Is customer experience the answer to everything?
It is said that under pressure, we revert to type. Ryanair promised to improve its customer experience back in 2014. In 2018 Ryanair was under pressure to lick its pilots into shape and what did it do – it cancelled hundreds of flights making passengers’ lives a misery. Ryanair ignored the very obvious link between customer experience and employee experience. Do you really believe that the company genuinely wants to offer a great customer experience? At the end of the day they are hoping that their low prices are sufficient to bring customers back – happy or not.
Just before Christmas, Dixons Carphone published its interim earnings report. It showed that the company makes its money from electrical retailing rather than mobile phones. What caught our attention was the comment from Alex Baldock, Chief Executive of the company, who said that he was aiming to fix the profitability of the group by putting more cash towards improving the “customer experience”. Apparently he will start with unifying the IT systems which are still separate, four years after the merger between Dixons and Carphone Warehouse in 2014. Surely the integration of these IT systems is nothing to do with a great customer experience. Of course, it can ruin the customer experience just as any other failure in a business process.
Slow deliveries, delayed responses to questions, out of stock products are all serious frustrations to customers. These are hygiene factors that every company must get right in the first place. Customers do not jump up and down and say “great company, it has integrated its IT systems!” Customers jump with delight if the salesperson fully understands their needs and puts them on a pricing schedule that is just right for them. They say “Great company, I’ll go there again” when they hit a problem that is resolved immediately with sincere apologies and some form of redress.
When will companies learn what customer experience really is? Sadly, it is often trumpeted as the new order by companies who do not value customer experience. True customer experience begins with absolute commitment at the top of the company. A commitment that says “Our relationship with customers is valued more than anything else and we will do everything we can to preserve it”. Beware of companies that say they have discovered customer experience and it is going to be their mantra from now on. Those that offer truly excellent customer experience don’t need to tell you – you just know.