How to Avoid Hidden Disasters in Customer Experience Design

by Jeannie Walters

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Ever have a sneaking suspicion something just isn’t right, but you don’t know how to fix it? Is that happening with your organization’s customer experience design for service delivery?

Lately, I’m seeing a lot of good intentions gone awry with customer experience. And a lot of leaders and followers defending the INTENTIONS of the design, instead of dealing with the reality of the situation.

Your customer experience design needs work!

Allow me to share a few recent examples from my consulting and speaking work, and see if you recognize anything in your organization.

1. “But, Jeannie, the approval for this process took 18 months! It would be so embarrassing if we had to change it.”

I call this one the “but we tried syndrome.” In this particular case, the process to steamline B2B customer billing had completely backfired:

  • Customers suddenly received a one-page bill with cryptic acronyms, instead of the lengthy, detailed invoice they’d grown to expect.
  • The invoicing team correctly identified the problem: customers had trouble understanding their complex bills.
  • The invoicing team incorrectly deployed the solution: using acronyms to shorten the length of the bill didn’t solve the confusion!
  • An internal team created these acronyms, and even field tested them a bit with customer groups.
  • Focus groups and random survey results led to confidence in this solution.

But once several thousand invoices were sent without enough communication, the service calls increased and the frustration grew.

It’s time to regroup and find another solution to the identified problem.

[Tweet “”‘But we tried’ isn’t a good reason to keep something that’s broken for your customers.” @jeanniecw”]

2. “Our customers used to love us, so we are banking on them loving us through this challenging time.”

I call this one the “love the one you’re with myth.”

Once upon a time, your customers DID love you. They loved your innovation. They loved your disruptor status. And they even loved your scrappy approach to business.

But ten years later? It’s not so cute anymore because there are other disruptive innovators wooing these customers away. It’s time to stop living in the past!

This is a myth that we tell ourselves because it used to be easier. It was so easy when our customers would advocate for us at every turn. It was so easy to feel like the underdog winning.

It’s not supposed to be that easy forever. It’s time to innovate. And quickly! Show your customers your love through thoughtful customer experience design, don’t just bank on it from them.

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3. “Let’s optimize our customer experience design for Loyal Loretta. That’s who our ideal customer is.”

Something I often say to my clients – think of your WORST customer on his or her WORST day.

I call designing just the ideal experience for customers “the Pollyanna Problem.” What happens to a great customer when they have tons of trust built up with you is totally different than what happens when Grumpy Gus has a bad experience after a bad day.

It’s time to prepare for the worst case scenarios, not just the happy idealistic ones. This is when you’ll really discover how to be ready for the hiccups that are bound to happen, even with your best customer.

It’s time to face the facts about your customer experience design.

If your organization is guilty of one (or more!) of these, you can’t keep saying you’re doing your best for customers.


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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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