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Enterprise Rent-A-Car: simple service, great customer experience

You wouldn’t think that the simple act of hiring a car would be such a great customer experience would you? But it is, and it was. Not just once but consistently 3 times in a row. Now not many companies can boast of that.

It’s been a long time since I last needed to hire a car and on this occasion I certainly hadn’t planned to.

In short, my car broke down on the A1 just outside of Sunderland on the way to see a client. After being recovered from the roadside I was taken to a local garage in a small village called Sedgefield, who initially were optimistic about being able to repair my car the very same day. However, that turned out not to be the case and what was originally suspected to be a water leak was actually a head gasket failure! No quick (or cheap) fix here then.

Library Digital Photo by Paul Blount 2005 GAS

By the time this was diagnosed it was about 5pm, having been recovered about 11am and I need to get back home in order to get to work the next day and the fastest way I guessed was to hire a car which I could then use the day after.

The garage gave me several numbers and I settled on calling Enterprise and got through to the local depot.

“Can you deliver a hire car to me please?”

“No sorry we don’t deliver”

My heart sunk and I started to conjure up visions of being stuck in a small village for the night with little prospect of getting home at all.

“But we can come and pick you up?

Result! And true to their word they did. The Enterprise staff that arrived were friendly and chatty despite it being past 6pm. By 7pm I was in a hire car and on my way back home much to my relief.

elogo1Over the course of the next 4 weeks, I hired from Enterprise a further two times, based on how easy it was the first time and how good it had felt for them to help me out when I most needed it. Ok so that’s what they do as a business, but they really delivered and didn’t add to my stress and frustration on that long day when my car had failed.

On each occasion, the hire experience was as good as it was the first time. Friendly staff, an easy and efficient process and a first class pick up service that was consistent.

On each occasion, they asked me if they could have done anything better but they really couldn’t and it’s not often that I say that.

Simple service and a great customer experience. Would I recommend them? Absolutely. Now that’s how you build loyalty.

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Leading on Service

In a previous incarnation, I worked in the fleet and leasing industry. For the benefit of those people who are unfamiliar with it, as a company we provided fixed term finance to businesses who wanted to provide company cars to their employees (so lease rather than buy).

We then provided support services as required during the life of the contract, which could include maintenance, breakdown recovery, windscreen replacement, accident management and fuel cards as required. All the support services were provided by third party providers under agreement which was a common setup in the industry.

Cars

The industry itself is an interesting one in which, at the risk of generalisation, products and services are pretty much of a muchness. This in the main is due to the regulation around financial products and accounting principles for tax and how companies treat assets; on versus off balance sheet treatment, depreciation etc.

So contract hire (which is one of the most common products) is well, contract hire. Terms and conditions like up front deposits vary slightly between competitors but at its core, contract hire as supplied by most companies is exactly the same given the accounting and legislative rules.

The same goes for services. Breakdown cover is the same. It might be RAC or AA or Green Flag who actually turn up, but again at its core it’s the same service. It might be packaged slightly different, but nonetheless, it’s essentially the same

Differentiation was (and still is) difficult. Price was always a significant factor, followed by customer service, account management and in life support in addition to flexibility within customer contracts.

Reflecting back now with my customer experience perspective, there was no real equivalent in the fleet industry as, say, First Direct is to the financial services industry these days. No real standout leader that everyone aspired to be like, and who really delivered fantastic customer service.

We tried but were never really in the running. We were good at the basics, but we had inflexible IT and a company structure that promoted silo working practices which stood in the way of delivering a real stand out customer experience (sound familiar at all?).

We had competent people in customer services, of course, and across the business, but the business did first and foremost what was most important to itself, not the customer.

So it was refreshing to come across The Miles Consultancy, or TMC as they’re also known.

TMC logo on wall

They’re not a leasing company but they do stand toe to toe with others in the fleet industry as a service provider. As a relative ‘newbie’ into the industry, having only been launched in 2004 by its founder Paul Jackson, they are already punching above their weight both in terms of innovative products and an impressive customer line up but more interestingly (to me anyway) with their customer service delivery.

