I broke up with my favorite retailer and I still haven’t gotten over it. To say the least, I had a bad customer experience. The pain of the split came from the realization that I cared about them more than they cared about me.
They’d called me an “elite” customer. I was. For years I passed by other stores, sales and websites to swipe my card with them. I was loyal, but more than just behaviorally loyal. I was a proud shopper, honored to be a part of the 150 year-old brand and icon. (See our earlier post on Identity Overlap.)
Sure, they’d annoyed me in the past, but you look past the small things in a relationship. This was our first big quarrel. I had a question about my credit card bill and took great measures to get it resolved: three calls to the call center, a trip to the store, tweets and Facebook posts culminating in an irritating conversation with an Ohio-based representative who never even bothered to ask about my problem.
Their idea of closure was sending me a no-reply email with an address to which I could direct my complaint by post. I decided I didn’t want to work so hard to be their customer. Our relationship was over. I cut my card. I won’t return.
As an expert in branding and customer experience, I’m not totally surprised, unfortunately. It’s difficult to deliver the basics of customer care, let alone gold star service. I offer this advice to the management of this retailer and other multi-channel organizations.
Measure and monitor customer experience at all key touch points. If you’re a multi-channel business, don’t let poor experiences in one channel derail your customers’ love and loyalty. Customers are omni-customers.
Measure the right things. Let customers tell you what they are. Just because you have a CEM program doesn’t mean you’re covered. Conduct a comprehensive Customer Experience Blueprinting® process to identify high-leverage satisfiers and high-risk areas and conduct financial linkage analysis to pinpoint specific micro-behaviors that will improve your performance. Don’t skip the critical step of bringing in the voice of the customer when defining strategy and shaping customer interaction design.
Get the right information to the right people at the right time. When customers have concerns and problems, systems and protocols should elevate beyond the frontline up through the ranks. When executives and more senior managers are involved in closing the loop with customers, they become aware of pain points and negatives that can only be addressed at more operational and strategic levels.
On a recent trip to NY, I passed by my old chain’s flagship store. Memories flooded me, yet I resisted the urge to enter or to even peek at the holiday display. I recognized that, like all relationships, it’s important that both parties feel valued. In the meantime, I have discovered new retailers and I think I’ll be just fine.