Creating a Consistent Customer Experience

I was lunching last week with new friend Carol, who helps organizations teach outstanding customer service to their teams, when she shared a story about her own customer service experience. She suggested it would make a good lesson for a blog post, so here it is.

She found a pair of shoes she really liked at a store in the mall, but they didn’t have her size in the color she wanted. No worries, the store clerks were very accommodating and said they could easily have them shipped to her home, no charge. [great customer service]

The shoes arrived as expected, but when she opened the box, she saw they’d not been wrapped properly; they were pretty much just thrown in a shipping box and sent off. There were a few scuffs on them and she was disappointed, but figured they’d end up looking like that after a few wearings anyway, so she didn’t make a fuss about it. [not so great customer service]

A company’s customer experience should be consistent throughout the process, no matter how many departments are involved.

A few days later Carol got an email from the company asking about her experience. She responded and told them about the condition of the shoes she’d received. She didn’t ask for any kind of compensation (although she really would have liked a discount or coupon for her next purchase); she just wanted them to know what had happened.

The woman responding from the company said she would send Carol a new pair immediately [great customer service] and apologized for the service she received in the store. [What? The store clerks were good.]

Carol emailed back some clarification on her fine experience in the store vs. the package that was shipped and received another email from the customer service department contact who admitted not reading Carol’s entire first email, hence the confusion. [customer service is taking an annoying turn.]

Nevertheless, she restated she would ship out a new pair of shoes right away and Carol could return the ones she had to the store.

Fortunately for Carol, she decided to wait to return the shoes she had until she received the second pair, as the replacement pair never showed up. Further attempts at communicating with the customer service person went unanswered. [very bad customer service]

What happened here appears to be a case of inconsistent training or lack of standards or both at this shoe company. From the outside, it looks like everyone is left to act on their own accord without any accountability for outcomes. If the salesperson is innately good at serving, the customer experience is a favorable. If the salesperson, or warehouse packager or customer service rep isn’t so adept at making sure his job is done well, or doesn’t have a clear explanation of what is expected, then the customer experience isn’t so nice.

There are many points of contact in Carol’s entire experience and therefore many places where things could go awry. If you’re running a business with a lot of moving parts, you’d best make sure you have clear instructions for each step and everyone knows exactly what is expected of him/her. I am transitioning over Zen Rabbit’s fulfillment to a new organization this week. I know what it’s like to have to create detailed instructions for every step of every task. It’s certainly no fun to put together. BUT, once it’s done and in place, you can be reasonably confidant everyone involved is on the same page. The customer experience will be consistently good. Spend the time and effort creating touch point templates now or pay for it later.