Friday, November 13, 2015

Three lessons online can learn from offline customer experience

An article on HBR today makes a lot of sense on consistency of customer experience online and off.

And it notes we have different expectations online versus off.

But the question is should we? When we talk about improving customer experience its often, where a business already cares about customer experience, a question of giving it the same emotional feel online as off.

This is difficult stuff. And it needs examples to help us shape a response.

Many years back I recall Doc Searls talking about his wife's annoyance with sign-ins and registrations online - the sort of barriers people seeking to transact in the real world rarely come across. And when we do... "Can I take your postcode please... and the number of the house?..." we feel something unnatural and data capturey is taking place, something we'd rather not soil ourselves with...

Lesson - The best experience requires no sign in and no registration.

And as I noted recently - online we may be cutting organisations more slack than we would in the real world... because no one sees us fail when we try to 'get in' to your online presence. The very human emotion of embarrassment is removed.

Lesson - Dance like no one is watching, by all means, but Test your online customer journeys like someone is watching.

Imagine you are a retailer who has built a reputation on no quibble returns - money back immediately? How can you replicate online the satisfaction provided by handing over the faulty item in person in the store and getting credited back immediately on the card you paid with (usually prompting an instant repurchase from stock).  If my transaction is recorded and available in all channels then this can be used to verify I do possess the product in question. In selecting to send it back, generating a postage paid printout address, or even a label to attach to it for pick up from home, I should be granted an instant refund - before the item is even boxed up to be sent back.

Why - because this shows me the retailer trusts me (and trust is reciprocal) and I am much more likely to repurchase from the same retailer, right now, to replace my faulty item - a loyal customer ready to tell friends all about my great experience.

If I fail to send the faulty item back what's the worst that happens? The retailer loses the full value of the item and the consumer gets blacklisted (but only after a period of reminder communications, of course).

Fearful retailers could trial limiting the value available to do this online, and/or providing vouchers which can only be spent with the same store. But I suspect the more trust you offer, the more you get back.

Lesson: Don't forget the core emotions you are trying to generate online. If you've built your reputation on no quibble in the real world, how do you remove all the quibble when online?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?