Monthly Archives: March 2011

Frontiers of Customer Experience Part 2


Continuing from a previous blog…
The next boundary is to consider customer education.  This is not about training customers; education is about helping them use your product or service in a way which suits them.  Surprisingly it may not be how you want them to use your service and may well infuriate your front line staff. 
Whilst working with a council team who were trying to meet their recycling targets, the overall theme was a general grumble about the 150,000 people in the town who seemed incapable of putting the right waste in the right bin and putting it out on the roadside on the right day!  After all, they had put a leaflet through every household letterbox; ”they have been told”.  Perhaps 150,000 people think differently. 
Then there was the CEO of a large organisation bemoaning the fact that his managers seemed to have ignored the information on slide 37 of his annual leadership conference presentation just three weeks previous.  I had sat through this presentation and completely understood the reason why … it had been deadly boring.  I saw more of the inside of my eyelids than his slides!   It’s not the customer’s fault.  If you want to help them to take full benefit of your service then you have to understand how people want to learn how to use it.
Thousands of pounds are spent gathering data on our customers; my supermarket knows everything about my eating, cleaning and grooming habits in order to give me a better shopping experience.  Their customer intelligence helps segment offers specifically to me so my supermarket experience is tailored to my lifestyle.  Think on, if organisations know so much, why do their customers often use so little of the potential of their product? 
Take my humble mobile phone as an example. It can allow me to phone, to text, photograph, video, surf, e-mail, plot my position anywhere on the planet with GPS and even play music.  Brilliant perhaps, but I don’t do text and don’t use anything other than the telephone function. I’m reasonably technically proficient but I really can’t be bothered to read the hundred or so pages of instruction in the phone’s handbook.  It’s not how I learn.  What more could there be to help me use the full potential of my mobile? Until they work this out I can only dream of the day when, as I emerge from a tube station, from the wrong exit and instead of asking the nearest tourist for help, the GPS on my phone is my saviour.
Customer education needs to take more account of people’s different learning styles’.  It makes complete sense that if they are able to become more involved with the experience we offer then they will become better customers. 

Queuing: there has to be a better way.

That’s it.  I’ve had enough!  I stood on the edge and ‘they’ just had to come and give me a nudge.  I’m a fairly patient person, but there is a limit.  It’s time I put my head above the parapet and said something.
Queuing – there has to be a better way!  Here are some of my experiences to date:
Pointless queueing:  My boiler is broken, we have no heat or hot water but I have a service contract.  It proudly advertises the contact phone number and offers me all the care in the world.  Their engineer is quite happy to rush around to my home to relieve our misery.  That is until you call the number: “Press 1 for this 2 for that and 3 for the other”!  After four levels of this, that and the other they cut me off.  Three times!  Eventually I pressed random buttons until someone in sales kindly passed me on. 
Brilliant queuing:  I phoned my bank, First Direct.  Three rings and I was through to a lovely lady in Leeds.  Oh joy!
Complex queuing:  I visited a bank only to approach the counter to be told I couldn’t be served because I hadn’t got a ticket.  Regular visitors to the branch were tutting at me and accusatorily waving their tickets in the air.  How dare I jump the queue?  Those ‘in the know’ had got a ticket from the touch-screen machine hidden in the corner of the branch.  Rather aggrieved, I waited on a seat clutching ticket 345.  Soon, I too was wafting my ticket at unfortunates who were being turned away for flouting the system.  I was still queuing.  Why make my queuing experience event more complex?  Why go through a process in order to join a queue?
Fun queuing:  When my children were young we visited a few theme parks. Naturally, I had disregarded my father’s advice which was to go on a wet Wednesday in April to avoid the queues.  No, we always went when there were thousands of people.  So for a short while only, I managed to persuade my brood that the queue was the theme park and the rides were only the way to get to the next queue.  Our change in mindset meant we had lots of fun chatting with other queuers, playing games and generally mucking about.
Productive queuing:  When conference venues tell me that they can reduce the queuing time for the inevitable buffet to seconds, I always see it as a missed opportunity.  Conferences are great places to meet new people; I have had some wonderful conversations in buffet queues. Sharing experiences, views and ideas on good practice, followed by the reward at the end of a little something deep fried in batter!
It is possible to make my queuing experience better; if only organisations gave it a little imagination, queuing could be fun.