El Reg writes: "Apparently we have to give customers the warm fuzzies ... How the heck do we do it?"
The answer is always "tribbles".
“The customer is king” is up there with some of the most overused corporate mantras. But it has now been translated into a new buzzword – Customer Experience, or CX – and a whole industry is evolving on the back of it. The purveyors of enterprise software, cloud services and digital devices would have you believe you can …
If you can give me a regular supply of warm fuzzies, I'm your customer!
Of course, I don't mind if they are shaved either.
This; '“Essentially it’s about making decisions based on the needs of your customers.' is priceless any insultant smart enough to figure this out and tell you about it, is worth paying at least a fiver,
to piss off and not tell you the bloody obvious.
If your customer doesn't need it he ain't likely to buy it, so no fuzzy experience for either of you.
Perhaps genuine research to determine customer needs is a first step, followed by possibly making whatever it is he needs, available at a reasonable price and following up with continuing service in a value for money format.
I will take payment in cash, bitcoins or sexual favours but don't tell my wife ( about any of them).
Perhaps genuine research to determine customer needs is a first step
I don't need warm fuzzies I need good reliable information if I am looking for something, yet trying to find such things as specifications is about as rewarding as trying to find hens teeth. I usually end up going to the manufacturers site, if I can find out who that is, to again try and find the information I want (it is not always possible to find it there either).
On a more serious note, if companies concentrated more on providing QUALITY, rather than some ill-defined "customer experience", they might not have some of the problems they're having. But for some reason too many companies continue to provide complete shit yet hound me to explain how my "experience" was - then refuse to listen when I tell them it was complete shit. Fucking managers always looking at the wrong stats, and accountants looking at the wrong numbers, that's who I blame.
To be fair, companies offering "cheap and cheerful" services are pretty much screwed these days.
It used to be the case that people understood that if they paid very little, they got very little in return and that was fair enough. You wanted a better service, you paid more for it.
The problem comes when people expect to get a service that is better than it is possible to deliver for the price being paid. Marketing then does their level best to attract customers on a false premise and then lock them in to using their companies for a long period and this is now accepted business practice.
Because the market for premium services is always much smaller than the lower end of the market other companies have the choice of either going bust while everybody goes to the cheaper supplier, or dropping their moral standards to compete. What we really need to sort it all out is some effective and enforceable advertising standards (ie broadband "up to $speed" and "unlimited usage" needs to be slain in the ADSL market, and similar examples in other industries)
We have always paid "over the odds" for our internet connection at home. But we do that on the basis that the extra money goes to funding things like backups, future upgrades and real technical support staff based in the UK and competent to deal with problems. As a result, i'm still a happy customer and the only real problem I recall in about 15 years is the cable outside our house having an intimate encounter with a digger. (which of course is not fairly or reasonably attributable to the ISP!)
If I was with talktalk (for instance) then I expect I would be raging at them having massively oversold what they can deliver for their price point, and then having poor customer service. But is it really reasonable to expect 38Mb/s VDSL, free for 18 months, with free geographic telephone calls and professional systems and support at £10 per month...? (after 18 months free service)
I remember being taught a saying that started "if something looks too good to be true..." which sadly seems to have died a horrible death from neglect.
Previously known as UX or user experience. More about the (graphical) user interface though rather than overall experience from a service perspective. Usability, accessibility, performance and simplicity are some of the experienced qualities worth testing. Nowadays firms just launch ten different interfaces that perform the same function without considering more aesthetic design requirements...
" Nowadays firms just launch ten different interfaces that perform the same function without considering more aesthetic design requirements..."
What???? No, all too often they provide a single interface which isn't the same as it was last month and is based entirely on aesthetics and fails on functional requirements.
If user experience is UX, I'm guessing most websites are aiming for a Fabulous User Experience and fall woefully short. What works fine one month is hopelessly and irretrievably broken because some bright spark wants to lard the site with pointless whizz-bangery that only the latest and shiniest browsers can parse, and one spends more time trawling the source trying to find any useful links in the mess.
We might as well call out two companies right now; both Dell and HP have pretty terrible websites. Not only is the information that you want ("show me the latest drivers for this machine, with download links") buried as deeply as possible, but both websites (from manufacturers of servers that between them probably run half the world's websites) are dog slow.
In a world void of brand loyalty where companies are fighting for the attention of customers, and where customers’ perceptions of businesses are only as good as their last interaction, quality of service is fast becoming the differentiator.
Not, I suspect, a significant concern in the world of ISP hell desks, nor in the world of a well - known high street retailer with the letters "PC" in its name, with which I had an utterly futile attempt to speak to someone this morning; ploughed through several layers of numerical menus to get the usual "all of our agents are very busy" blather.
Suggested Mission Statement for all of them: We Hate All Our Customers Equally.
Sell somebody a long life item, say a fridge, from a store that's so ludicrously understaffed that it takes longer to find a sales droid than to buy the item. Immediately after delivery, start bombarding your customer with several sales emails a week that they never signed up for. Provide an 'unsubscribe' facility that doesn't work.
Curry's, I'm looking at you. You guys certainly know how to provide a perfectly dreadful UX.
In future I'll go out of my way to buy stuff from anybody else but you.
White goods. There's a smallish company out there that does it right. Starting with proper specifications easy to find (L,W,D of a fridge that had to go in a triangular space under stairs). Also customer reviews that I felt I could trust, including the product's "warts". Then a straightforward ordering process. Then delivery in a two-hour slot mutually agreed. Finally delivery drivers with mobile phones who are allowed to use them. (Mine called ahead to say he was running early, would that be a problem? )
Mark's Electricals. I think they're Midlands only. Nationwide soon, if there's any justice.
Recently Worktop Express pretty much replicated that experience, with online specification of every detail of a custom worktop in place of easy to find specifications.
