What’s the Experience, Really?

I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t read about companies touting how important it is for them to deliver a stellar customer experience. Think Apple. I also hear executives from companies, including our own clients talk about their focus on improving upon and delivering on a customer experience that wows.

But does the talk always match the walk?


In two unrelated personal situations, it became obvious to me that the people chartered with delivering the said WOW customer experience haven’t gotten the memo about how important it is. Even though the people are nice enough, the overall experience wasn’t all that!

Here’s the story of just one situation…

Early last week, I had an important need to upgrade our credit card processing service. The promise is that the process takes 2-days. A longtime customer, I was confident all would go smoothly. While that was mostly the case, there were a few bumps in the road…

The story begins with finding out that there was a limit to the credit card processing dollar amount on my current account plan. That meant that a customer transaction couldn’t not currently be handled. I needed to upgrade my account. OK, I put in the application to apply for the software upgrade needed. How tough could it be?

A day later, I receive a phone call from one of the reps who needed to “grill me” on my business and the services offered. It was like I had to justify myself as a business professional by someone who clearly knew nothing about my business.

Next, I’m told that I have to submit additional paperwork (contact, payment terms, etc)– to prove I’m legit, because I guess the Federal Tax ID and owning a business for 10 years wasn’t sufficient.

I receive an email with instructions to FAX the documents to a specific number. I do that immediately.

Next day, I receive a phone call from another rep that evidently confused my application with something else, which got me confused. Now I’m wondering why the rep that I talked to the day before didn’t tell me that I had not signed up for what I thought that I did. Now I’m becoming annoyed, but the gal on the line with me says she’ll clear it up.

She also tells me that she called because the documents I was to send to them had not been received. I said I faxed them at 5pm the day before and have confirmation. Oh, she says, it can take up to 24 hours for us to receive the paperwork. Of course, they don’t tell you that up front. She then goes on to say that it is faster if I upload them through my account. I do that while on the phone with her. I then ask why – if it’s better to upload through the account - that this information isn’t in the email that they send to you. I’m not sure she says…this happens all the time. Uh, hello, fix it someone.

Ten minutes later my rep calls me back. Turns out, I’m not crazy. She made a mistake. I had applied for the right service upgrade. I’m wondering if we can now finally move this forward.

I’m told I’m good to go. No, wait. I’m not. The credit card is American Express. Another approval needed. That clears and I get the email saying things are all set.

I input the credit card transaction and it goes through smoothly. But…wait for it…

Bam – I go to transfer funds to the company bank account and I receive an error that says that funds cannot be transferred until I submit requested paperwork. This is the very same paperwork that the gal the day before confirmed she had in hand.

End of story…I write customer service about my problem and give them the names, dates, times, I talked to folks. Someone woke up and cleared up the issue.

I’m sure you have your stories too. There are just too darn many examples of how lousy service provided by most companies really is. In my example, it is redundant phone calls, faxing documents as told, but then told that uploading documents is faster and moves your account processing along. People not clear on the product that I was purchasing. Having funds being put on hold because another service doesn’t see the documents in my account? Is this a case of people looking at different systems and maybe they aren’t all tying together? Whatever the reasons, this is a process that needs some cleaning up.

This cost me about 2 hours of my billable time. Exactly how is that a great customer experience?

My recommendation to every company out there…

Stop talking about how important creating that WOW customer experience is to your business and actually do something about it.

Here’s a thought…

Find out for yourself what it is like to be on the receiving end of what you believe to be great service. Put every single one of your service people…heck, everyone in your company…through the process of your customer experience. I guarantee that the exercise will give you a whole new perspective about the type of service experience your customers and prospects are actually receiving!

One thought on “What’s the Experience, Really?

  1. Great blog, Barb - and a not so great story to illustrate it! Yikes.

    You’re so right that it’s never been more important to deliver a 5-star customer experience. Over 63% of buyers chose helpfulness and knowledge when selecting a vendor. With the right building blocks, an introductory meeting can turn a prospect into a loyal customer—but how you get from handshake to close is all based on the prospect’s initial and continued experience.

    I share key strategies I’ve picked up in talking to sales leaders nationwide in my blog here: http://blog.pgi.com/2012/07/deliver-rich-customer-experience-increase-revenue-customer-loyalty/

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