Gaps in the customer journey and getting experience right
Around this time last year I found a good mobile phone offer on Amazon but was a little worried about delivery timelines, as they were longer than usual at the time. I thought of checking it on another not-so-popular (in terms of their online presence) retail store chain website. To my surprise, they had a better deal than Amazon for the same model, and very competitive delivery charges.
The cost and delivery time made me ditch Amazon and I placed my order, marking it as a gift. Up until this point, it had been a good experience. The item was delivered on the day it was promised, but to my shock, the delivery person asked me to open the gift wrapper and unbox the package to ensure the correct item had been delivered. Upon questioning, he explained that fraud was taking place that led to customer dissatisfaction and increased cost of returns for the company. To add to my displeasure, part of the gift message was missing.
The “so far so good” feeling suddenly turned into an average experience. In the last mile of my buying journey, I started experiencing friction. I tried thinking rationally about the entire experience, but:
- Gifting was a family idea, and one of my children’s names was left off the message
- The message was printed on half an A4 sheet of paper
- The gift wrapper was very-thin, low quality paper
- We had to buy a new gift wrapper and include my kid’s name in the message
The euphoria of the gifting moment went down
What could have been an opportunity to create a superior customer experience suddenly turned average. What went wrong, despite the retail store having decent web property, good pricing and delivery service?
In my opinion, they failed to notice small things that make an emotional difference, which leads to friction and customer dissatisfaction. We are now so used to the Amazon experience that we implicitly start expecting a certain level of service. All other brands need to step up their service levels.
Below is my analysis and what I learned.
- Search experience: Even though the web application had basic search functionality, it served its purpose because I was looking for a very specific item. However, in the context of product discovery, it may not be as effective. Consider context when creating experiences.
- Pricing and promotions: They had a better price point to lock the customer in. Capitalize on your strengths to seize the opportunity to win the customer.
- Inefficient processes: Asking a customer to open the package to avoid delivery fraud is not the right approach. Don’t try to solve process issues at the customer’s expense. How effective would this have been if I wasn’t home at the time of delivery? Being honest with the customer is commendable, but a better approach would be to design a holistic solution that involves customers so they don’t feel penalized
- Seize the moment: If you must ask the customer to open the gift wrap, another gift wrapper should have been provided at delivery. They missed the opportunity to create a magic moment. It would not have cost much, but that small gesture would have surprised and delighted. Be helpful and seize those magic moments
- Operational & growth excellence: Printing the gift message on such a small sheet appeared to be a cost reduction measure. There may have been be two reasons for the message being truncated: either a manual copy-paste error, or automation trying to fit characters in a certain size. There is nothing wrong with optimizing the cost, but customer dissatisfaction is a large price to pay. Companies must strive to balance operational efficiency and customer experience.
- Customer obsession: When I complained about the incident, the customer service representatives contacted me promptly. Listening is half the job, but I have no idea how serious the company is about making changes to its way of working. Even if they do implement it, how would I know that they took my issue seriously? Show that you care and value customer feedback.
- Customer trust: It is not easy asking customers to trust you. I have written a blog on customer trust, in which I outline just how Herculean this task is, so every interaction must be valued.
- Experience funnel: Brands mainly focus and invest in the top funnel but do not maintain the same standards down the funnel, which leading to a decline in experience. It’s vitally important to create a consistent experience at every step of the journey.
Experience is more than the product itself. While I illustrated just one journey, imagine how complex it could get with intersecting journeys. Power them up by redesigning internal and external (customer-facing) processes. Start leveraging journey analytics, feedback and insights, customer churn and other CX metrics and go the extra mile to increase customer lifetime value.