A few weeks ago, I spent almost two hours waiting in line to pick up a rental car at Boston Logan. Two hours is a long time to wait for your turn at the counter. Unfortunately this was a repeat of my experience nine months earlier when I stood in that same line. When I expressed frustration, the staff deflected and the on-site supervisor dismissed my questions and frustrations with, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Needless to say, I was thrilled to receive a survey invite inquiring about my experience. I became even more excited when I received a follow up email from the operations manager in my inbox. The email acknowledged my frustration, offered an apology and asked for another chance. The email did not offer me any reasons to believe that any future experience would have a different outcome than my two prior experiences. Unfortunately, when I tried to re-engage with the operations manager, I realized it was a no reply email.
Given my two experiences and a quick look at Yelp, it’s clear to me the company effectively creates demand (the best rates and an ample supply of cars) but has insufficient staffing to deliver a good experience consistently. Consequently, the employees act defeated, defensive and dismissive, and many ex-customers, angry enough with their experience, spread the word on social media. It’s an ugly loop.
The company runs a customer experience survey program, but it seems like they should try harder to implement the golden rules of CX: (1) Do not ask for feedback if you are not willing to take action on it. (2) If you do make changes, tell your customers and employees.
Nicole Hauptman, a director in LRW’s CX team, recommends the following to throttle up the impact of Customer Experience programs.
Rev up responsiveness by offering customers a way to connect beyond the survey. Don’t put the brakes on the opportunity to learn more about the nuances of customer experience that aren’t explained in 5, 10 or 11 point scales. If your customers are still willing to talk to you, it shows they aren’t quite ready to walk out on the relationship.
Accelerate the ROI of your program by instituting processes to close the loop. Companies have two ways to grow by closing the loop. Firstly, they can coach individuals and teams on how to be more effective and empowered. Secondly, they can use the feedback to identify systematic problems and to set priorities. Thirdly, change – and let your customers know you’ve changed.
Drive improved outcomes by ensuring everyone who interacts with customers is trained on the best way to apologize. At the counter and in the email, neither accepted responsibility for the bad experience nor attempted to fix the problem in any way, which research shows are the key components for making effective apologies.
Put employees in the driver’s seat by empowering and expecting them to find solutions for the customer. While no one could refund the lost hours of my vacation, the Supervisor or Operations Manager might have offered me a discount or an upgrade. The Operations Manager might have suggested that I join the loyalty program to enjoy skip-the-line privileges no matter the location.
Customer experience programs can give you a good look under the hood to identify systematic problems in operations. Setting up closed loop processes and entrusting well-trained employees will improve the mileage you get from your program. Now let’s all go try harder.