Customer Experience Matters – Except When It Doesn’t (Which is a Lot of the Time)

Last week I brought my son to the orthodontist for his regular check-in. We had an 8 a.m. appointment. Great–early in the day, I thought. They’ll surely be on time.
In the past, this particular ortho has decidedly NOT been on time. Like never. I once waited an hour with my son to get in.

But, I was optimistic. Turns out, that didn’t last long. We waited 30 minutes to get in. Then, I waited another 30 minutes for him to complete an appointment that took a grand total of 5 minutes.
Think about the customer experience of that visit for my son–and me.
Not ideal, right? Borderline terrible. And, keep in mind, we didn’t get a single apology, or even a “thanks for being patient”–from anyone.
I posted about my experience on Facebook, lamenting how broken our health care system is. To my surprise my friends came back with a host of other industries where this lack of customer service and experience matters–home construction, cable TV companies, credit card companies and hair salons (that one surprised me).
And you know what? They’re absolutely right.
Despite all the buzz about “customer experience” in the marketing world, the cold hard truth is this: Most companies and industries suck at customer experience and service.
In fact, it’s a huge surprise when you DO have a great customer experience!
If you’re a chicken sandwich fan, think about your last trip to Chick-Fil-A. You were greeted warmly. They got your order right (probably). And the employee who served you most likely then said “my pleasure.” It was fast. It was easy. And it was pleasant. Not too hard, right? But yet, that experience stands out. Why? Because everyone else is so horrible.
Stats say that poor customer service is costing companies upwards of $75 billion a year. That’s up $13 billion from 2016. Yikes.
The result? Customers are turning into “serial switchers.”
And, apparently, brands (and entire industries) don’t seem to care.
Think about a few of the companies you may interact with semi-regularly.
Your internet provider, for example. Our internet was on the fritz a couple weeks ago. I had to figure out what was up. As you might guess, that required a 45-minute phone conversation before it was fixed. Not a great customer experience.
What about your bank? One of my banks (which shall remain nameless) is making the transition to all online banking. In that effort, apparently, they’re just stopping using deposit slips at branches. I know this because I visited the branch recently to deposit a check and was told they wouldn’t be taking in-person deposits anymore (the teller even handed me a stack of deposit slips so I could use them in the weeks ahead). Meanwhile, this particular bank has a HORRIBLE online experience. This is the same bank that made a big deal recently about “online banking” (welcome to the 21st century lame bank!).
Your favorite local restaurant? We had dinner at a relatively well-known local restaurant here in South Minneapolis recently. We had a lovely meal. Bought a bottle of wine. We were enjoying ourselves. Until the manager came over and asked us to switch tables. Apparently, our table was reserved for someone else at a certain time and we had been at the table too long (just over an hour, as it turns out). Needless to say, we won’t be going back to that restaurant. And, they didn’t seem to care at all.
No, great customer service and experience is definitely the outlier in 2019. And that’s a sad thing.

Last week I brought my son to the orthodontist for his regular check-in. We had an 8 a.m. appointment. Great–early in the day, I thought. They’ll surely be on time.

In the past, this particular ortho has decidedly NOT been on time. Like never. I once waited an hour with my son to get in.

But, I was optimistic. Turns out, that didn’t last long. We waited 30 minutes to get in. Then, I waited another 30 minutes for him to complete an appointment that took a grand total of 5 minutes.

Think about the customer experience of that visit for my son–and me.

Not ideal, right? Borderline terrible. And, keep in mind, we didn’t get a single apology, or even a “thanks for being patient”–from anyone.

I posted about my experience on Facebook, lamenting how broken our health care system is. To my surprise my friends came back with a host of other industries where this lack of customer service and experience matters–home construction, cable TV companies, credit card companies and hair salons (that one surprised me).

And you know what? They’re absolutely right.

Despite all the buzz about “customer experience” in the marketing world, the cold hard truth is this: Most companies and industries suck at customer experience and service.

In fact, it’s a huge surprise when you DO have a great customer experience!

If you’re a chicken sandwich fan, think about your last trip to Chick-Fil-A. You were greeted warmly. They got your order right (probably). And the employee who served you most likely then said “my pleasure.” It was fast. It was easy. And it was pleasant. Not too hard, right? But yet, that experience stands out. Why? Because everyone else is so horrible.

Stats say that poor customer service is costing companies upwards of $75 billion a year. That’s up $13 billion from 2016. Yikes.

The result? Customers are turning into “serial switchers.”

And, apparently, brands (and entire industries) don’t seem to care.

Think about a few of the companies you may interact with semi-regularly.

Your internet provider, for example. Our internet was on the fritz a couple weeks ago. I had to figure out what was up. As you might guess, that required a 45-minute phone conversation before it was fixed. Not a great customer experience.

What about your bank? One of my banks (which shall remain nameless) is making the transition to all online banking. In that effort, apparently, they’re just stopping using deposit slips at branches. I know this because I visited the branch recently to deposit a check and was told they wouldn’t be taking in-person deposits anymore (the teller even handed me a stack of deposit slips so I could use them in the weeks ahead). Meanwhile, this particular bank has a HORRIBLE online experience. This is the same bank that made a big deal recently about “online banking” (welcome to the 21st century lame bank!).

Your favorite local restaurant? We had dinner at a relatively well-known local restaurant here in South Minneapolis recently. We had a lovely meal. Bought a bottle of wine. We were enjoying ourselves. Until the manager came over and asked us to switch tables. Apparently, our table was reserved for someone else at a certain time and we had been at the table too long (just over an hour, as it turns out). Needless to say, we won’t be going back to that restaurant. And, they didn’t seem to care at all.

No, great customer service and experience is definitely the outlier in 2019. And that’s a sad thing.

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