Faster isn’t always better – delivering value in customer experiences

By / November 13, 2017

Fast does not equal best

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Forrester’s CX Forum in San Francisco.  The theme this year was Human + Machine and the two-day event featured a great mix of customer experience professionals from a variety of industries, with speakers from firms including eBay, Slack, Hulu, Wells Fargo and Pinterest. 

I walked away with several examples that articulate the value of a customer experience mindset; examples of how CX methods and tools are driving value for customers and business results.  In a series of blog posts, I’ll share some of the most interesting stories I took away from the CXSF Forum.  I hope these stories will help CX professionals looking to drive change in their organizations.

Before applying technology to your customer experience, do some research to explore your options.

In his keynote presentation, Julio Hernandez of KPMG told a story about US fast food chain Chick-fil-A that really resonated with me.

Chick-fil-A had a problem of success. In the US, the revenue per restaurant is approximately 3-4 times that of a comparable McDonald’s location, and a recent survey conducted by Foursquare determined that it’s now America’s most popular fast-food chain. Chick-fil-A’s popularity was such that they began to notice a problem with their drive-thru service — the wait-times were growing longer and experience scores were poor.

The company decided to tackle this problem head-on and invested a lot of time and money toward finding a solution. Initially, they hoped that technology could help improve the customer experience and ultimately increase retention rates. They believed that several new technologies such as voice recognition software or pre-ordering mobile devices apps might make a difference. However, they eventually landed on a solution that is likely not one you would have expected from a fast-food chain.

Instead of trying to make the experience faster, focus on making the experience better.

To boost their experience scores, they focused on giving customers more of what they valued in the brand. It turns out, what Chick-fil-A customers value most are their interaction with employees; for example, servers saying it was “My pleasure” instead of “You’re welcome”, and calling customers by their names instead of their order number.

Chick-fil-A’s solution was to bring employees out from behind the drive-thru window during busy times to engage with customers in the lineup. Employees have access to tablets that allow them to approach cars and engage in a face-to-face interaction with customers as they wait. This new approach has not shortened the wait-times at the drive-thru, but it has made the experience more memorable and because of that customer experience ratings have improved.

To improve a customer experience, it is important to understand the value being delivered to your customers.

We’ve seen similar stories play out in our work at Bridgeable, for example, when we were engaged by a major national telecom company to rethink their billing experience.

In that project, we created two prototypes. The first allowed customers to pay their bills with one-click, making the process faster and more convenient. The second let customers know how the bill differed from their usual usage patterns and over a period of time, if overages were constant, would recommend a better plan for the customer.

We gathered feedback on both prototypes by allowing clients to experience what it would be like to use them. It turns out that the prototype customers valued the most was not the one that made the billing experience faster, but the one that analyzed their behaviour and let them know what was out of the norm.

The second prototype had a higher impact on their perception of the billing experience. It didn’t speed up the service or reduce effort but it did connect with something highly valued by customers.  It demonstrated a deeper understanding of their cell phone behaviour, helping them to manage this expense not just pay it.

The key takeaway — if you’re working to improve a customer experience, it is important to understand the value being delivered to your customers, and when it comes to customer satisfaction, focus on creating better experiences, not necessarily faster ones.


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