Every single day, businesses and organizations enable conversations between employees and customers. Companies provide an experience throughout every aspect of their operations, be it a shopper browsing and online website, or an employee taking a management course. Of course, every party involved wishes to have a positive and memorable experience. Unfortunately, there will be times where people will be left with forgettable or, even worse, bad experiences. Fortunately, these bad experiences are salvageable, as long as businesses are willing to treat them as opportunities for improvement.
The “No” Experience
“The customer is always right” is a saying that has been a part of business for as long as we can remember. Unfortunately, it is not entirely accurate. In many cases, a customer will likely complain if they perceive that a company has done something wrong. This is so even if a company can’t or shouldn’t acquiesce to their request. A company simply can’t always say “yes”.
These moments of friction are critical to the overall customer satisfaction, but they are also inevitable. What’s important to remember is that customers always deserve the benefit of the doubt and to be treated with respect. Before a customer request is turned down, a necessary level of empathy for the customer must be shown.
The Waiting Experience
Waiting is also a huge part of the customer experience. If a plane is delayed, the wait between flights is part of the experience. If a product is out of stock, a customer waiting for it to be re-stocked is also a part of the experience. The longer they are left to wait, the more anxieties can grow as they wonder and worry about what’s going on behind the scenes – even if it turns out that they have all the available information.
This is why customers need clear and concise understandings about the timing of their next update. Assume they’ll also wonder if the status of their situation has changed. As such, it is always a good idea to plan for updates, even if there are no significant new developments.
The On-Boarding Experience
New customers make businesses happy. However, they are also the most impressionable demographic. After all, first impressions are the most important. New customers are always anxious to get value from new organizations. However, a lack of context about products and processes can make new interactions with a business easily frustrating. One way a company can accommodate these new customers is to treat them the same way they treat loyal customers. Craft personas that are specifically focused on new customers to identify what they do and don’t know.
The Decision Experience
Customers have to make countless decisions before settling on a purchase. Some of these decisions are those that they are not prepared to make. In certain cases, they don’t have the requisite knowledge to understand all their choices, or just don’t want to devote a considerable amount of time thinking about it. In others, some customers may enjoy the research they do before making a decision. But in all cases, there is plenty of space for buyer’s remorse. Therefore, it is critical to think about who is making the decision, which options they’re deliberating, and with what assistance. Rather than showcasing every option at once, progressively disclose “popular” options with short, helpful descriptions or social tags.
The Transitional Experience
The ideal situation for customers and companies both is for customers to complete their goals within a single interaction. The reality is that this is rarely, if ever, the case. An individual’s interaction with a company is more often than not, out of said company’s hands. Whether they are looking at product reviews online, getting feedback and opinions from friends, or visiting retailers to observe the product, a customer is constantly interacting with companies through multiple channels. Using consistent terminology across transitions is core to making customers feel more comfortable. When someone sees a product in a store and opts to purchase it online, they shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ve found the same product online as they have seen in the store.