Ways to improve customer experience by giving timely information?

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  • Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time

    Time is the most precious gift in life. If you think about it, time is the one thing we all want more of. As we get older and busier, time gets even more valuable to us. Good customer experience professionals understand this about human nature. So we strive to give back time to our customers along the customer journeys we build. In fact, saving time is one of the most effective ways to improve customer experience.

    How Can You Give Back Time to Your Customers?

    Actually, it is quite simple. Start by giving customers information. Information is power. Often, we think that unless we make something faster, we are not giving back time.

    A faster process or transaction is an effective way to give back time to the customer. Another way is to empower the customer by giving him/her the necessary information to make a choice to repurpose their time.

    We see the impact of wait time on the customer experience when we look at public transportation. The New York City subway system recently installed clocks and changed the commuting experience of New Yorkers (a little too late if you ask me).

    Display Wait Times

    Now, if you are at a station rushing to get somewhere (as most New Yorkers are) you can make an informed decision to wait for the train or to grab a cab. Rather than waiting for the train without being in control of your journey, you have time to DECIDE what to do with it.

    To further personalize and gain control over your journey, use GPS-empowered apps like BusChecker that show where a bus actually is and how long it will take to arrive at your stop.

    Informing people of expected wait times is not the only way to give back time. A commuter who can purchase his/her ticket by phone is given a gift like no other. I recently traveled to Milan, Italy. At Malpensa airport, the customer journey abruptly. And it gets worse once he/she gets to the train station at arrivals.

    There is a palpable disruption of the flow when you see a huge line, and masses of people hovering over a cluster of ~4 kiosks to buy tickets for the train. On top of that, the kiosks do not accept American credit cards. So, suddenly I was about to miss the only train that worked for me that morning. The meaningful gift of time happened when I saw the option to buy tickets online. That booking channel made the difference between catching the train and waiting over an hour for the next one. I was gifted that time to use for something much better than sitting in a crowd.

    Both Metro-North and LIRR in New York now have apps where customers can buy their tickets. That is what I call a game changer for the customer and for CX in general. Call it self-service, convenience, or enablement for efficiency – it creates time. Time that we are empowered to reallocate to whatever suits our needs best.

    Remove Time Thieves

    In his book The Effortless Experience, the author walks us through the value of low-effort service.  One of his four principles is the delivery of a “simple, intuitive, and guided self-service experience that makes it unnecessary to call the company if a customer does not want to…”. Why do you think some people do not want to call? Because they do not want to wait! One of the common time thieves is call wait times and transfers. We all complain about that. Yet very few organizations have solved the challenge.

    Some use a decision tree to guide customers through the process of choosing whether to call. Others implement chatbots to give back some time. Waiting on the phone to reach a contact center professional so and start a grievance process is one of the most frustrating experiences. This is the time when the emotional state of the customer is similar to a child. They want to  be heard.  And in that peak moment of emotional charge, the brands decide that playing elevator music will calm the caller. That, for sure, never works.

    As a Customer Experience Director at an airline, my mission is to eliminate wait time anywhere at the airport. The end goal of most customer-facing projects on the ground is to eliminate queues and give our customers the freedom to co-create their personal journey with us. Both the check-in lobby redesign and the facial recognition boarding programs have the gift of time in their foundation. From this perspective, it is a win-win to approach customer experience design.

    When we reduce or eliminate wait time, a brand can service more customers in the same amount of time. That makes it not only one of the ways to improve customer experience, but a smart way to create efficiencies that help the bottom line. The customer, on the other hand, can reallocate that extra time to his/her best needs during the journey.

    Wouldn’t that be nice? To be given the freedom to personalize your experience? Who does not want that?

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    How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty

    A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).

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    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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    1 THOUGHT ON "Customer Experience, Self Service, and the Gift of Time"

    1. Are You Thinking Strategically? - THE PETROVA EXPERIENCE 08/10/2020 at 11:18 am

      […] signage companies, and the list goes on. And remember, if you are an airport, and you have not introduced self-service, start […]

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