The Customer Experience Conundrum

If you’ve been reading the Maximum Customer Experience blog for a while, you’ve probably come across at least a few posts here that had you nodding your head in understanding and agreement.

If I’m really doing my job as your guide to Experience Design, maybe you’ve even read some posts that have given you an Aha! moment— “Aha! I’ve had that happen to me as a customer,” and/or “Aha! I’ll bet that’s going on with my customers.”

I’m delighted if you’ve left a comment on one of those posts to let me know how it clarified things or made you want to take action to shake your business out of its slump.

And I’m thrilled if I’ve occasionally encouraged you to dig deeper into the hundreds of archived articles here, looking for further ideas for growing your business.

But did you take the action?

Did you put Radically Improving in-person or online Customer Experience at the top of your to-do list? Well, why not?

  • Worried that something might go wrong

Might you change the Customer Experience for the worse? Sure, it’s possible, but with a little bit of research in advance and plenty of open communication/ customer feedback along the way, it’s not very likely—and if you’re actively listening, you’ll be able to make adjustments as you go, even if a bit of backtracking is in order. Just ask Gap.

  • Worried that it will be too difficult to do

Is there backbreaking labor and months and months of crazy schemes you can’t possibly commit to, looming when you decide to improve your customers’ Experience? If you’ve been reading here for a while you know that every week I suggest small steps that add up to big changes over time. In our small- to mid-sized-businesses, we have no need for massive CE projects that seem to stretch on forever. You can make big improvements happen fast (I’d be glad to help/) or begin with little shifts—both will change customers’ attitudes about buying from you.

  • Hasn’t become an emergency yet

The most likely reason why you haven’t given fabulous Customer Experience a top place on your priority list is that it’s not on fire.

Or so you think.

In small business, folks tend to think in terms of emergencies… way too often. Pay the bill, renew the ad, stop the leak, fix the cracked tile, answer the email. Oh, yeah, and take care of the customer in front of us. Just like when you were in school and the homework due tomorrow looked mighty important, but the project you had three weeks for looked soooo far off.

The problem with a Customer Experience “fire” is that it looks very far off, while under the surface, it’s causing many of the problems that are going on right now (fewer emails to answer, more returns than sales, old customers drawn away by your competition in ways they never were before…).

So while your business is dealing with the smoke of decreasing sales, increasing complaints, tough competition, and conflicting priorities—or if you’re hoping to stay ahead of those issues and even make some headway while other companies continue to “wait things out” —it’s time to look a lot more closely at your Customer Experience. Yes, there’s already a fire, and waiting to put it out could prove deadly.

If you’re holding back on making a concrete plan to improve your Customer Experience, I don’t think it’s because you can’t see the reward. More satisfied customers = larger sales, more frequent sales, more word-of-mouth, and of course, more sales. You know that!

If worries about doing it wrong or becoming overwhelmed are getting to you, remember to do your research and make improving Customer Experience a small (but daily) part of your company’s procedures.

And if CE just doesn’t look like Job #1, remember…

No customers, no Job #2. It’s that urgent.

What’s holding you back?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson