Customer Experience Basics are more important than Wow Moments


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  • Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

    Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. However, no Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right. Or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

    A Bottle of Champagne Cannot Save Your Brand

    Last week, I spent four nights at the Marriott in Berlin, Germany. My husband and I represent a loyal customer with high lifetime value. He has Marriott Elite Status. We are in our late 30s – plenty of time left to travel. Our recent hotel customer experience confirms that, when basic customer experience design work is missing, a bottle of champagne cannot save your brand.

    The hotel employees had zero communication with each other. The maintenance person who unsuccessfully tried to fix the AC the first night did not tell the front desk he recommended a room change. The next day, after the front desk said the move could “only happen later,” hotel employees arrived to take our things to our “new room.”

    customer experience fails

    When I forgot my flip-flops in the original room, it took 3 business days, 2 front desk phone calls, 2 in-person front desk conversations, and 2 conversations with room service to get them back. The flip-flops arrived the night before my flight back to New York. Somewhere among these bad customer interactions, we received a bottle of champagne. And an apology note from the hotel.

    Is Poor Customer Experience the Norm?

    The sad part is that customer experiences like this are part of our everyday lives. The Mount Sinai Hospital appointments system is literally non-existent. A patient can schedule one appointment for the morning and another for late afternoon. However, the nurses cannot optimize the visit and make both appointments in the same half-day.

    When my girlfriend was re-admitted to the hospital a week after her release, her parents had to answer the EXACT SAME questions they answered the first time. The system did not allow the new nurse to see the original answers.

    In a nutshell, the hospital lacks internal communication systems for employees to reference across touch points. As a result, the front line employees constantly look like fools to frustrated customers.

    What is the ROI on Good Customer Experience?

    Since the need is dire and the impact grave, why don’t brands fix this? There are several reasons.

    First, “fixing” this problem means investing significant money in technology. Investments need ROI. But what is the ROI of improving service? Will you sell more rooms if I get my flip-flops back faster? How does a CX professional prove that claim?

    Second, organizations (incorrectly) fail to recognize this extensive work as customer-facing. If you go to any organization (the way they are set today) you will find the communication systems for employees is considered “back office.” Leaders rarely make the connection that empowering the front line improves Customer Experience.

    Third, this work is not “sexy.” It just isn’t. It is Excel spreadsheets and ancient legacy systems that need to be integrated or rebuilt. The solution must be real-time to empower employees. That brings complexity and drives the price tag even higher.

    Wow the Customer with Consistency

    Brands should work on wowing the customer by delivering consistent experiences and nailing the basics. They must do this before introducing the great one-off experiences they deliver to a few guests.

    You wow your customer much more when their digital key opens their room door in Boston AND Berlin. Or when they know they can rely on digital checkout in both countries. The bottle of champagne only brings value when the customer’s basic needs have been met.

    Don’t deliver champagne in lieu of consistent, positive customer experience.

    Design Customer Experience to Protect Your Brand

    Become a Member of The Petrova Experience.

    Organizational Culture and Access to Information

    By and large, people perceive culture as an HR discipline. The most common perception is that culture covers the soft side of performance. Culture is about how you do things, not so much about what you do. This approach to culture could not be more wrong. In fact, organizational culture is about so much more than a few words in a performance review sheet.  It is about leaders expressing values, and the action guidance their cultural behaviors provide.

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