Customer experience: The good, the bad and the ugly

The gap between marketing and customer service is too often a chasm.

by John Sills
Last Updated: 21 Jun 2018

If you’ve been within earshot of me in the last few months, you’ll know that I’ve been moving to a new house. And you’ll probably also know that it’s been an endless stream of pretty awful customer experiences.

However, it did act as a good reminder of the importance of a good customer experience if a company wants to be commercially successful – particularly if the customer is trying to join you.

Never mind solicitors, removal vans, or mortgages. As we all know, the most important thing to get sorted quickly when you move to a new house is the broadband. None of the options were that appealing, but my mobile provider, EE, looked like a good bet. Until this:

I know I’m not the easiest of customers, but you’d think a company would be doing all they can to help me join them, especially when I’ll be signing up for a contract worth over £1000. It’s a poor customer experience, but more than that, it immediately cost them a customer, both now and in the future.

A similar thing occurred – albeit without the snarky signoff – when I thought I’d use the house moving opportunity to look around at the various energy companies. Each one I spoke to answered the phone quickly, seemed keen to tell me about what they could offer, and made a compelling case to join them.

None of them asked for my contact details to get in touch nearer the time of my move and help with the switching process.

This is a great example of where sales and service collide. ‘Sales’ still seems to be a dirty word, not helped by ‘scandals’ like PPI. But in most cases, good sales come from good service and vice versa. In this instance, good service would have been offering to take one thing off my mind and remind me to switch when the time was right. And again, it would have been very commercially valuable to the company.

Even more impressive in the we-don’t-want-your-business stakes was an experience with BT last week. Having decided to stay with them due to a lack of better options, they sent me quite an attractive sales email, promising higher speeds for only a little bit more money each month. So of course, I called. And of course, they were happy to help, taking my details and promising someone would be in touch the next day to get things moving.

Then nothing happened. Nothing at all. No call, no email, no change in service. So now nothing will happen. My broadband is good enough, and my initial excitement of being sent the offer has gone. So that’s another few hundred pounds BT have missed out on which could have gone towards three minutes of Premier League football.

The big exception to this was Direct Line. Back in January, I switched my Car Insurance to them, through a mix of good recommendations and good price. The process was incredibly easy. A phone call with a helpful human, simple-to-answer questions, all promises kept, and everything right first time.

So it was no wonder that when it came to choosing my new home insurance supplier for the new house, they were first on my list. And again, the process was quick, simple, and as promised. Not only that, but the person on the phone reminded me that I’d need to change the address on my Car Insurance and gave me the instructions for how to do it within a few clicks online. Even the satisfaction survey afterwards was simple, and you know my feelings on those.

There’s plenty that’s been written about the ‘ROI of Customer Experience’, but this is based on a good experience meaning that customers will stay with you and buy more from you, rather than joining in the first place. And there’s plenty of time and effort spent on mapping the ‘onboarding process’ in organisation, once the customer has agreed to join.

But the experiences I had seem to show that there’s a crucial gap that exists between marketing and customer experience, the promise and the delivery. And it’s a gap that could be costing companies more than the price of the posters in the first place.

Main image: tongcom photography/Shutterstock

Body images: the author

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