The CX Angle Podcast: Barriers that Impact Customer Experience

customer experience podcast series

We are in the midst of a Customer Experience (CX) revolution and customers are demanding an enhanced experience.  In this third episode of The CX Angle, itelligence Corporate Communication Manager, Jeremy Cross, and Customer Experience Account Executive, Ryan Kubec, discuss one of the winners in CX, Domino’s Pizza.

Read the transcript below or listen to the podcast.

 (Jeremy Cross) Today we are going to be talking about getting out of your own way when it comes to CX. Getting out of your own way, eliminating barriers that will get in the way of creating an effective customer experience. Our goal here is to identify what we believe to be three different barriers that can be eliminated. These are not the only barriers; but these are three that have come to mind, and by eliminating these three barriers you can create an effective customer experience.

I think – and, Ryan, tell me if you disagree with me – but I would say, first and foremost; and most things could fall under this, removing friction. It’s as simple as that. Removing friction helps to create an effective customer experience.

(Ryan Kubec) Absolutely. So this is one of the buzz words in the customer experience industry — friction, customer friction, friction factor; however you want to call it. But what it is, for those who aren’t familiar with that term, is essentially anything that would cause your customers to use up more of their time, or give them a headache, or make them have an unpleasant experience.

So, the example I shared on our introductory podcast was travelling; having to wait in line to get a boarding pass printed and check in for an airline. You remove the friction of having to wait in that long line to go talk to a customer service representative by giving a self-service option where I can check in from my phone in the morning when I’m grabbing my bags to go out the door and I have my boarding pass sent to me so I can skip that whole process. It saves me time, it saves me a headache, it frees up some of my day. Being able to remove that friction is a goal and really should be one of the measured outcomes for customer experience improvement.

(Jeremy Cross) All right. So another one that we came up with was this idea of not asking the right questions, or simply not asking questions at all. What would you say to that? What would be your example for doing that and improving upon customer experience?

(Ryan Kubec) Yeah, so there’s kind of two sides to this. So, not asking questions and not allowing yourself to hear or get the answers. The obvious one is not asking questions of the customer about what their experience is like, what do they enjoy, what is causing them friction or headaches.

But the other piece is really internal, in not allowing your internal staff that’s providing that customer experience, or providing customer service or sales, to voice how things are actually going. And it’s – we talked about Domino’s in a previous podcast – that there is no way they would have been able to make the transition they did if when they were evaluating how they were stacking up they cherry-picked all the good things people said about their company. They had to focus on how they were actually viewed in the eyes of the customer, and that allowed them to drive some of those changes.

So I think not asking the right questions; you’ve got to get the information from the customers. If you don’t have a mechanism for that, you’ve got to find that. Surveys are used, and they can be effective, but they can also be ignored. Having your customer service people or individual sales reps, or whoever is out there working with the customer, asking for that feedback, and then creating a culture that allows people to be honest, both with your customers and with your internal people.

If you have a customer service organization and they have to report on how things are going, and the expectation is that if it doesn’t look like it’s going well, then they’re going to be viewed as not being good at their job and they may be at risk. You’re going to get an over-embellished, prettied up PowerPoint that says how fantastic you’re doing, while meanwhile you’re not meeting the needs of customers.

So you’ve got to allow – and this is, again, a culture thing – what we’ll talk about throughout this entire series is that this has got to be top-down, that a company says, the experience of our customers is important and if there are things that we can do better, we need you to bring that up to us.

So if you have, like I just mentioned, customer service – and, Jeremy, I’m selling a product and I’m a customer service representative and you call in and you have an issue with your product, and I have to ask you for your name and your phone number, and your account number, and what company are you with, what products are you talking about, do you have an invoice number. If I have to ask you all that information, and then you tell me what your issue is and I have to route you to another service technician, and I have no way to transfer all of that information over to them, so you have to start over. And then you ask that service technician, by the way, I want a status; I called in three weeks ago, I had some additional issues, can you give me an update, and they have no way to look at that. That doesn’t mean that your service people aren’t working enough; it means that you have a process that has some gaps in it. So you have to be able to identify that and it comes down to culture and allowing people to be honest about it and not feel like they need to make things seem better than they are.

(Jeremy Cross)  Well, that also seems like it goes back to point number one, which is to eliminate friction. If you’re asking me to repeat everything that I said to the previous rep or you’re asking for all of these points of information and I have to tell my story three different times to try to get a resolution, that’s friction. That’s enough for me to hang up the phone and find somebody else who can provide me an experience that does not have that same level of friction.

(Ryan Kubec) For sure.

(Jeremy Cross) So then a third one that comes to mind, and I’ll share with you what I visualize when I think of this, is trying too hard. Companies that simply try too hard in order to create that customer experience or customer relationship. It’s almost like going on a date and trying too hard. You know, it’s blatant; it’s out there.

But what comes to my mind when I think of trying too hard, I think of the template for creating any local car dealership commercial. Think of the stereotypical local car dealership commercial — not the national ones, because the national ones are nice and polished.

(Ryan Kubec) Yeah, they’re all shot in Colorado.

(Jeremy Cross) Exactly. Everything shot in Colorado or California. But I’m talking about the local ones. That’s what comes to mind when I think of trying too hard, is that you’re not getting me onto your lot using a white glove and the experience of really being taken care of. There’s this super cheesy factor to it. And that’s what comes to mind when I think of companies trying too hard when it comes down to creating customer experience.

(Ryan Kubec) Yes. I mean, that comes to mind, too. You know, as you were saying that I was thinking of Kenny Powers, I was thinking of a local dealership where I’m from that the guy always dresses up like a cowboy. You know, I guess there’s an aspect of trying too hard versus trying to be memorable. And, I remember the name of that dealership because their commercials are so cheesy.