TMC by their own description are ‘Europe’s leading Fuel Card and Mileage Expense Management specialist’. Their products are already award winning having scooped Fleet World Magazine’s ‘Best Fleet Management Service 2014’ and I’m sure there will be more accolades to follow.

Their mileage capture solution for company car drivers is fully HMRC compliant in addition to providing customers with typical cost savings in the region of 25% which is big money for any fleet and especially if you’ve got hundreds or thousands of business drivers.

Petrol pump

They also have an app which drivers can use to capture mileage real time saving the need every week to fill in cumbersome and unwieldy (in my experience) mileage reimbursement forms.

The first thing you notice about TMC is that they’ve got a customer contact centre. ‘What’s different about that?’ I hear you say. Well nothing really until you look at most of TMC’s competitors. The norm is a web-based solution with no access to real people for help and support when it’s needed.

TMC’s customer service manager, Alison Hewis, says: “People want to call up and talk to a customer service advisor who knows their account and knows about their business. What we sell is not just a piece of software, it’s a whole service.”

And they do just that. However they’re not content with their service which they’re being as innovative towards developing that as they are towards their product offering.

Last year saw the launch of a new joint venture product, which is already leading to significant business growth, with both an expanding client list and employee roll call.

Barclaycard fuel card

However, TMC recognised themselves that this growth would bring challenges, including increased inbound and outbound contact. A challenge that if not handled well could seriously impact existing clients and the great levels of customer service they currently deliver. Many companies either fail to spot this impending challenge or act too slowly to avoid the inevitable drop in service levels which often arise when businesses grow or change.

This in turn gives rise to increased queries and complaints and in the worst case scenarios, customers defecting to competitors with the corresponding brand and reputational damage that accompanies it.

“Obviously, we are very protective of our high standard of service and we do not want anything to threaten it,” says Alison. “This led us to devise a Customer Experience Programme to ensure we are ready for the influx of new customers and drivers brought in by the new fuel and mileage service.”

The customer experience development programme has already seen a number of initiatives deployed around the business, with more planned for this year.

Activities focused on engaging employees through defining vision and values from the ground up, building knowledge and skills with customer agents through advanced training and engaging more proactively with customers and importantly ‘future proofing’ service levels and their customer experience through the ongoing growth period.

Vision and values

The fact that TMC acted before customers are adversely impacted, which would inevitably lead to customer dissatisfaction, speaks volumes about the high regard they have for their customers.

“The programme has been really valuable for us and for the experience of our customers. It builds on what we were already doing right and gives us a codified framework on which we can scale up our service in line with TMC’s growth,” explains Alison. “We’ve enhanced the effectiveness of our regular call-quality reviews, which look at the personal side of interactions as well as measuring how quickly we achieve the desired outcomes. We hold regular brainstorms and share knowledge so every colleague is able to handle any call efficiently.”

As if all this change and activity isn’t enough, they’ve just submitted their entry for the Fleet News 2015 Customer Service awards.

“We’ve got a good story to tell the judges, with excellent retention figures and testimonials to back it up. The great thing is that we are empowered and trusted by TMC, which makes a difference that customers obviously notice when they deal with us,” concludes Alison. Love customers

Sights are also set to compete out of industry in the UK Customer Experience Awards in the near future. A move which is both bold as it is brave as they’d be up against the best of the best. However, that’s where the ‘world class’ bar is set and TMC certainly aren’t ones for aiming low.

Article originally written for CXM – Customer Experience Magazine

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npower’s toxic customer satisfaction has got worse – no really it has.

It’s that time of year again – the Which? customer satisfaction reviews on utilities are out and it makes for predictable reading.

The full results and reviews can be found here, although I’ll give you the highlights here.

The reviews are based on scoring from 9,400 consumers at the back end of 2014 across UK utility providers and their customer satisfaction performance across a number of categories;   Which best buy

  • Customer Service
  • Value for Money
  • Accuracy and clarity of bills
  • Complaints
  • Helping you to save money

 

Performance in these areas gets combined to give a percentage score overall.

