by Mark S. Blanke
Everyone has a story about a horrible experience with a product or service. Although we may have great experiences too, today I was reminded why a poor experience is often more memorable. Studies show that customers remember a bad experience more vividly than a good one. So it infuriates me that organizations attempting to provide a “high-quality customer experience” either don’t understand the fundamentals or seem to be “just going through the motions” (pretending to care, or worse, not caring at all). Many end up making a big mistake in Experience Management.
Think about how you feel when you are having a conversation with someone and you realize they aren’t really listening to you. You are in the middle of a story and excited to tell it, and the other person responds with something totally irrelevant. You now understand they are not paying attention at all. Having it happen once is frustrating, and if it happens repeatedly, you probably stop talking with that person.
This is the case all too often with customer support. Take the case I ran into recently.
I carefully vetted a new service provider for my company and after careful consideration, I decided to switch vendors. This new service provider is very proud of their customer support. Marketing messaging everywhere that “We are available 24/7”, and “If you need anything, just open a ticket” and “It’s so easy to contact us!” on and on. This was comforting to me, as I was moving important company assets into their hands.
Great – Let’s Get Support
Not a day into this new relationship, I have an issue. Great! I get to try out this company’s awesome support. Then I go through the arduous task of finding that “magic button” that will connect me to someone in support. Where is it? I search all over the website – you have got to be kidding me – I can’t find it. I check the normal spots, the upper right corner, the small print at the bottom of the page and so on. Finally, I discover it and kick myself – it’s a sly little button on the right side of my screen that pops out when you hover over it. Okay – maybe that one is on me. However, the only way I can engage with them is through a chatbot which insists that I answer a series of basic questions before I am even allowed to ask to talk to a representative.
So, I start waiting. And waiting…. Five minutes later, I finally get a welcome message from an actual human. I wish this was the end of my aggravation, but it wasn’t. It went downhill from there.
I won’t bore you with all the service issues, but I’ll summarize a few things:
- I report my issue and after a few minutes of the person checking on the situation, they acknowledge there is something that warrants a ticket and gives me a ticket number. That’s all they can do for me now and the chat ends.
- I expect some sort of quick resolution, but after most of the day goes by, my issue has not been resolved and I want to know the status.
- Nowhere is there an option to check on an open ticket, so I engage with the chatbot AGAIN, go through the process of getting to a real person AGAIN and chat with them.
- They give me an update that the ticket had been reported to another group and they are “working on it” and provide me no estimate on when it will be fixed.
- I’m now on DAY FIVE of checking with someone through chat on the status, and they basically tell me they are “working on it.”
Service and support? What service and support? I want to tell someone that I have major issues with their “modern customer support” here and am questioning my decision to switch service providers.
It Gets Better, Right?
Companies need to use an omnichannel support strategy (email, phone, chat, online portal) and give their customers choices as to how they get support. One, this obtaining support only through chatbot is challenging and frustrating not only for me, but to a lot of customers out there. Two, not having the ability to check the status of my reported issue after it is clear the issue has not been resolved and getting no notifications makes you feel hopeless and that they do not care. For me, there was no demonstrated urgency to fix my issue, and I felt various levels of anxiety and anger. This is not the experience customer support anyone should be delivering.
Customer Support should:
- Provide reassurance that you have listened and are truly empathetic
- Give customers a reason to feel confident in your abilities to address problems, and finally
- Please tell customers when they expect to have their issue resolved.
Seems simple, right? But I haven’t even gotten to one of the biggest mistakes in Experience Management that most everyone makes. But back to my story….
On day five, I once again engaged in a chat session and asked for status of my ticket. They told me they are “working on it” and “you will get a response from our team.”
I asked when this might finally be resolved, I was told they “will try to get a response today.”
I have contacted them no less than six times and I was asked this same question at the end of every single chat session. I find this question infuriating. Why?
They asked me to rate my evaluation of a chat conversation. Their goal is to evaluate the person who engaged me not to improve my experience but to collect information on that agent for the purposes of workforce management. I had no issue with any of the six people I discussed my issue with. The fact that they were all pleasant, asked me the right questions, and put it on someone else to resolve, did not warrant me to rate them poorly. They were not the problem.
So…. I refuse to answer the question. I refuse to engage.
What did this support organization accomplish? They accomplished losing a customer in less than a week! Thank goodness I had a termination clause, but I had to start all over to find another replacement. If they think they have valuable statistics to help them improve support, they are sadly mistaken.
This company lost my business for a multitude of reasons, but the reason I made the decision was the poor experience and negative feelings I had when I engaged with them. If you are a service provider, you should not make your end user feel dread every time they have a need to communicate with you.
What should the support organization have done (besides have better support and follow better Service Desk and Incident Management best practices)? They should have asked a different question.
“How did your most recent interaction with support make you feel?”
I would have answered that. If you have a smart system, you could ask follow-up questions, such as “Sorry your experience is less than satisfactory, would you mind answering some additional questions?” and then ask me some basic questions on the various aspects of support.
- Was your issue resolved completely?
- Was your issue resolved in the time promised?
- How do you feel about the choices you had in communicating your issue to us?
Ask the Right Questions
So how do you avoid making a big mistake in experience management? I cannot stress the importance of asking the right questions the right way, and then properly evaluating the feedback to make sure you solve not only the right problem but all the possibly interrelated problems. Support organizations, no matter how hard they try, even by asking friendly customer satisfaction surveys at the end of a support conversation, cannot get out of their own way it seems.
Stop asking about ONE interaction or ONE support person. Ask your users/customers what they feel overall. Most questions are focused on an operational statistic to measure a service level metric, manage personnel, or figure out resource issues and not measuring and improving what’s important to the customer’s experience from their point of view.
It is important to note: Service Management and Experience Management are two very different things. While I had a poor customer support experience and it should have been handled differently, the company should monitor the support and experience of their users to determine if they have a wider, systemic problem with, in this case, support. Experience Management would not address my individual issue. That should have been resolved as an individual service management issue.
Why Experience Management
Experience Management captures the sentiment across all users and customers and addresses the overall experience for everyone. If there is a trend and it is felt by multiple people, then the poor experience will be measured, reported, and addressed to truly improve the service provider’s services.
Experience Management has been a hot topic for us at OwlPoint for years. For the last two years we have worked with XLACollab to develop the Experience Management Framework and develop best practices around the development of XLAs (Experience Level Agreements) and XMOs (Experience Management Office).
The main fundamental of Experience Management is to understand the user’s overall sentiment or feeling, allowing it to measure and manage the experience, and continuously make improvements where necessary.
- When you ask your customers or employees or partners for feedback, are you asking the right questions the right way?
- Are you doing something meaningful with the feedback you get from customers – quickly and in ways that they see and feel?
- Do you know how your customers really feel about your products and services?
- Is customer retention an issue?
- Are subscribers renewing or cancelling?
- Do you see your share of the market slipping?
- What is your company’s rating on Google and Glassdoor?
- Is employee turnover an issue? Happy employees make happy customers.
If you are interested in improving your organization’s ability to measure and manage user experience and avoid making big mistakes in experience management, contact us or setup a time to talk to one of our Experience Management experts. We might have the right answers that you need.