Sorry…That’s Not What Our System Says…

February 8, 2018

by Carla Johnson

I went to my local library yesterday to use their production studio to make a higher-quality voiceover recording than I could do on my laptop.

My schedule’s tight so I reserved the room online ahead of time.

I checked in with the woman behind the desk when I got to the library. She checked the schedule and got a confused look on her face. Finally, she told me to say I wasn’t down on the schedule for the room.

I told her I made the reservation online and showed her my confirmation email.

“Sorry…that’s not what the system says…”  she said.

I left, irritated, and now in a pinch.

Last fall I volunteered to take a later option on an overbooked flight. I had the flexibility and was happy to give up my seat to someone who really needed to get where they were going.

The airline gave me the voucher for $800, which was good for a year.

I planned to use it to book a trip for my daughter and me to visit family. When I tried to input the voucher number, the online reservation system said it was no longer valid.

I called the airline customer service line for help. I explained my situation and they looked up my voucher number. The gentleman told me it had already been used. I told him the full amount should still be available because this was the first time I tried to make a reservation with it.

“Sorry…that’s not what the system says…” he informed me.

Blaming the system

I take care as much of life as I can online. I shop online. I make restaurant, airline and movie reservations online.

You probably do the same.

We’re busy people and we want to take care of things as efficiently as possible. Companies want processes automated so they’re efficient for them, too.

But it seems our mutual quest for “efficient” leaves companies and customers in very different worlds.

Customers want an efficient system that lets them accomplish their task in as short as time as possible. It needs to deliver value. And if it’s delightful, too, that’s a bonus.

Companies want an efficient system that handles transactions. They want the shortest possible route from interest to revenue.

What a company values isn’t the same as what a customer values. And that’s where customer experience design falls short. It’s based on the strategy of how to generate more revenue through an experience rather than how to better serve customers through a more valuable experience.

A system will never do that on its own.

The impact of the cumulative effect

There’s saying about the devil in the detail.

This is an old phrase that means that something might seem simple at first, but it takes more time and effort to complete than a person would expect.

When you’re mapping your customer experience, don’t just map touchpoints. Look at the potential emotions a customer may feel if a critical interaction goes really well or really bad. Many times companies overlook these as not being important enough to make sure they turn out well. But these are the things customers find the most frustrating.

If you look at the balance between the number of customers who quit doing business with a brand, the number who got fed-up from all the little things far outweighs those who experienced a major fail.

Repeatedly falling short on the many little things that have emotional meaning for customers tells them that you just don’t care. That’s how I felt about something as small as a library visit and as big as buying a seat on an airline.

And the problem is that in the world of business, even the grandest aspirations hinge on the successful execution of the smallest components.

The next time you’re tempted to overlook the small details of whatever you’re working on – whether that’s a technology for a digital interaction or something as simple as a well-thought-out meeting agenda, remember this: How you do the little things determines how you deliver the big things. No grand experience ever came from blowing off the details.

Are you interested in mapping your customer journey so you can understand their needs, and where and when you can deliver value? Contact me and let’s talk about how we can help. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, and  Twitter, and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Photo credit: Pixaby

About Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands hasn’t gone unnoticed and the latest of her seven books, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketingsets the benchmark for a new era in marketing. Named one of the top 50 women in marketing and the chair of the ANA’s Business Marketing Association, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking.

Today, Carla travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.