Top 3 performers are;

  1. ecotricity – 84%
  2. goodenergy – 82%
  3. Ebico – 81%

Bottom 3 are (ex Northern Ireland);

  • EDF – 49%
  • Scottish Power – 41%
  • npower – 35%

It probably comes as no surprise that the ‘big 6′ all feature in the bottom half of the table with two of the bottom 3 companies – npower and Scottish Power all current under investigation and sanction from Ofgem.

npower are currently under investigation for potential breaches to their licence on meter installs for larger non domestic clients and potential breeches in standards on final bills and complaint handling standards for consumers. Details are here.

Scottish Power for a regulator imposed financial penalty and investigation into standards around final bills. Again, details are here.

So not great all in all for these companies.

The Utility sector also scores lowest in the UKCSI out this month with an index of 70.9 versus the top performing Retail (non food) sector scoring 81.4. A gap that barely seems to be closing.

Toxic

More interesting is where npower are now compared to exactly two years ago when their new incoming MD, Paul Massara ‘committed to make his company the industry’s number one for customer experience by 2015′ – as reported in Utility week here. More interestingly, their score then was 39%, 4% better than it is now so rather than get better, they’ve actually got worse.

 

I blogged about it last year and whether in practical terms getting to number one in two years could actually be done. If you want to read the original blog post it’s here, but the Which survey says it all really.

As an aside, while I was researching this blog, I came across an online petition, branded by Which? which calls for a ‘Fix the big 6′ campaign in a ‘broken energy market’. It’s currently got just short of 60,000 signatures…

 

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State of the Nation: UKCSI results are out and it’s not pretty!

The most recent results of the UKCSI are out this month and they don’t make for good reading as to the state of the nation for UK Customer Experience.

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The executive summary can be found here if you want to read it but I’ll cover the key highlights and trends for you here.

  • Customer satisfaction in the UK has now dropped for the fourth consecutive period to the lowest point since July 2010.
  • Only 33 out of 196 organisation have recorded an increase in the last 6 month period
  • Only 2 from 13 industry sectors have improved; Utilities and Banks and Building Societies
  • 3 water companies have shown the largest increases in customer satisfaction by any organisation in the measure; Southern Water, Yorkshire Water and United Utilities
  • John Lewis tops the league table overall, as does the Retail (non food) sector, followed by the Retail Food sector with Ocado scoring highest. John Lewis logo
  • Amazon and First Direct come in joint second
  • Bringing up the rear is the Utilities Sector with Public Services second from bottom
  • The 18-24 age group is least satisfied overall, as are people based in the South East. The over 65s are most satisfied as are people living in Wales
  • Aldi and Lidl continue to dominate the Retail Food sector both on customer satisfaction and annual sales according to the Kantar World panel. All the other majors, apart from Asda and Waitrose saw negative sales growth.
  • At a more granular level, only 2 out of 28 metrics that make up the UKCSI have improved in customer’s eyes; ‘outcome of complaint’ and ‘on time delivery’

Not great news to start the New Year, but not really a surprise as I outlined in my last blog post. So what’s going on?

Well this obviously has significant ramifications for UK businesses on many levels and reflects a number of changing factors which include the economic environment, continued and rapid increases in customer expectation and the inability of organisations to keep pace, in part marked by a lack of investment in infrastructure, digital technology and employee engagement.

Customers want increasingly personalised services and businesses are failing to deliver. Those that are more agile, responsive and innovative are now stealing the lead both in customers’ perception, market share and also on the balance sheet.

Consistency, always has and will continue to play a significant role in delivering a great customer experience. When looking across the 5 service components (professionalism, quality & efficiency, ease of doing business, problem solving and timeliness) John Lewis and First Direct feature in the top 5 organisations in all categories. That’s consistent and systemic customer experience delivery.

So where now? Well I don’t think, this decline in results is at the bottom just yet unfortunately. Businesses always have a choice as to what to do next. Some focus on Hard workshort terms results and quick fixes. Others take the more strategic, longer view in which the customer is front and centre as a priority. Benchmarking, measurement, insight and leadership should command more attention this year combined with a fierce determination to deliver more consistently for customers. It’s now time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and stop talking.

