What I Hate About the Customer Experience

Top five things I hate about doing business with companies that don’t focus on behavior-based branding:

  1. Encountering a robot: the employee with a blank face, no emotion. I want to say, “I’m human, I think you are. Let’s act like it… smile and say hello!”
  1. Suffering from “invisible customer” syndrome. While I’m sure that whomever you’re talking to on the phone is important, I just walked into the store and I’m the only customer around so please acknowledge my existence and validate that I’m just dreaming your service couldn’t be this bad.
  1. Getting the “I could help you, but what’s in it for me?” reaction. Which employee do you think is more likely to go above and beyond to help out a customer… the employee who receives instruction on best practices and behaviors for interacting with customers and when his actions are noticed by a manager, receives a pat on the back or some other form of recognition (whether incentive-based or not) or the employee who is left on his own to decide how to respond to customers and only hears from his manager when he screws up? Employees who do not feel the benefit of good customer service are less likely to make an effort when a situation arises. Employees who understand and feel the benefit (through positive reinforcement, rewards systems, etc.) are more likely to go out of their way to help customers, which ultimately leads to a better experience and greater customer loyalty.
  1. The millions of missed opportunities. This one ties into number three above. I cannot tell you how many times a frontline worker or even a manager misses an opportunity to earn a customer for life. Every time a manager says, “there’s nothing I can do for you,” it lessens the chance that the customer will come back again. Rather than conceding to negativity, frontline workers and managers should be equipped with positive responses, such as “I hope there is some way we can help you out today, Ms. Smith. If we don’t have product A, perhaps you would like product B?” Anything is better than a “no” or a negative reaction.
  1. The “Jekyll and Hyde” Experience. Or the “never know what you’re going to get” store. One day employees are helpful, eager to assist and drive a pleasant experience. The next they are distant, sometimes impossible to find, or even outright rude. The inconsistency in experience is aggravating and unsettling. Especially in times like these, the experience makes all the difference when customers decide if they want to shop at your store or the megamart down the street. Most people would rather shop somewhere where they know what to expect (whether it’s a positive or negative experience) over an ever-changing experience. Consistency is king!

Companies that set expectations for basic frontline customer service behaviors, communicate about them, and hold their employees accountable for living the desired behaviors every day and in every interaction will have a strong, more productive employee base as well as a more satisfied, loyal set of customers who keep coming back and are eager to refer the company to their friends and family.

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