or getting information about a flight.

We hear a lot in our business about "experiences." People go on about the customer experience, the web experience, the shopping experience, and so on.

I think the people who talk most about experiences exist almost wholly in something like an experience lab. A hermetically sealed and unreal world where lights always turn green just as you're pulling up to them, the weather is always sunny and smiles are more than merely plasticine. 

Yesterday, I happened across an article called: “Digital Disappointment - The Customer Experience Disconnect Between Companies and Consumers.

Basically, the point of the item is simple.

Customer experience sucks. It sucks aggressively.

You can blame the usual culprits. That service workers don't care. That they're slovenly and lazy.

But I think the fault--the real fault--lays further up the corporate ladder.

Wages are low. There's no incentive to do a good job. Job security is nonexistent and corporate expectations are unyielding.

I'll be blunt.

There are days when I feel like bringing an old Hillerich and Bradsby "Louisville Slugger" to work and pummeling the first person who says aloud the phrase "customer experience" as if it's a good thing.

By my calculation 97% of all customer experiences suck. Online copy and instructions are full of jargon and confusing. I almost always feel victim of an aggressive hard-sell or a transparent bait and switch. And in store customer service--whether it's an airline like United, a telco like Verizon, an Internet Lack-of-Service Provider like Speculum, or any of a thousand others almost always sucks.

If I were a CEO, I'd try to return something to my own store, or order a burger from my own restaurants, or buy a ticket to my own basketball team.

Maybe then things would improve.

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