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Sack all the cleaners

Before we start let me just clarify that I’m not about to call for the wholesales removal of cleaners from their current employment. Nothing of the sort. But I do want to talk about empowerment and ownership in relation to the customer experience. However, let me explain the cleaners reference though.

Solidarity with cleaners

At Disney, they obviously have cleaners which probably comes as no surprise, and they’re as integral as playing a part in the customer experience as all the other ‘cast members’ are. However it doesn’t end there. The customer experience, as taught thoroughly to cast members through the Disney Institute is everyone’s responsibility and everyone plays a role in the systems and processes that support consistently exceptional customer experiences.

To this end, everyone is expected to pick rubbish up the moment they see it, rather than wait for the cleaners to do it. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Litter doesn’t feature in fairy stories and nor does it feature at Disney Land. It’s immediately taken out of the equation restoring the immediate environment back to the fairy tale landscape it was to start with.

Disney castle

To me this, says as much about culture as it does about systems and processes and who’s ultimately responsible for picking the litter up. The answer of course is that everyone is. But the culture also says, “we’re all responsible for the customer experience, and we’re all empowered to act in a way that ensures the customer’s experience stays great each and every time”

There’s no aspect of the culture that supports the ” it’s not my job to pick up the litter, that’s the cleaners job” type mentality. Rather it’s the culture that says “we can all have a positive impact on the customer through the way we act and behave”. That’s a seriously strong set of value to operate by.

Compare that to many businesses, both large and small, where it’s self evident that they have’t got anything near the Disney approach to culture. Where instead, the culture supports and reinforces (deliberately or otherwise) the opposite to Disney. I’ve heard this first hand “I’m not calling the customer because that’s not my job. The customer cervices team should do it” or “I’m not in customer services.”

Let me say this. Firstly we’re all in customer services, (like we’re all in sales as Dan Pink writes) whether we like it or not.

Disney institute

Secondly, it doesn’t matter who makes the call (or picks the litter up) as long as it’s done as quickly and efficiently as possible to benefit the customer.

But often, business culture doesn’t support this for many reasons; a silo culture, lack of suitably strong values that people don’t take ownership of, a lack of responsibility and leadership to name but a few.

But it can be done and Disney continue to prove it and the template is there to be copied and adapted to fit; leadership, culture and values delivered through systems and process that enable and empower people, rather than restrict or constrict them.

You don’t need to be the scale or have the budgets of Disney to delivery a Disney- esque experience though. With the right framework in place, with the right people (your own team of ‘incredibles’, passion and energy to deliver a superior operation, and a few ‘believers’ to drive the customer experience vision you could create your own version of the Disney experience. incredibles

How about putting that at the top of your ‘to do’ list for Monday? (and please don’t sack any cleaners!)

 

 

 

 

Ownership, empowerment, responsibility of the customer experience by everyone not just customer facing teams.

Litter at Disney

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Is ‘easy’ the new driver of customer loyalty?

Customers that get ‘easy to do business with’ types of experiences are significantly more likely to return than those that don’t. Sounds common sense doesn’t it and yet some businesses seems to go out of their way to do the opposite.

EinsteinLooking back at the July results of the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, the 3 most popular adjectives used by customers to describe their experiences overall were “easy”, “friendly” and “helpful”. Businesses that deliver on this have, overall, higher levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty and recommendation which lead to higher sales and profitability.

This approach to ‘easy’ is being further developed by BT of all organsiations and championed by Dr Nicola Millard who has the very funky job title of ‘futurologist’. She was interviewed in August by Adrian Swinscoe for his RARE business podcast which I’d recommend a listen if you get a chance.

The irony isn’t lost on BT though who, by their own admission are the first to admit that they’re not the easiest company to do business with!

Shouting down phone

In the interview, Nicola talks about having developed a concept called ‘customer easy’ which uses a ‘net easy score’ as a means of understanding how easy it is for customers to deal with BT in their consumer business.

