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Archive for the ‘Experiences’ Category

Use customer data for efficacy (‘experience’ not required)

Data will be the biggest driver for retailers in 2019, as stores become more astute at knowing who their consumers really are. The Future Forecast 2019 Report goes on to talk about how smart retailers who use data to provide thought-provoking cultural experiences will prosper in this future. We can see that the evolution of experience retailing is becoming more pervasive all the time with the introduction to stores of smart mirrors, skin scans, recommendation engines and geofenced VIP access. All exciting uses of data that lead to (potentially) improved experiences for customers. This information that we share, whether consciously or not, allows businesses greater insights into our preferences. It (potentially) lifts the bar! Which means that, every time an experience is improved, it becomes the new ‘bar’ by which we measure the next one. When the experience doesn’t match the expectations, we are, as customers, left feeling flat. I have spent the last couple of weekends in pursuit of laptop and microwave replacements (they both broke down in the same week). Two replacement purchases, so I was just looking to continue as I had always. In both experiences, I walked away from the incredibly helpful salesperson feeling buoyed and looked after, but the interactions after that left me with a blah kind of disappointment. In one case, the third party repair/replace service was nothing like what the salesperson in-store explained, and in the other case - I had to wait in another in a queue to pay for my purchase whilst four (yes FOUR) people behind the counter did ‘non-serving customer’ activities. In a ‘helpful use of my data’ moment, the store had my details from the last purchase. It was not, helpful to have to step through multiple ‘steps’ to complete the purchase. Standing in a queue to put my credit card on the payment device is rather tedious! And it gave me time to count the number of people behind the counter not serving customers. Whilst the cashier-less experience has arrived in Amazon stores, we have not yet refined the completion of the sales transaction into one easy interaction at the local Good Guys. If it was possible to pay in the moment and go and pick up my microwave, I would have left the store with that (still) fresh feeling of ‘helpful service’. The basics of dealing with the person in front of you first and foremost are stopping store experiences from being productive and pleasant. A replacement purchase like a microwave doesn’t really need to be an ‘experience’; there’s a bit of product comparison but no real need to entertain me. I don’t need coffee, donuts, styling advice or a free set of steak knives. A helpful salesperson and an efficient way to pay and get out of there would be most helpful to me!

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Customer service done well is a lot of little things

Anyone else NOT want to call customer service? It’s a battle that goes on inside me… I cannot solve the problem by myself, but I know that if I do call I’m going to have to go through a series of selecting numbers from a menu and then be put on hold multiple times whilst they transfer me around the organisation in search of that special person who can solve the problem. I have had so many awful experiences with one service provider (not mentioning any names Telstra) that I now go to the re-seller and get them to do it, rather than having to go direct. It’s a buffer, the ‘one step removed’ position allows me to commiserate with the person in JB Hi-Fi whilst I shop for headphones, movies or music. I find it more tolerable. When I got locked out of my bank account on Saturday morning it meant I would have to call customer service. There are too many stories of fraudulent experiences online for me to put this one off. I did all my number selecting only to get to the recorded voice that told me there was ‘unexpectedly high number of calls,’ thankfully, rather than making me wait (and build the frustration level) there was a callback option. I took it. About 10 mins later I got the callback. I waited for the customer service person to arrive on the line. Alexis (no idea if that’s her real name) introduced herself and I had to STOP myself from commenting on the fact that: (a) the line was A.MAZING; it was like I was talking to someone over a phone line in Australia, and (b) I had no trouble understanding her (i.e. lack of obsequious formalities) as she spoke in plain English (no jargon). She understood the problem and said she would unlock the account. Did I remember my code? Yes, I did and I didn’t understand how I came to be locked out. She explained that if someone else with a similar member code had inadvertently used my code they could unintentionally lock me out of my account. She waited on the line whilst I checked my account login and confirmed that all was OK and then wished me a good day. The whole thing took less than 4 minutes! I was, I admit, in a bit of shock! Where was the usual frustration that I had steeled myself for? That was easy, pleasant and explained why I had experienced the problem to start with. WOAH!! So, what did they do well? I think it helps that my expectations are incredibly low. For this, you can say thank you to Australian banks, government agencies, telcos and insurance providers who, over the years, have conditioned me to expect nothing less than the horrific waste of my time trying to navigate their internal workings to get what I need. Reflecting on the experience, I can see these things that made the whole thing smooth and painless from the customer perspective: They didn’t make me wait online (frustration builds while people wait for you to attend to them) and they gave me a call when it was my turn. That way I could get on with watching my kid’s hockey game until they were ready. The communication fundamentals worked, a clear phone line (not VOIP offshore) meant that there were no “Pardon, can you repeat that?” moments. Reducing the friction of communication is essential both inside and outside organisations. She spoke like one human to another - no jargon, no ma’ams, just the essentials to sort out the issue. it was an easy conversation with a grown up! She checked that I could now log into my account and was happy to wait the additional 45 seconds on the line whilst I confirmed that the problem was solved. There’s a lot of back-office work that goes into making frictionless customer service work, we've talked about it a lot, and it's not easy but I think from this experience we can all agree that the basics are achievable. The same things done well here can also apply to all business interactions (maybe even project meetings!).

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Project Close | Overcoming the fear of finishing

Whilst on a practice hike preparing for a trip to the Kokoda track earlier this year; I overheard one of the teens on the hike, who had done that particular track before, relate that the last kilometre of our day would be the longest, there was a collective sigh of agreement. So too, it can be with the close of a project, it can feel like the longest part of the journey. There is plenty of good advice on how to face the fear of finishing and close your personal projects... but, what’s the best way to close out a project for a client, leaving it in a good state? Improving my own focus in this area has been the 'sub project' (read personal goal) of the last month or so. (Read more)

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How to be truly focused and present… lessons from the wild

Before opening email or responding to texts and other messages I am enjoying the internal peace that comes from having just focused for the last 10 days on whatever was the ‘next thing.’ As I woke up this morning in my comfortable bed, with my comfortable husband after many nights of less comfortable sleeping conditions, I could feel my mind starting to move back towards the list making mode that is so much of my daily life, and I marvel at the contrast of the Kokoda experience. There have been no lists. I have had no contact with the outside world, just the people I was walking with and the news of the track. (Read more)

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Customer experience comes back to retail basics (the personal touch)

Customer experience doesn’t have to be high tech to be good. As we navigate all the different ways of interacting, remembering the retail basics of personal touch, makes all the difference, not just in terms of experience but also in terms of sales. Research indicates that 95% of customers (Zendesk) share bad experiences with others, and 65% are frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels (Accenture). Customer focused retailers are working hard to improve these statistics by combining online booking systems with in store experiences. (Read more)

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Click & Collect transaction or interaction?

Target have a click & collect function on their web store and I find myself sometimes losing purpose when I go to their retail environment, so I decided to give it a go. The kids needed undies and I had seen a basket that it would be easier to just go and pick up rather than drag around the store. I finish my purchase online and as the delivery and payment options are coming up the pop up box on their web store tells me it will be up to 10 days before it’s ready for me to collect. (Read more)

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