The Micro/Macro of Customer Experience

by Jeannie Walters

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When micro becomes macro (and back again)

Imagine you sign up for a service which you believe will help you rent your place out for a week. You sign the papers, pay the invoice and find a tenant. Woo hoo! The renter goes through the same service you signed up for, and you feel a trustworthy agreement was made. Then you come home to damage beyond your wildest imagination. To make matters worse, you realize that nobody – not you, not the company through which the agreement was made – knows who this renter was. Fake information was used and you were left with a life turned upside down.

That’s what happened to a customer of AirBNB, and most people who heard this heartbreaking story of unwarranted destruction and devastation asked the same question: If this could happen, what the heck were those membership fees for? There were really no background checks, no security measures, nothing. As the customer pointed out, it was pretty much just like Craigslist with fees, but no warnings.

The micro (one person’s experience) became macro: if this could happen to one, could it happen to many?

And then there was a really thoughtful response from AirBNB. It was good – it shows thinking about the future. (Also, props to them for using a promoted tweet to spread the word – nice thinking!)

The customer, who is also a blogger, has been chronicling the experience in detail. The reply to the statement from AirBNB was honest. Basically – the feeling is: That’s nice. Happy you’re thinking about the future. But what about the micro here? It’s not over for this one customer who is putting a life back in order. I hope that AirBNB goes back to the micro intent here. Make it right for one AND all.

When micro doesn’t go macro

A few months ago, I wrote about my feelings of apathy for ADT. Well, they heard about it and got in touch. I heard from a customer service representative, had a service call, and my problems were solved. After a few years of frustration, a single blog post and a few tweets were all it took. Instead of the typical fee for a service call, they sent someone to fix what was installed incorrectly for no charge. Of course I was happy MY problem was solved. When the follow up call came, I said it was all fixed now (3+ years later!) and they went on their way. But I’ve wondered: what really changed!? Other customers are living what I lived with simply because it was too painful to do anything about it. They may not be bloggers or tweeters.

The micro AND the macro

There are times you need to step back and look at both sides of the coin. If ONE customer has an issue, it’s critical to realize it’s probably an issue MANY customers are having. What can you do to proactively address the issue?

At the same time, sometimes addressing the macro isn’t enough. You need to go back to the one customer, the one issue and ensure that it’s resolved.

How does your organization handle the one-off customer fires? Are they quickly extinguished and forgotten? When do you take the time to examine the macro of the issue? Complaints are a gift. Resolution is a prize. But only if you make it work for one and all.

Photo credit lucy_hill via Creative Commons

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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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