This isn’t a new concept though, as the understanding that ease and (lack of) effort are important components of great customer experiences and both the thinking and research on this has been around for at least the last 4-5 years or so.

Whilst concepts are great, organisations need a pragmatic way to understand how well they’re applying the customer easy concept on a day to day basis. Hence the customer easy metric was born.

By her own claims, Nicola says they ‘highjacked’ the net promoter score to come up with the net easy metric but that’s not all they’ve done.

metrics

Rather than using the traditional ten point scale of 1-10, or 0-10 with net promoter, Nicola uses a simple 3 point scale of +1, 0 or -1.

This simplified scale could be viewed as heresy by some research or net promoter purists but it’s an interesting approach and creates very bi-polar results. Arguably though, it’s definitely simple to complete from the customer’s perspective.

Customers score +1 for easy, -1 for difficult and 0 for neither, or for having no real opinion.

BT’s initial findings from their own data, correlate with the data from the UKCSI. Easy drives net promoter and customer loyalty scores and therefore recommendation, and customers who find it difficult to do business are more likely to defect.

BT look at ease by channel, so post versus phone versus web chat, with web chat coming out top.

They can also look at the impact of service design changes and see the result on customers by simplifying IVR routing for example. Something that BT have always seemed to have over complicated in the past so that’s welcome news to BT customers I would imagine.

Whether you like the net easy metric or not, or agree with the scale it uses, anything that businesses use to better understand and improve the customer experience is a positive things and if that results in shorter IVRs then I’m all for that.

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Indifference or inertia isn’t customer loyalty

After sending an unrecognised 0808 telephone number to voicemail recently I foolishly answered the phone after the third or fourth call.

As I suspected, it was my mobile phone network provider who initially claimed they were calling to ‘thank me for my loyalty!’

mobile globe

They then went on to review my account with them, tariff and data usage etc which I monitor myself anyway. After concluding that there wasn’t an opportunity to sell me additional services (well that’s what the cynic in me thought), they then thanked me again for my loyalty which got me thinking. Am I really loyal in the true context of the word?

First stop was google then the dictionary.

Loyalty: Allegiance, fealty, fidelity, faithfulness, constancy.

Well I’ve certainly been constant. I’ve been with the same provider for the last 3 years which in the mobile telecoms industry might seem like a life time!

Do I have an allegiance to them? Not really. Faithfull? Not really a word I’d use to describe my relationship with a mobile phone carrier to be honest.

iphone

The last 3 years have, in fairness, been trouble free. My handset works but that’s down to Apple, not the carrier. I’ve never had a problem on my account or with my billing. They bill on time and accurately but that’s what I would expect them to be able to do.

But in customer experience loyalty terms, would I recommend them? I’m not sure I would to be honest. Not because any aspect of their service has been poor because it hasn’t, but they’ve just done what I expected them to do from the outset. Nothing more, nothing less and that’s not enough to generate loyalty between customers and businesses. In this respect, you could say I’m transactionally attached, but there’s no emotional attachment.

The reasons I haven’t swapped provider are two fold. Firstly there’s the fact that it all works as it should do, which again is what I expected it to do so they’ve met my expectation but not exceeded it. So I’m satisfied yes, but not highly satisfied. Out of 10, I’d say I’d score them a 7 or 8 in customer satisfaction terms.

Secondly they’ve never given me a reason to change. I’ve never been dissatisfied with them.

However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m loyal. If another carrier approached me with a better deal I’d definitely consider it so I’m not loyal in that respect. I’m not actively looking though because I don’t currently need to. For me to be loyal, I’d need to score them at least a 9, or even 10 out of 10.

But I don’t think it’s fair to claim that I’m a loyal customer and this is where both businesses and brands can become complacent because I’m really a customer waiting to defect and it’s probably only a matter of time. Whilst, some businesses would kill to get customer satisfaction scores of 8 out of 10, it’s not enough to build loyalty.

Apple tattoo

What businesses should be looking to do is to build customer loyalty by providing over and above their core offering, building engagement through interaction with customers and looking for opportunities to go above and beyond by anticipating customer needs and aiming for those 9 and 10 out of 10 scores.

