What Makes a Good Customer Experience?

July 23, 2015 Jiordan Castle

good customer experience

A favorite ‘90s movie of mine is Reality Bites, particularly the part where Winona Ryder’s character finds herself in the umpteenth failed job interview, frantically trying to define the word “irony” as the elevator doors are closing on her career. She yells out, “Well, I can’t really define irony… but I know it when I see it!” Fortunately for Customer Experience teams, we can do a bit better when it comes to explaining what constitutes a positive Customer Experience.

We’ve talked about the 10 things expected from customer service before. Here we’ll look at what it takes to make the leap from a baseline Customer Experience to a great one.

Which do customers want first: the good news or the bad news?

It turns out that the order makes a big difference when it comes to delivering news to customers. In fact, researchers at UC Riverside published a study in 2013 in which they experimented with the order and gauged their subjects’ reactions. The results were somewhat surprising: the people who were given the bad news first were more likely to feel better about what they were told overall, and the people who were given the bad news last were typically more motivated to act on the news.

In Customer Experience, the goal is happier customers. But in certain instances, action on the customers’ part is necessary. Keeping that in mind, customer service reps need to break from a single script and lead with whichever news will produce the desired result.

Give customer service reps the authority and tools they need to be effective the first time around

In a survey by Dimensional Research, 69 percent of interviewees defined good customer service as receiving a quick resolution to a reported problem. But in direct conflict with the need for speed were redundancies in customer service. Seventy-two percent of those interviewed blamed their frustrations on having to interact with multiple employees about the same problem at different times.

Forbes pins these percentages on a traditional customer service issue: customer service reps typically lack both the authority and the ability to resolve problems on their own, and are often forced to take customers’ problems to higher levels. Truthfully, these redundancies add up: 26 percent of consumers have experienced being transferred from agent to agent without any resolution — a surefire way to alienate customers.

The solution is surprisingly simple: make sure that the employees who work most closely with your customers have the authorization and training to provide solutions when issues arise.

Exercise empathy for your customers

Truly great Customer Experience goes beyond making customers happy. While it’s true that happiness is an important goal, there’s a better way to retain loyal customers and drive business: empathize with your customers. Providing a great Customer Experience means helping customers spend less effort and get better results by listening and promptly responding to concerns and feedback.

Providing and supporting your customers’ preferred contact channel, responding via the same channel, setting expectations, not having to constantly transfer customers, being able to help customers with an issue through a self-service channel, making all forms of communication easy to understand — these are simple ways of taking your existing Customer Experience from baseline to exceptional.

Customers can’t always describe their ideal Customer Experience, but they know it when they have it. Learn more about perfecting your organization’s customer service from our ebook, Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.

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