A good day yesterday at The Focus Group’s Customer Experience Digital Leadership event in Holborn. Not only did I get the chance to catch up with BT’s Nicola Millard, Postshift’s Lee Bryant and WB40’s Chris Weston, but I also had the chance to roadtest some of the key concepts from the Play book.
At the end of the afternoon there was a panel debate that picked up on some of the threads that had come up in the day. One in particular has been bouncing around in my head overnight: the extent to which quality of customer experience should be a paid option.
Now, to an extent, this is already the case. I choose to pay a little more to buy some goods from John Lewis than on, say, Amazon, because of the experience and extended service over pure price. I’ve just bought breakdown cover from Green Flag which is kind of shifting my customer experience pricing from the warranty offered by the manufacturer to a third party. To an extent customer service is a form of insurance. The world of software support has also given the option to customers explicitly for many years.
But what is irksome is when organisations claim that “customers are at the heart of what we do” (usually straight after saying “our people are our greatest asset”) and then proceed to make customer experience a cost to be managed at minimum, rather than an investment to be made against future revenue.
It’s that last point I find most interesting- how many customer service operations are focused exclusively on driving future custom? Too often the performance metrics will be vanity, efficiency targets that mean little in the long term. And then the gulf that exists between the pre-customer “being marketed to” phase and the customer “we’ve got you now” phase emphasises the issues even more.