Only then can businesses build on highly satisfied customers rather than those that are ‘just satisfied’ which is the category I’d put myself in with my provider.

This in part is why building customer loyalty is so difficult if your customer service, your product or offering doesn’t standout. If it’s just ok, or even good it’s probably not enough.

 

 

 

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Honesty, expectations and reality

Amongst Richard Branson’s many quotes that have been published over the years, my most favourite has always been this one; “Customer service is about attention to detail and communication. Neither of which are difficult so naturally they’re the first things we forget!”

It’s my favourite because he’s right.    usain-bolt-richard-branson-944438633

I worked with a bank a while ago who measured customer satisfaction every year with their business customers who were mainly small and medium size enterprises. The previous year’s survey had highlighted a very painful customer issue which the bank was already aware of. It was their online customer banking portal that business customers used to transact on their accounts.

And when I mean painful, it was excruciatingly painful for customers. If they were able to log on, which at peak times during the day, they mostly couldn’t, the portal often crashed, was very slow to use and overall wasn’t a great customer experience. You could sense the frustration in the customer feedback that came with the survey.

I specifically remember one comment from a customer who used the portal to pay employee wages. The lady indicated how she had to wait until midnight each month to pay the wages, to ensure she could get onto the portal when very few others were trying to use it and to minimise the risk of it crashing and her having to start all over again!

Online banking

When we measured customer satisfaction the following year, the same issue came up again and not surprisingly. The IT project that was running behind the scenes to build a new online customer portal had yet to be delivered and had faced delays to the original deadline due to a change in provider. It was running about 12 months behind and was already over budget.

Apart from these obvious issues, it was clear from the customer feedback in the second year that the bank hadn’t kept them informed of the project progress (or lack of) or even attempted to manage customer expectation as to when the solution would be delivered.

Again a memorable comment from a customer went along the lines of “we told you about this last year and you’ve done nothing about it. So you are either just ignoring us or you just don’t care!” Either way a scathing observation.

However in reality, the bank was doing something about it based on customer feedback. What it wasn’t doing though, was managing customer expectation by communicating with them at all. Not even irregularly.

SONY DSC

Now arguably, it could be said that the bank didn’t want this embarrassing situation made public knowledge, but by not doing so, it wasn’t exactly putting customers first and setting the right expectation. The bank were dammed either way in reality and it was more about damage limitation. Say nothing – customers become frustrated and leave, which was already a real possibility. Say something, and be potentially ridiculed by competitors and customers may still also leave.

However, I personally think they missed a massive opportunity to engage with customers, in addition to failing to effectively manage customer expectation. Even the Bank staff were fed up with hearing the same complaints from customers, but instead the Bank simply said nothing.  A frustrating situation for all concerned, but an entirely preventable one if they’d just talked to their customers and explained.

Sound simple? It should be.

I bet they’d have got more ‘brownie points’ and goodwill back, if they had communicated with customers despite the project being delayed. Don’t you?

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Slides, friction and customer experience

I remember a couple of instances when I was young, when my Mum polished the slide in our local park. She actually took a duster and a can of polish in her bag along to the park when we played. Slide

The slide itself was really high to start with, probably because in part I was quite small at the time being about 6 or 7 years of age. But it certainly seemed high enough at the time. An all metal thing it was with wrought iron steps and a shiny and literally ‘polished’ slide surface. Just standing on the top step was enough to give you butterflies, let alone the sliding experience that was to follow especially after my Mum had been busy with the Mr Sheen!

It was a great experience. Fast, thrilling and without friction to slow me or my friends down and one we could repeat again and again until tea time.

It’s the same with customer experience. The more ‘friction’ in a business process, and the more resistance that a customer encounters, then the less satisfying the customer experience will be overall. The greater the number of steps the customer has to go through or the more forms they have to fill out or boxes to fill in on a web page, then the higher the perceived level of effort will be from the customer’s perspective, irrespective of what the actual level of effort is in reality. MrSheen

This raises the probability that the customer experience will be less than desirable, if indeed they actually complete the process in the first place. If they do actually get through the process, will they think that is was too difficult and so be unlikely to return and buy again?

