I was opening a package of laundry detergent recently, but the problem was, the plastic bag wouldn't open.
It was one of those zip lock bags that a lot of stuff comes in now. I tore off the top section, then moved the "zipper" from left to right, expecting the bag to open so I could take out a detergent pod and wash my clothes.
But the bag still didn't open.
Then I took to the consumer's last resort: I carefully read and followed the directions, but still no luck - the bag wouldn't open. That's when I noticed the following message beneath the instructions:
Don't make it difficult for your customer to get their hands on your product. Start by making it easy to open the packaging.If you find yourself creating a video to help your customer open the packaging, that should be a sign that it's too complicated, and that you should probably re-think your product's packaging.
In fact if you're producing a lot of instructional content for any step in your customer's journey, think about re-designing those steps to make them simpler and more intuitive for the customer.
Two weeks ago, I made a reservation to stay at the Radisson Blu in Chicago. A couple days after making the reservation, I received an email survey. I chose not to answer it, and deleted the email. Three days later, they sent me another email, asking me to complete the same survey.
If you were knocking on doors in your neighborhood asking residents to take a survey, and Mrs. Jones told you that she didn't want to take the survey, would you go back a few days later and knock on Mrs. Jones' door again? Probably not. Most of us were brought up to respect people's privacy.
Why is it different with email surveys? Why is it that when we choose to not respond to the survey, some companies come back to our inbox a few days later and ask us again?
The actual answer is quite simple, but the actual impact is likely deeper. The reason companies come back a second time, as Carlson Rezidor (the parent company of Radisson Blu) did with me, is because they'll likely boost the overall number of survey responses; surely some recipients will open the email, and take the time to respond to the survey the second time around.
That's good for survey response rates, but is it good for the customer experience?
When a survey arrives in my inbox, I make a conscious decision to open and respond, or delete. If I choose "delete," then 2 days later the company sends me a second email, my impression is that they don't respect my time or my privacy; they care more about their response rates than they do about me. And that makes for a bad customer experience.
The issue is this:
The positive result of asking customers a second time to complete a survey is presented in hard, visible data. Marketing people are driven by data. But while many more customers may be offended by the second survey request, there's no data collected to reveal this.
It's like the tree falling in the forest when no one was there to see or hear it. Just because you have no evidence of the fallen tree doesn't mean that all the trees are standing tall.
And just because no customers complain about the bothersome second request doesn't mean that all customers are happy or indifferent about it.
What good is raising your survey response rate, if you're potentially lowering the quality of your customers' experience?
I've been a customer of Time Warner Cable for nearly 30 years. Not because of I love the company, but because they're really the only game in town for cable television and Internet service.
And as the data reveal, the cable industry is usually dead-last in customer satisfaction. According to the Consumerist, "Time Warner Cable Has Lowest Customer Satisfaction Score Of All U.S. Companies, Not Just Cable Providers." That's based on data from a Consumer Reports survey.
But during my 30 years' experience as a customer, there has been one consistently shining star in Time Warner's dark customer service sky, and that's the elder customer service representatives (CSR's). I've noticed a pattern among them - they're authentically kind people - not "scripted-kind" - and they don't defend those unfriendly policies that cable companies are very good at creating.
Take Bud, for example. During a recent customer service experience, I was making changes to my account. I tried to do it twice over the phone, and each time, dealt with a younger CSR that defended Time Warner's unfriendly policies - the kind of policies that make life inconvenient for the customer. Out of frustration, I decided to drive out to the Time Warner office, and wait in line so I could resolve the situation face-to-face with a flesh-and-blood human.
That's when I met Bud - a gentleman presumably in his early 70's - calm, confident, andnot afraid of losing his job for empathizing with the customer. In those same situations where the CSR on the phone read me a company policy, Bud would say, "Unfortunately, we don't make this easy for you..." or even, "I apologize for the inconvenience." Those are phrases I never heard from the younger CSR's. And that's too bad, because just hearing those words from another human being made Time Warner Cable, even for one bright shining moment, seem like a customer-friendly company.
Hey Time Warner, you guys should teach all your CSR's' to be more like Bud.
Tell them that it's ok to apologize to a customer for inconveniencing them.
Tell them that's it's ok to admit that a policy isn't very customer-friendly.
Tell them that they won't get fired for showing a little more empathy to the customer.
And perhaps, have your young new-hires shadow your senior statesmen like Bud, to learn what empathy is, how it works, and why it's important in customer service.