It is happening right now. As you read this blog, customers are experiencing companies. If you’re reading this in a coffee shop, you are experiencing a service. If you’re reading this on your phone, you are experiencing a product. These experiences are either strengthening or weakening the bond between you (the customer) and the companies that are competing for your attention (or more likely money).
So why does this matter? Consider the experience of consumer Xavier Klingenfus. If you haven’t got time to read about Xavier’s experience, here’s a summary:
1. Xavier booked a flight to Thailand with Expedia
2. At the confirmation page, Expedia informed him that they were unable to make the reservation
3. When Xavier visited his online banking, to his horror, he found he had been charged for the flight
4. Xavier contacted Expedia and was ‘reassured’ that his money was lost in the ether between his bank and Expedia. As long as Expedia didn’t claim the money, the transaction would cancel after a few days
5. I won’t go into Xavier’s bank call centre trauma in detail, but it basically involved; waiting, redirection, waiting, redirection, more waiting, music, failed redirection attempts, a dead line, redirection to the wrong number and a lot of swearing
6. Xavier then dialled a new number that he was given, spoke to a human being, and received his refund three days later
How would this experience make you feel? I know I would have given up at stage 4 and kept my fingers crossed that I would see a credit in my account a few days later. Xavier explains that he has a fear that this would happen again if he ever booked with Expedia. Xavier is not as conservative with his words when describing his bank……”it felt like no-one on the phone knew what they were talking about”……….”the incompetence of a few ones completely discredited the seriousness of the bank”
So Xavier decided one day that he wanted to buy a flight to Thailand, for whatever reason, he decided to do this with Expedia. Will he buy his next flight with Expedia? Probably not. What about the flight after that? Maybe, maybe not. The value (in hard cash) that Expedia could lose from Xavier over his customer lifespan could be huge. Multiply this value through by many similar customer experiences and I think you understand where I’m going with this. Losing many Xavier’s is very bad for Expedia and very good for their competitors.
The most powerful message that Xavier put across is that he feared that this could happen again with Expedia. This implies that there was a certain level of trust before his experience, and now there is less trust than before. Trust should not only be measured; but should also be developed by ensuring that Customer Experience is considered throughout the entire organisation. You can read more about our view on Customer Experience and how we could help your organisation here.
So could Expedia have done anything differently? It sounds like they provided a much better experience than Xavier’s bank. It all depends how they landed the message that Xavier’s money had left his account but hadn’t been received by them, because that’s a difficult message for any consumer to take. They should definitely have reassured Xavier that if they didn’t claim the money, the pending transaction would cancel and the money would be returned to his account. They didn’t, and that made Xavier frantically call his bank to find out what on earth had happened. There is also a question as to what processes Expedia have in place once the customer has been informed that they were unable to make the reservation. This is important because Xavier didn’t know what had gone wrong.
So why does this matter? Consider your recent customer experiences. Did they strengthen or weaken the bond you have with that brand? I know this author likes to make a stand against brands that treat him badly. I remember bad customer experiences for a very long time, and when I am treated very well I see this as the norm, not as the exception.
I also know that I will walk around London to have my coffee fix (Prêt if you’re interested) and that I have been with the same bank and mobile provider for longer than I can remember. So how loyal are you? It’s likely that many of the brands that you remain loyal to have never treated you badly.
We believe that brands need to be clear about what is important to you as a customer, who you really are and understand what you value. Have a think about the brands you choose to interact with every day – how close are they to understanding these three key questions?
We would love to hear about any bad experiences you have had with brands and how you have reacted.