Recent figures suggest online shopping cart abandonments now reach into the billions of pounds each year and is rising steadily, in part due to the fact that checkout processes create way too much friction for customers. That’s a significant loss to business given the amount of time, effort and money invested in getting customers to a website in the first place. Even instore, abandoned purchase rates are high because customers feel they have to queue for too long before being able to pay.

So in order to reduce friction and improve the customer experience, there’s a number of options available;

1. Gather feedback around customer effort directly from customers. Get an understanding of how much effort customers have to go to in order to buy your products or use your services and at each steps of their journey.

2. Where customers spend a large amount of effort, look at ways to simplify the process by reducing the number of steps customers have to go to or by speeding up the overall time the process takes to complete. Always try and see and experience how processes work from the customer’s perspective.

3. Map the customer journey. Ensure that business processes are aligned to the customer journey and that it’s as effortless and frictionless as is realistically and commercial viable for you.

Simple? It should be. Reduce friction, improve the customer experience. Happy sliding!

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Can you value and recommend a product you never use?

Not many people I know like having to pay car insurance. It’s perceived as a necessary evil and an additional expense and cost. I understand why we need it, but it always feels like an additional tax. And it’s not even a remotely glamorous or exciting purchase now is it? No insurance is.  Car crash

Like many insurance products, it sits in the background and you only get to know if it actually works, when you have to make a claim. Until this situation arises, you don’t actually know if the product you bought up to 12 months ago, will do what you need it to, when you need it,  in an easy and effortless way.

Assuming it does all work, the resulting perception of it’s inherent value is probably high. If the claim was problematic and protracted though or didn’t go to plan, then the resulting perception of value will likely be low.

Given, I’ve not had to make a claim (touch wood!) since renewing my policy in January this year, I was surprised to receive an email yesterday asking me ‘rate my car insurance’ and asking me whether I’d ‘recommend them’.

Always the ‘geek’ when I get stuff like this through, I couldn’t help but click on the link for the short questionnaire, powered by reevo the review site.

True to their word, it was indeed short. 3 sections on ‘rate your product’, ‘rate the provider’ and a final section to add personal details on me, if I so wanted.

However, within the product section, there were 3 questions;

  1. Ease of applicationInsurance claim form
  2. Value for money
  3. Overall rating

I could answer number 1 no problem, but I couldn’t answer 2 or 3 which is where this very well intended attempt to gather customer feedback stalled and then crashed in flames. If I answer question 1, it’s based on my actual experience. If I answer 2 and 3, given I’ve never made a claim it would be opinion, rather than based on my experience and whilst I could do that, how do I know whether my policy is actually good value for money, never having used it? I know how much it cost but that’s not the same thing. And if I never use it, will I ever appreciate the potential value in it?

The second section on the supplier was similar.

  1. Would I buy from them again?
  2. If I contacted customer services, was my query handled effectively?
  3. How likely would I be to recommend them to a friend?

If I was honest, my answers would be;    Recommend image

  1. It depends (based on price if I never make a claim, or how well my claim was handled if I have one which to date I haven’t)
  2. No
  3. It depends (again, if I never make a claim, what am I recommending apart from price in the main?)

Whilst I’m all for businesses and organisations seeking proactive feedback on customer experience with a view to improving it, this could be done in a much more valuable way.

Rather than the Insurer seeking blanket feedback from all customers, whether they’ve had a claim or not, they should separate customers to get feedback on different parts of the insurance life cycle; i.e. purchase, in life, claims handling, repurchase

  • For customers who have never claimed, they should seek feedback on the initial upfront processes (like ease of application) and any communication in life since the product was purchased.
  • For customers who have had to make a claim, focus on the claims handling experience and their likelihood to recommend and repurchase as a result of the way the claim was handled.

It’s a subtle difference and slight change of approach, but one which would generate more feedback and insight from customers which the insurer could then use to improve the whole insurance life cycle.

They might even go some way to making it a more glamorous purchase experience in the future!