Guest Blogger

I was browsing through the news today and I saw a story about the customer experience and Big Data analytics suggesting that with all this information available on customers there is no longer any excuse for poor service.

In theory this is correct and some brands are getting it right. I love the suggestions for new books that Amazon and Audible give to me. I usually see highly relevant adverts on Facebook and I know that they are linked to online searches I have made recently. I can see many companies – particularly hi-tech ones – getting to grips with how to use customer information.

But what’s your day-to-day experience with most brands?

  • I went to buy a TV recently and the sales person in the store laughed when I showed him the TV I wanted on my phone listed on the website of his own store. The website price was 50% cheaper than the store price and although he offered to match the price he complained so much about having to compete with his own website that I left the store without buying anything.
  • When visiting the USA recently I bought a local sim, but the data package expired while I was travelling and I had to call customer services to charge it up again. First, I was getting bounced around several agents just for something as simple as a recharge on my account, second every agent wanted my phone number even though I was calling from the line I wanted to charge, third they would not accept a credit card from a foreigner to pay for the service.
  • The bookstore I often use in the UK has a loyalty scheme that relies on the customer bringing a loyalty card in store when making a purchase. Forget the card and your points are lost. In theory you can save the receipt then make a visit to the store to get your points added, but who has time for another visit to the store just to claim points?
  • When I call my bank the automatic system asks me to enter my account number, then when a live agent picks up the call the first thing I am asked is my account number although I just punched it into the computer. When they transfer me to another agent I am asked for my account number again.
  • My local cinema is popular so I like to book reserved tickets in advance, but to buy a ticket online you need to join their ‘club’ and accept marketing emails and joining the club requires a lot of details, such as my address, social security number, identification details… just to buy a movie ticket?

I study the best examples of customer service all the time. I’m always researching the future of how customers will interact with brands and I see some great case studies, but I don’t have very many memorable experiences day-to-day – do you?

I was impressed recently when a frustrated tweet about the TAP airlines website led to all my problems being fixed within minutes thanks to a few private Twitter messages, but these “wow” moments are few and far between. Yet according to all the industry analysts, getting the customer experience right is now more important to executives than reducing costs and increasing profits – so who do you know that is really hitting the target and making a difference?

Why is there such a big difference between the best examples of service and the “normal” we all usually accept? Please leave your own thoughts here as a comment or tweet me on @markhillary.

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