Every day, organisations enable a myriad of interactions with their customers and employees. Whether it’s an online shopper trying to purchase a new pair of shoes or a design engineer taking a leadership training course, companies provide experiences throughout every aspect of their operations. While it would be great for these interactions to create wonderful memories, many of them end up being easily forgettable or, even worse, bad experiences.  

The good news is that these broken experiences can be fixed if brands are willing to treat them as opportunities for improvement. Below, we delve into five common broken experiences and the respective recommendations to help companies recover situations that could otherwise be painful for customers:  

 1. The “No” experience  

The harsh reality is that the customer isn’t always right. In many cases, they complain when a company has done anything wrong, request things that can’t or shouldn’t be provided, and periodically make simple mistakes. While brands should always try to understand and address consumers’ needs, they can’t always just say “yes.”  

These moments of friction can be inevitable yet critical to the overall satisfaction of the customer, so companies need to handle them with care. What’s important to remember is that customers always deserve the benefit of the doubt and to be treated with respect. Before turning down a customer request, demonstrate the necessary level of empathy – particularly in high-stress situations – and ensure that you stay away from using negative terms such as “can’t” or “won’t”.  

Also, try not to leave customers without any alternative options either. If a customer wants a TV that isn’t in stock, suggest a similar model that can be shipped right away. As a last resort provide details as to how they can escalate the issue.  

2. The waiting experience  

A component of the customer journey that tends to be under-appreciated is waiting. After hearing that a flight is delayed, travellers wait for an update. If a product is out of stock, consumers wait for it to be available again. During these “in-between” periods, consumers’ anxieties can grow as they wonder and worry about what’s going on behind the scenes – even if it turns out that they have all the available information.  

That’s why it’s essential, at every stage in the process, that customers have a clear understanding of the timing of the next update. Assume they’ll also wonder if the status of their situation has changed. Therefore, plan to provide updates even if nothing is new. Sometimes just letting customers know that “we’re still on track” is invaluable.   

3. The on-boarding experience  

You may think that new customers want to love your company, but keep in mind that they’re still very impressionable and can easily become disgruntled. They’re often anxious to get value from a new organisation, but a lack of context about products and processes can make new interactions with a business easily frustrating. 

Instead of treating these “beginners” the same way as loyal customers, craft design personas that are specifically focused on new customers to identify what they do and don’t know. These should be used as the primary personas for designing all onboarding experiences, but you should still expect that some new people will run into problems.  

Even if you can’t offer high levels of human support for all customers across their lifecycle, proactively provide additional support to accommodate their needs and analyse feedback for sentiment to continuously improve.  

4. The decision experience  

Customers are asked to make all sorts of decisions within a purchase that they may or may not be prepared to make. In some cases, they don’t have the requisite knowledge to understand all their choices, or just don’t want to devote a considerable amount of time thinking about it.  

In other cases, people relish the process of researching their options. However, in all cases, consumers can end up having buyer’s remorse. So it’s critical to think about who’s making the decision, which options they’re deliberating, and with what assistance.  

Rather than showcasing every option at once, progressively disclose “popular” options with short, helpful descriptions or social tags like “highest rated”. After someone makes a decision, they often fall into a period of doubt – try not to let that happen. Instead, immediately confirm their decision and reinforce that they made the right choice, both in their selection of the product and your organisation in the first place. 

5. The transition experience  

It would be great if consumers could accomplish their goals within a single interaction. Unfortunately, that’s not the norm. A person may research some options online, talk to a colleague, visit a store to look at something, and then reach out to a contact centre. It’s easy to get lost when transitioning between multiple channels, which may leave customers feeling like they’re always starting from scratch.  

Using consistent terminology across transitions is core to making customers feel more comfortable. When someone sees a product in a store and opts to purchase it online, they shouldn’t have to wonder if they’ve found the same product online as they have seen in the store. Provide a way to easily start the process of purchasing when they’re standing in front of the item, maybe by offering QR codes to help them verify that the items are indeed the same.  

Plan to resolve  

While focusing on these five broken experiences can help just about every organisation, customers can still stumble across moments of uncertainty, frustration, or impatience.  You need to be prepared to respond quickly in these moments, establishing proactive service recovery processes.  

To build customer loyalty and keep churn low, companies must set out to continuously improve all of the experiences they deliver by listening to feedback as well as designing new ways to make life easier for the customers.  


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