Published in Retail

All Your Customers Want for the New Year is a Good Customer Experience

The winter holiday season is such a great time to be with family and friends. It’s a time when we think about others and give gifts to the people we love. Everyone’s mind is on making the holiday experience perfect. As such, customers and companies alike are extra sensitive to their customer experience (CX). I’d like to share a few examples of making sure those holiday experiences go smoothly and principles you can take away from them.

My Trial Membership with Amazon

Nowadays, Amazon and shopping are synonymous. They sell everything and if you have a Prime membership, you’ll have your order delivered on time and hassle free. I’m probably one of the few people in the U.S. that doesn’t have an Amazon Prime membership. Naturally, I was the target of one of their email campaigns this year recruiting people to sign up. I was given a free month trial. The email was especially timely considering my wife and I decided to get all our Christmas shopping done a month early. With a Prime membership, I would get the coveted 2-day free shipping on every order. I took them up on the offer, finished Christmas shopping within a week or two, and promptly forgot about my membership.

When December rolled around, my trial membership ended and I was charged the yearly member fee of $99. Knowing I wasn’t going to use Amazon in the near (or possibly distant) future, I decided to get a refund. I found out that if you haven’t ordered anything with your membership since renewal, you are eligible for a complete refund. Forums I’d read said the best way to do this is over chat. When I got in touch with the customer support representative and asked for a refund, I got it. No questions asked.

Be Sensitive to Emotionally Charged Touchpoints

Why was this a good experience? For one, I got my money back. Beyond that, I believe Amazon realized membership refunds are an emotionally charged touchpoint. In order to make the experience a great one, they decided to just give their customers a refund without asking questions. Could they have done a transactional or relationship survey after giving a full refund? Sure. They could probably get some good data finding out why people don’t want to be a Prime member. But what if a customer doesn’t react well to getting a survey after such an interaction? Customers that have a negative experience, often tell others about it and that impacts not only brand reputation, but also the bottom line. Amazon knows above all, it’s best to correct the situation quickly and make the customer experiences go as smoothly as possible—even if that means losing out on some data gathering.

I know many people that wouldn’t live without their Amazon Prime memberships and every experience I hear about is top-notch—as my experience was. Customer experience must have been on Amazon’s new year’s resolution list last year (In fact, in 2016, Amazon was rated #1 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index with a score of 86/100), and they definitely continue to find ways that keep their customer’s happy.

Website Theme Customer Service Disaster

The next experience is in stark contrast to the one I had with Amazon. Recently, I was asked by a family member to design a website for their farm. Everything should have been smooth sailing, I would install the website theme and begin adding their content. However, there were issues with the website theme coding and it wouldn’t install properly. This set off a long conversation with the website theme customer service reps and my hosting company, which lasted over two months.

Although the customer support reps were using a ticket system to track my chats with them, I frequently had to re-explain the entire situation and solutions that had been tried without success. Eventually, I made it to the Manager of Customer Success. By this time, 3 weeks had gone by. I was tired and more than ready to have the issue remedied. I was told by the manager they were, “Prepared to do anything necessary to make the experience a good one”. So I asked for a full refund for my defunct website theme but was told that since the deadline for a refund had passed, I was no longer eligible and that the best they could do was give me another theme.

When I identified a cheaper but acceptable theme, and asked for them to refund the difference and for it to be installed, they wouldn’t. Every time I brought it up, my request was ignored. The hosting company and website theme customer reps thought it was the other’s fault. I was left in the middle wondering why I had to mediate between the two. In the end, the theme was installed and I received a brief apology from the website theme folks for how much of a hassle everything had been. You can bet your bottom dollar I won’t be using their services in the future.

In complete contrast to my experience with Amazon.  Amazon was customer-centric and every conversation felt that way. This experience was all about blaming someone else.

You Shouldn’t be Satisfied Until Your Customers Are Satisfied

Keep your customers’ experience, feelings, and needs in mind in every way you have contact with them. No one should have to wait nearly two months for a customer support ticket to be resolved! Should something like this occur, an appropriate solution would be to offer something extra to smooth over the rocky experience. If the website theme company had refunded the money in full (or even partially) and said, “Sorry, you’ve had such a bad experience, your next website theme is on us.” They would have possibly had a customer well into the future.

Keeping customers is a lot cheaper than finding new ones. All your customers want is a great customer experience. Do everything you can going into the new year to make every customer interaction as good as it can be. You may have to admit you were wrong, you may even lose out on some valuable data gathering opportunities, and you may have to do something extra for a customer, even though you know you’re right. In the end though, the people that choose to do business with you should have a good experience every time they interact with you, your people, your websites, your online presence.  So, if you haven’t already, make sure that becoming even more customer-centric is on your new year’s resolution list.