Where does your customer experience begin?

10 February 2015 Updated at 23 May 2019

Data collection and data analysis are important pieces of our strategy to improve the experience our customers have with our business. However, have we become mesmerized by “big data” and thus forget something much more basic?

We need to remember that who our customers interact with, in our business, is our business. And the better that experience is, the better our reputation and brand is.

I have two examples from this past weekend that may shed some light on this matter. One that made me go “huh?” and one that made me feel good about the company I did business with.

The Bad…

We took our son out for dinner for his birthday at an Italian restaurant that has many locations in the U.S. No, it does not start with O. It starts with M. The food is tasty and extremely reasonably priced.

We were in the lounge waiting for our table when a server that was standing behind my wife dropped a full glass of soda. Upon impact with the tile floor, the soda glass shattered, splashing soda all over my wife’s back. She went to the restroom to assess the damage to her blouse and blot out the soda so it would not stain. She then returned to our table wearing a damp shirt in an air-conditioned restaurant.

Accidents happen. It’s how you treat the customer after the accident that makes the difference. In this case, the manager was standing within two feet of my wife and four feet from the accident. I expected him to come right over and apologize. He waited until she returned from the restroom. Fair enough. He apologized and offered to have her blouse dry-cleaned if necessary. This is expected. Again, fair enough. What I found strange is the fact that instead of positively increasing our level of customer experience, he let it go at that. He never asked if we were having dinner. He did not ask my wife if he could buy her an appetizer, dessert, or even a cocktail for the trouble one of his servers caused her. Instead, we were left to wonder if we have an out dated impression of how to take care of a customer.

Now, if we waited for the data from this event, we may never have any insight that this event took place. Does an incident like this get tracked? If so, who is responsible to track it? If it is tracked, how do they track the reaction of the customer? They didn’t come by and do a survey on how we felt the treatment of the incident affected our attitude of their restaurant brand. Yet, when we had dinner, we were questioning ourselves as to why we would come back to the restaurant again based on this one incident.

The Good…

Contrast the previous example to a rental car experience I had. This was with the one that starts with H in Philadelphia. I am a gold member. As a gold member I received an email detailing the type of rental car and it’s pick up location. I found the car, and upon leaving, Ann, the attendant helping me, noticed that the engine was making funny noises. I didn’t hear it because, due to the heat and humidity, I had the air-conditioning on high. Ann also recognized that I’m a gold member and insisted I go back to the gold canopy area and pick out another car. I did not have to wait in the gold line to get a replacement car. That made me feel great. My previous experiences with H in Philadelphia have been poor at best, and I travel there on a regular basis. Ann made all the difference for me that day.

If we look at the data, it shows that a car was returned and a new car was taken. It won’t show the positive customer experience that Ann created for me.

When you’re looking to improve and manage your Customer’s Experience, remember that it is all about the customer. How your customer is treated at the point of their interaction with your company makes the difference you are looking for. Customer Experience interactions must be transformed into Customer Experience Intelligence for improvements to be made.

Jim Marzola
Jim Marzola
Business & Decision - North America

Throughout his 30 years of experience, Jim has developed expertise in Customer Relationship Management, Customer Experience Management, and employing best practices to make them work. He is recognized as an innovator and thought leader by clients and business partners for his exceptional knowledge of CRM…

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