Improve the Experience by Asking the Impossible Questions

by Jeannie Walters

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We know we need to improve the experience to keep customers coming back and referring others. But what holds most of us back? Why do we make things more difficult?

improve the experience

We believe we are living in a world of limitations.

We miss many golden opportunities to improve the experience for the same reason. “We can’t do that because it would be impossible.”

  • “It” might be a total revamping of your IT, legal or logistical operations in response to a frequent request that would improve the overall experience.
  • Maybe “it”means empowering your employees to solve your customers’ problems faster and without approval.
  • Or maybe “it” is about finding time in an already time-crunched world to engage with your customers by inviting a dialogue.

But “it” means asking hard questions and ignoring your current limitations.

Ask the impossible questions, and ask again.

Throw out the “but we can’t because” excuses and allow yourself to think big. Start asking those “impossible” questions you aren’t allowing yourself to ask today.

Here are some questions we should all be asking frequently:

1. How can we address the biggest obstacles to a greater experience?

We see a lot of obstacles around regulations, legal processes, infrastructure, and industry standards. It’s typical for even great leaders to let these things drag the customer experience down without a fight. But companies like Virgin, Capital One and Humana have found ways to make these moments shine. Stop dismissing your obstacle as part of “the way it’s done. Be the first to make it more convenient, easier to understand, or even enjoyable!

123: CXPA Live, Regulated Industry Challenges

2. What sort of experience would make them talk to all their friends?

Buying insurance or switching VOIP providers is hardly ever the topic du jour for any dinner party. But adding some spice to a typically boring process and reducing customer effort are just a couple ways to create an experience they will remember and tell friends about.

To take this a step further, ask…

3. How can we exceed customer expectations?

We say this over and over: Satisfaction is “meh.” Just delivering what customers came for won’t help your brand stand out in a sea of sameness. Your competitors are offering special perks for new customers, so why should they sign a new contract with you?

Focus on ways to deliver extra value with everything your customers ask for, and continue delivering value in between. One great way to do this is through special content that helps customers get the most out of your products or services. This is a clever way to keep customers engaged with your product while improving their experience at the same time!

4. When was the last time we said thank you, and how can we say it better?

“Thank you” is a phrase we expect to hear as a courtesy after any transaction, so we rarely take it to heart. Pasting those words into every email won’t make customers feel appreciated. Find ways to show them they are appreciated as individuals.

Some companies send handwritten notes to customers, surprise them with gifts, or thank them publicly on social media.

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If nothing else, using what you know to add a few sincere words makes a huge difference. Instead of saying “thanks for your business,” try something like “I really appreciate your extra time on yesterday’s call” or “I hope your daughter gets well soon!”

5. How can our customers share more with us?

Customer feedback is the secret sauce behind game-changing innovation. But many companies limit themselves to the feedback they receive from the few customers who respond to surveys. They miss valuable insight from those who don’t have a strong enough opinion to bother, or those who don’t think their opinion would make a difference.

  • Check in with a current or defected customer just to ask how things are going.
  • Listen in on social media and be available to respond.
  • Invite long-term customers to serve as advisers or sit in on meetings.

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However you gather it, find ways to let customers know their feedback is the catalyst for the changes they need the most. Even if you still feel like surveys are your only way, show them how feedback sparks real action in your organization, and you’ll see more of them speaking up.


For expert advice on the best ways to ask for feedback, download our free guide:

The CX Expert’s Guide to Asking Survey Questions that Drive Change


It always seems impossible until it’s done.

-Nelson Mandela

What “impossible” questions have leaders in your organization avoided asking?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext, 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, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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