Scary thought! Even with the most glorious product or service, companies can exhibit blindspots in experience design and customer loyalty, and these can negatively impact growth goals.
Take Company X, a start up in the education space. Driven by an altruistic desire to inspire kids, its founder tells the story of laboring through countless personal and professional trials and tribulations to rise above it all. A noble mission. The company is now a multimillion dollar success.
Company X’s products and overall marketing (including social media rollout) seemed flawless. Even its pricing was well thought out offering flexible billing, with enticing promotion codes. Everything screamed “this is a smart company! Caught up in the picture perfect pitch, and realizing my niece’s birthday was coming up in a week, I followed one of Company X’s promotion emails to place an order.
So what could go wrong?
Only after completing the order, and finalizing the credit card payment did I realize nowhere in the experience did the site engagement tell me when the product actually would arrive. Wanting to confirm the delivery date, I sought out a telephone number for the company. None was available. Next, I submitted an online support request. After a day with no response, the anxiety escalated. I looked up toy stores in the city where my niece lives, and simply ordered a backup gift.
Why did this beautiful brand story go off the rails? What botched seemingly the perfect experience design?
- Empathy Lacking — The product, a child subscription, is perfect for gifting. Had the firm understood this more deeply, they would have understood and designed scenarios where rapid delivery was possible. Using tools and methodologies such as Design Thinking could have helped create an end to end solid experience that supported the firm’s business and customer mission.
- Delivery Slip Ups — There were numerous flaws relating to Delivery. While the actual delivery proved solid, the lead up was flawed. First, nowhere did the firm offer options for expedited shipping. This just wasn’t a feature of their product. There was a total lack of transparency here which could easily have been mitigated by mere content. Second, the lack of a better range of shipping options shows that the company may not have the partnerships necessary to get the product out on time. Both these points not only injured the customer experience, but likely resulted in added support costs.
- Support, What Support? — There were several areas of support failure. First, the site should have anticipated that customers need to have multiple avenues of support. A telephone number or chat feature could have mitigated multiple issues. The goal should have been to ensure no support was even necessary. Simply noting product arrival dates in advance of accepting credit card payments would have solved this issue, eliminating the need for support. A FAQ section could also have served to alleviate the anxiety of its customers.
- Brand Let Down — The company’s marketing efforts, including their Founder’s story, engendered a lot of emotional buy in. I knew my niece would enjoy the product, and I wanted to support a small business dedicated to teaching children. There was exceptional good will (and with it significant responsibility) surrounding the purchase. Delayed responses, unanswered attempts to speak with the CEO, all eroded the very positive sentiment. For me, the company’s name is now synonymous with disillusionment.
- Retention & Missed Opportunity — Despite ultimately canceling the product and buying a replacement gift Company X did not stop the delivery. The result. My niece received the Company X product (along with what was supposed to be a replacement gift), and she loved the Company X gift. That necessitated me having to call to uncancel the subsequent deliveries. The gift held me hostage. I often consider whether I can order other subscriptions for other members of my family. But I don’t. On principle. Think though of the impact of this one experience to Company X. They will never upsell me, resulting in roughly a loss of a $400 annual revenue stream. Moreover, I shared my disappointment in one and one conversations. Imagine if I had shared it on Social Media. How do you quantify the loss of that one customer on your company’s revenue stream?
Whether you are an emerging business or a mid- to large-sized established business, it’s important to have a well throughout customer experience design. But it takes a willingness to really invest in experience design, and to come to that process with an openness.
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