Archive | August, 2008

Top customer experience blogs we’ve been reading lately

27 Aug

top customer experience blogs

Let us introduce you to some of the top customer experience blogs we’ve been reading lately.

We’ve found some inspiring stuff here in the past couple of months so we thought it was only fair to share with you. Here’s what we’ve been enjoying in no particular order:

 

Work. Play. Experience.
What theatre, film and stand-up comedy can teach us about Impressing Customers
http://workplayexperience.blogspot.com/

 

Church of the customer
A blog all about the power of creating customer evangelists
http://www.churchofthecustomer.com/blog/

 

Buzz Canuck
What’s on and under the radar of word of mouth marketing
http://buzzcanuck.typepad.com/

 

The Perfect Customer Experience
Customer experience marketing, marketplace conversations, social media and demand generation
http://contextrules.typepad.com/transformer/

 

Experience Matters
Unraveling The Mystery Of Customer Loyalty
http://experiencematters.wordpress.com/

 

Experienceology
How to turn businesses into great customer experiences
http://experienceology.blogspot.com/

 

 

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Damian Rees

About Damian Rees

Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees

Rigid process can hamper customer experience

23 Aug

One of our major supermarkets does a great pizza, which they make for you whilst you wait. I must say, they do taste good. If you order your pizza at the beginning of your shop, ten minutes later when you’ve picked up your other groceries, it is ready to take away. It has won awards.

I was a little miffed on Friday evening when I had to wait forty minutes for my pizza. Here’s what happened:

On ordering my pizza the young lady informed me that she was on her own so it may not be ready for twenty minutes. Excellent! I’ve been informed about the extra time, and although it is inconvenient I look through the magazine and book department. However, when I return after twenty minutes my pizza is not ready. The poor girl is working through a long list of pizzas, with a queue of people waiting and ordering more.

The employee experience is an important aspect of customer experience

Whilst the pizza backlog grew, two other employees are working at the same counter, but on cooked chickens and Indian/Chinese take away. There are no queues for these offerings, yet the two members of staff have a joke, pack up some chicken, go out back, come back again, pack a couple more chickens, and serve the odd customer. Not once, in the twenty minutes I waited, did I see them look to the poor pizza girl, let alone offer to help out. I got quite angry at this.
When I finally got my pizza I assured the girl that she had done a great job, little good it did her, and paid for my groceries. On leaving I visited the customer services desk to complain and stand up for the girl on the pizza counter. The lady informed me that the other two staff were unable to help out on pizza due to health and safety. On realising how daft this sounded she phoned through to a manager. After a five minute conversation I was informed that the chicken must be closed down before any help can be supplied to the pizza counter. I gave up!

Business process can remove common sense thinking

The help of one member of staff for fifteen minutes would have reduced the backlog and the queue. So the internal process looks to be wrong as employees stick to the process rather than helping their customers.
This can happen with rigid process. Employees do not see things from another point of view because they are blinkered by process. I’m not sure why the Managers didn’t do anything about it. But then I didn’t see any managers. Maybe they were following a process out the back?

Process is good, but it must allow for flexibility to ensure common sense prevails. Especially when good customers experience is at risk. By simply ensuring the process includes some thought provoking questions like:

  • Is there a problem here?
  • What do I need to do to resolve the problem?
  • If this was my company, what would I do differently?

These questions provide the opportunity for all employees to step outside the process to think for themselves.

Does your internal process ensure an excellent experience for your customers?

Related services: Customer Experience Research and Customer Requirements Capture

 

 

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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael

Forced restaurant service charges can damage the customer experience

7 Aug

Forced restaurant service charges can damage the customer experience

In recent months I have experienced behaviour from restaurants which I can’t quite fathom. When I receive the bill a service charge has already been added. And not just at my usual 10% rate, which I thought was standard in the UK, but at 12.5% or even 15%.

A tip should reward good customer experience

I am not a skinflint, but I have my own rules for paying a tip. The waiter/waitress has to be a bit special, by doing something nice that makes me enjoy my experience that little bit more. It’s not difficult to wait on me with a smile, to be there when I need a new bottle of wine, to provide a recommendation, or to know where my food is sourced from. And I am happy to pay 10% in cash to the particular waiter or waitress who has made my eating experience a good one.

So when I sit at a cramped table, eating average quality food that I could have made at home, and have difficulty in attracting the attention of the waiting staff (or receive too much attention), I don’t feel inclined to leave a tip. But wait. This already expensive meal, of average quality, has a 15% service charge automatically added to the bill.

The credit card machine provides no obvious option to remove the service charge from my bill payment. The only way to do this is to request it, making the process more confrontational for customers. I’m sure leaving a tip used to be a discreet affair!

In true British style I decide not to make a fuss. But I muse on it for days. Who decided to change the rules? Who has suddenly decided that us Brits are always happy to pay a tip? Who decided that this tip was to be 15%?

My answer? I won’t visit this restaurant again and I’ll warn my friends of it.

Delivering beyond customer expectations must become a priority business objective

I believe this is a case where internal process and business objectives have become the main focus without considering the customer. Yes, the business needs to make more money, and yes the waiting staff would like tips. But surely you are more likely to build loyal customers by focusing on the experience and the food? And surely the customer should have the choice to leave a tip to waiting staff that have waited particularly well?

There are reports that take-away food is becoming more popular as customers “Trade down”, by wishing to spend less with the economic uncertainty that looms. So a restaurant that automatically increases its pricing by adding a 15% service charge is not going to entice customers.

It is also important for restaurateurs to ensure their customers know what will happen to the tips they leave. It is disheartening to think that my tip is being used to top up salary. So it is comforting to see that the law is being updated. However, the choice must remain with the customer.

Understanding customer needs, meeting their expectations, and giving them the choice to tip is far more likely to encourage repeat visits. So companies must balance the business and customer objectives to ensure a sustainable and successful service.

Have you pushed forward your business goals without considering your customers’ goals?

Related services: Customer Profiling, Customer Experience Research, and Customer Requirements Capture

 

 

Liked this article?

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Ali Carmichael

About Ali Carmichael

Ali (or Alasdair) is an experienced project manager who loves his Gantt charts and milestones! He has over 12 years' experience managing successful online experiences for world class brands. Ali is responsible for ensuring our clients love what we do for them. Follow Ali on twitter @AliJCarmichael