Stop Making Customer Experience The Customer's Problem

Contributor: Blake Morgan
Posted: 04/24/2017
Blake Morgan

Improving the customer experience is the business' job.  Unfortunately, far too many organizations place the burden on the customer.  These reactive organizations expect the customer to identify all problems and propose potential solutions.  Making matters worse, they make it difficult for willing customers to even provide that feedback.

Customer experience thought leader and one-time CCW Digital managing editor Blake Morgan shares her perspective on this unfortunate customer experience reality:

I know my weaknesses and my strengths. Sometimes my strengths are my weaknesses, and sometimes my weaknesses are my strengths. I’m a fixer, meaning if I see something broken I often try to fix it. I like to help people as well, which is part of the reason I'm interested in the topic of customer service. I like to help people in need, and I like to inspire people to improve their lives. I often have to force myself to stop trying to help other people. Like a lot of women, I will give and give and give, until I realize I haven't taken care of myself, and I have no more resources to do so. I'm not like this anymore for the most part because I've learned about boundaries and how important they are. 

I can give a good make-over, and I’m good at giving pep talks, speaking to groups to inspire them. In fact, that’s my job. But, on the other hand, sometimes I get myself into situations I shouldn’t. For example, I often find myself fixing the customer experiences of companies I am a customer of.

Here’s an example. I live in a new housing development near a gym. The gym is old…really old. None of my neighbors belong to this gym because it's very outdated. My husband and I go to the gym at least 5 days a week. The gym is walking distance from my house so while there are nicer gyms a 15-minute drive away, we much prefer the convenience of walking to the gym. I will add that my husband is in a sports league there. We live on an island, and there are a lot of older people who live here too. The gym has been here for many years and has a loyal, yet aging population. I’m one of the Millennials that has moved into the area, and the area is changing. The gym, however, stays the same. One has to wonder if the managers of this gym have become so comfortable with the revenue that they'd rather not invest to grow. Clearly they don't care about attracting younger and more customers.

Yesterday I walked by a spin class and there was only one person in it. Now that's an awkward workout class! To add insult to injury, the weight room has holes in the walls where weights were dropped and broke through. The towels for the pool are very old and scratchy. The entire gym could use an update. I was feeling very improvement-focused one day (for better or worse) and I saw the manager of the gym. I said, “Hey, are you interested in any customer feedback?” He said sure and got out a Post-it. I thought to myself, "A Post-it isn't going to cut it." Clearly, this manager had no idea the condition of the gym. The customer feedback I had for him could fill a book, let alone a Post-it. I felt bad; he was clearly in denial since everything I told him seemed to be news. He was considerate. He listened to my feedback and wrote some of it down on his Post-it. He took my email and later sent me a note telling me how much he appreciated my feedback. Then he sent me another email, and another. With every small improvement to the class schedule, guess who got an email about it? Me!

Comcast, Stop Telling Us You're Working On It, Just Do It 

Like a lot of Bay Area people, I listen to NPR a lot. And on NP,R you often hear a particular radio program like "Morning Edition" is sponsored by Comcast. Most of us are aware that Comcast has a very damaged reputation when it comes to customer service. Comcast knows this and has launched a national advertising campaign to tell people Comcast is trying to fix their customer service.

I dislike these messages from Comcast. It's like when you're in a crappy relationship, and the other person keeps saying they're going to change, but they don't. Comcast, if you're working on your customer experiences, the experiences will get better and your customers will talk about them. It's less talking, more doing. If you're good, we'll know. Put your money into fixing your problems instead of advertising.

Don’t Make Customer Feedback Your Customer’s Problem

Customers are busy. Some of them don’t want to give you feedback because then the act of improving your products, services and overall customer experience becomes their problem. The same thing happened to me with Safeway. I wrote a Forbes post about issues I had with my local Safeway. Instead of reading what I wrote in the column, their corporate communications team contacted me, and then the district manager contacted me. He wanted to meet with me so I could provide more feedback. I in no way intended on giving any more of my time to Safeway. I had hoped my article would send them a message, and they would read the contents of it and make those improvements. It bothered me that not only did they not change the things I already told them, but they thought I would now be happy to give them my valuable time to help this well-resourced company fix its problems. I of course would do this by offering my own resources at no cost.

Companies, do not make your customer feedback programs extra work for your customers. If you really need the help of your customers, either make it stupid-simple for them to provide you feedback, or incentivize them. Customers have their own lives, jobs and families to worry about. They don’t have time to go on a scavenger hunt to provide you with feedback.

A lot of companies have started to use Net Promoter Score, because it’s literally one-click feedback. "Would you recommend us to a friend?" If you get a low score, you can investigate why. If you can’t get your feedback in one click, then you better incentivize your customers to help you on your customer experience improvement journey. Because I'm no longer a free fixer, and neither are your customers.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.

Blake Morgan
Contributor: Blake Morgan