The Subtleties of Customer Experience: Lessons from a Real-World Scenario

The Subtleties of Customer Experience: Lessons from a Real-World Scenario

This post comes from guest blogger, Danny Snow.

In today's digital age, where alternative options are just a click away, it's the subtleties of the customer experience that make or break loyalty. Let's not underestimate the power of getting the "small" things right.

I’ve been a customer with a popular roadside assistance company for about 20 years now. Fortunately, I’ve only needed to use their services a handful of times and it was always a positive experience.

Recently, however, I had an experience with them that perfectly captures a common challenge many customers face when dealing with a large organization.

My wife, who is not listed on our account, was set to fly back home to Orlando. On her drive to the airport a few days earlier, she noticed that the pressure in one of her tires became quite low as she was parking. She was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to drive it back home when she returned.

So, since she knew I had an account, she called them to schedule a time for them to meet her upon her arrival to either fill it with air or replace the tire depending on the situation.

The representative that she spoke with was very pleasant and let her know that they would be able to schedule a time for one of their drivers to meet her in the parking garage. However, since she wasn’t listed on the account, I would need to call in and add her.

Navigating Customer Service Challenges

My call came later in the day and was with a different representative. After explaining the situation and sitting on hold for 10-minutes while he communicated with another team member, he informed me that he wasn’t able to assist me but was transferring me to the correct department.

I always hate reaching that point because more often than not, that means you’re going to have to repeat all of the information you just shared with the first rep.

Even worse, all he did was send me back to the original automated phone tree so I had to begin the entire process all over again of getting to the right person.

When I finally made my way to the “correct” department, the information they shared with me was quite different from what my wife had been told. The services, prices, as well as the ability to even schedule a time with them was completely inconsistent between the representatives.

I ended the call in frustration and with no assistance for my wife.

Normally, I would have just planned to go and assist her but our kids had activities that evening. We were eventually able to get to the airport to pick her up later that night but that meant she had to wait for a while before we could get to her.

The Importance of Seamless Customer Experiences

I realize that is not a MAJOR inconvenience but this experience highlighted two very common frustrations when it comes to dealing with any organization:

  1. The Frustration of Department Transfers: A minor oversight like sending a customer back to the main menu might seem trivial, but it's a frustrating setback. It drains the customer's time and patience. Not explaining the situation to the new department so the customer doesn’t have to do it again is another huge pet peeve of mine.
  2. Inconsistency in Information: This is arguably more frustrating. If two representatives of the same organization provide conflicting data, where does the customer's trust lie?

From the lens of a customer, these experiences aren't just minor setbacks. They shape perceptions, influence future interactions, and determine loyalty. Organizations must understand that every touchpoint, from the automated call menu to the information relayed by a representative, contributes to the overarching customer experience.

Lessons for Organizations: Consistency and User-Centric Approach

Organizations should ensure that they deliver a consistent customer experience that is reliable, and user-centric. Training should be uniform, so information doesn't vary wildly between representatives. And systems should be set up to avoid unnecessary friction, like sending a customer back to the start of a call.

As I mentioned earlier, all of my previous experiences with them have been positive and they were there when I needed them. And while this one encounter left me annoyed, it didn’t make me want to cancel my membership. However, had this been my very first encounter with them or if this became a more common occurrence, I’d likely start to look elsewhere.

Service Trade-Off: Would you be willing to pay more for a product or service if it meant you’d receive superior customer support?

Looking for other ideas on how to improve customer experience? You can find more posts by Danny Snow here;

The Importance of Walking The Talk As A Leader:

Why Uber/Lyft Disrupted The Taxi Industry:

How Little Wows Add Up To A Big Sale:

You can find additional information on Snow & Associates customer service training programs here,