Screwfix deserves a mention for trade/DIY supplies by click and collect. The system works beautifully. It has to -- if they don't get repeat business they'll fail.
There really isn't that much to it. Make it easy to find what you want and to order it. Let the customer know when it might be delivered before he orders (if there's a long wait then he may prefer to order something else). Give the customer a short timed delivery slot, and keep him informed on the day. I'm perfectly prepared to accept that traffic jams etc might mean keeping to the arranged time is impossible - so phone me as soon as you know of the problem to rearrange the time, OK?
Firstly, any "story" which quotes Gartner turns me right off. How did their stupid quadrant get acceptance as something "magical" outside of the 3-6 year age range?
Secondly, how the hell is the fact that people like to easy to use websites & dislike hard to use ones not obvious to everyone? Is someone really going to read this and go "ah, THAT's one tiny trick"? Surely the problem's deeper than that? I tried to use First Great Western's mobile site the other day to buy a ticket - a "user story" which you'd think might have been tested - to find that that was apparently not possible. So you're right at least about the customer only caring about their last transaction, cause another company got my business & I won't be using them again.
Hope that's at least ranty enough to be entertaining, [smiley face]
What they don't seem to get is that customers talk to their friends. Most especially they grouse to their friends. If you treat their customers like crap there will be lots of formerly potential customers who will now shop elsewhere. And you won't know that it's happening. They'll say in private what they don't dare post in writing in public. Eventually you'll run out of naive victims to abuse.
By the way, every initially negative customer experience can be turned into an overwhelmingly positive customer experience. If something has gone wrong, apologize by deeds not just words. Put it right as efficiently and promptly as possible! You have one and only one chance at this - use it!
Yet another TLA for OtherwiseUselessMiddleManagement (OUMM) to bandy about in TotallyUselessMeetings (TUMs).
 Yes, I know, but three letters seem to have been depreciated recently ... Probably an artifact left over from the observation that the latest batch of OUMM are seemingly no longer able to count past two.
 Something the investors might want to invest in ;-)
"In certain sectors – such as telecoms, logistics and grocery retail – performance has declined, rather than improved,”
I recently had an excellent CX (or UX, if you like) when my Virgin Mobile contract came up for renewal. Phoned the Helldesk expecting to have to struggle to understand the robot on the other end, but was pleasantly surprised to hear a jolly, knowledgable, helpful Brummie accent, who took me through all the possible routes to extending my contract, explained all the pros and cons of every tariff, and made sure I was sold the very best for my needs. Well done Virgin Mobile!
On the other hand, I have had some pretty dire experiences with other service providers, and as a result have shifted my business to their competitors.
On a slightly different tack, Customer Loyalty. Why is it that if you stay with a service provider for a long time, your costs slowly increase while your benefits slowly erode. Getting a quote from a new provider, using exactly the same criteria, will nearly always get much better deals. This is why Price Comparison sites have mushroomed, if service providers valued Customer Loyalty, there would be no need to trawl the net for the best deal, you would already have it.
And don't get me started on train ticket websites! How come a ticket from Rugby to Stroud costs £80 if you buy it on line, but if you go to the trouble of buying two tickets, one from Rugby to Birmingham International, and one from BI to Stroud, the pair of them only cost £18. You use exactly the same seats on exactly the same trains, for less than a quarter of the price. Madness!
Why is it that if you stay with a service provider for a long time, your costs slowly increase while your benefits slowly erode. Getting a quote from a new provider, using exactly the same criteria, will nearly always get much better deals
In tech, because the state of the art advances and the cost for service X goes down. But there's no incentive to pass on the new deal to an existing customer who just renews the old one by direct debit. Benefits erode? I've never noticed that.
In insurance, just because they can boost your premium every year if you just renew whatever they tell you. Bastards.
I have always found that the best approach is to use a price comparison site and then call your current service provider and tell them that you are happy to renew a decent service, but only at the price you found on the comparison site. That price may be their own, or that of a competitor offering (as far as you are concerned) the same service. They usually agree. At the end of the day be clear in your own mind how much extra you'll pay for the devil you know, if they won't price-match.
Last year it failed for my car insurance for the first time in about 20 years. So I changed insurer. The old one wanted three times what the competition did, and wouldn't budge, unlike in the past. I guess they just didn't want me at all.
Scottish Water used Rant & Race’s Sentiment Engine to analyse customer feedback in real-time, producing what the firm reckoned was a 29 per cent decrease in customer complaints.
Ok, suppose they have a thousand complaints per year (Reasonable? Maybe). They went down to 710. Sounds good. But for those 710 people, it doesn't matter -- they still had a reason to complain. That complaint may have been that SW's heavy equipment once drove past their house on the way to an incident, or it may have been a customer that has no other choice (due to their natural monopoly) and had their water pipe break for the fourth time that year. To that customer, no amount of WTFX is going to help, they want their problem fixed -- permanently -- or at least a plan how this is going to be fixed.
Just sell me stuff that works well, with its interface designed by someone who understands what yer average human wants of an interface and that wont; give them any kind of RSI. Make it last a decent amount of time rather than fall to bits within six months. If problems develop with it, I do NOT want to have to spend several minutes crawling through an automated phone system - I want to speak to a human, pronto, and if possible, have the option of just walking into a shop where a human will sort out the issue in a reasonable amount of time. I do not want to part with inessential data that the retailer doesnt need to know (they can want all they like, but they get what they NEED from me). I do not want to be told of other products and services unless I ask to be told about them. I want the company that sells me the stuff I just bought to understand that that company exists in order to serve me, its employees, society ion general, and its shareholders in that order, and that I do not exist in order to serve it.
That is the full extent of what I want in terms of 'customer experience'. Kthxbye.
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