(Jeremy Cross) But would you go there?

(Ryan Kubec) I haven’t; and I’ve bought cars since I’ve seen the commercials. So that’s actually a good lead in to, you know, there is a blend between your promotion, your marketing, your advertising and customer experience. But they’re not completely the same. So you may have one way that you want to promote and advertise your business, and if cheesy is your factor, then it is what it is. But you’ve got to make sure that you back that up. Once people get on that lot, it can’t look as cheesy and low budget as those commercials. You’ve got to make sure that people feel like they’re going to be taken care of and that you’re professional.

Where I see people trying too hard is when they want to improve customer experience across the board. So they say, customer service people, find out what improvements you want to make, and you make those improvements, and you improve your customer experience. And marketing team, you guys work together and improve that customer experience. And IT team, improve the customer experience; e-commerce and digital team, you go improve the website. And, third-party consulting firm that we’re working with to build our mobile application, you go improve that experience.

So then you have slightly improved different siloed experiences across the board. And again, the net experience is not great, because it’s different. So, where people say, we take this seriously and we’ve got all of our teams looking at how they can improve customer experience, that’s a great first step.

Now you need to aggregate that up and have a team or an ad hoc committee that’s focused on customer experience that can make some of those decisions and make sure that that end-to-end customer journey is consistent. So when you log on to the website, it doesn’t look different on your laptop than it does when you pull it up on your phone. And that should look very similar and play well with the mobile app, if you do have one for your business, and your service team should have access to data that I’ve already given you.

And that’s the expectation customers. If I call — like our service example — Jeremy, you call because you’re one of my customers. You’ve bought my products before. You’re calling to schedule a repair or some type of service rep to come out. I should already know who you are. If I’ve got your phone number that should be linked to your customer account. I should be able to see what are your recent orders, what’s in process. What’s your open balance. Do you have any past service tickets. When was the last time you called. That’s the bare minimum of what’s expected from service. Now, how you take that to the next level is improving that process throughout, making sure that others in your enterprise have access to that information, as well.

(Jeremy Cross) So these are just three examples of barriers that can get in the way of creating a memorable, effective customer experience. And, just as a recap here, eliminate friction. If there’s friction, you’re not going to be able to get to that core of creating a memorable customer experience.

Secondly, make sure that you’re asking questions; you’re asking the right questions, and that you are asking questions, period. And then the third thing that we’ve just touched on is trying too hard. Make sure everybody is aligned internally, make sure that if customer experience is what you want to be focusing on, everybody is working in harmony. You can’t have multiple teams with different directives trying too hard to create this memorable experience, because it’s not going to happen.

Would you agree there?

(Ryan Kubec) Yeah.  It’s interesting that we picked these three to highlight today, because they all kind of align, and we did a good job highlighting what these barriers are. You know, the next question is how do we overcome these barriers or reduce them or find ways around them? And these actually all play together really well. So customer friction is ultimately what you’re trying to reduce.

How do you do that? Well, you have to have the right questions. You have to have the right information from your customers to know where that friction is and what’s important to them.

I mean, there may be pieces where you say, “Ah, this is a part that takes customers extra time.” You know, the biggest headache is when they have to register and create a profile on our website — how can we reduce that? Maybe your customers don’t care about that; that’s just expected because that’s what they have to do on every site that they register on. So that’s not an area that you need to fix.

So knowing what’s important to the customer, it comes down to that second point of asking the right questions. That’s going to let you know really what you need to fix. And getting a good view of that. There are a lot of experts in the customer experience space who’ve been doing it longer than I have, and they will often say you need to build out your customer experience, customer journey maps, customer maps — however they want to phrase it, depending on who’s saying it.

But really what that is, is what’s the first point of contact when you get a brand-new customer, and what does that path look like for them if they’re going to place an order? What does that path look like if they’re going to change an order? What does that path look like if they’re going to create a return, or they have a complaint, or they need some type of service request; and then having folks actually go in and see the role of that customer to be able to say, how easy was that for you to do? So getting focus groups, getting feedback from your customers allows you to do that.

And then when you go into fixing that, when we get to the trying too hard, making sure you’re doing that in a unified way. That you have everyone on board — your service team, your marketing team, your sales folks, your IT team — however you have that broken out. And everyone’s aligned, at least in what their expectations are, so that at the end of the day, no one is pointing fingers saying, this friction is your fault. Because a process is a process.

The end goal needs to be how can we make sure that we are easy to do business with so our customers want to come back. That they look forward to, “Hey, Wednesday is the day that I have to place orders with Jeremy,” because I’m a buyer for a company and all of the orders I have to get placed for whatever components I’m buying, I have to buy from you on Wednesday. Wednesday is the day I look forward to because it’s going to be easy to do my job. But Thursday and Friday, I’m working with other vendors, buying other components, and it’s a nightmare. I know that I’m going to have to sit on the phone, I’m going to get put on hold then get routed to five different people. They’re going to ask me for information I might not have at all.

And that is where you start to steal competitor’s business. Because they’re going to say, why am I only enjoying my Wednesday? And Thursday and Friday vendors, who else is out in the market space that maybe doesn’t offer such a miserable customer experience? So not trying to solve every single problem, but finding out which ones are the most impactful to your customers and getting those fixed first.

(Jeremy Cross) All right. So we hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode of the podcast where we have been trying to talk about things that get in the way of creating an effective or memorable customer experience. Thanks for listening, and we will see you here in a few weeks on our next episode.

(Ryan Kubec) Yeah. Thank you.


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