Laura McLellan, Research Vice President with Gartner, has written extensively on the future impact of customer experience in the C-Suite.  She recently published a fantastic post on "10 Proof Points -- Why Customer Experience Is the Next Big Thing".  But I've always struggled with how you measure the customer experience.  How do you measure and monetize the customer experience?  Today I learned.


A lot of effort has been focused on defining the perfect customer experience, but let's talk about what that imperfect experience looks like.  Like art, or bad art, you know it when you see it and you react when you experience it.


All I wanted to do was activate my new phone.  A simple task, I thought.  My old phone would no longer hold a charge.  I followed the appropriate process and ordered the phone through my company's self-service system.  I placed the order, received notification of shipment, and 2 days later received my new phone.


It Starts With Confusion and a Little Bit of Patience

In the package was a card from my service provider, providing the website address for phone activation.  I submitted the data for my phone but I continued to receive errors.  I selected the customer service web chat feature. It asked for my account information. Because the account is managed by my company, I was limited in what I could provide and therefore, could not access web chat.  I clicked around some more.  I finally found passage into web chat where I was redirected to the activation page at which I had originated.


And Then Irritation Begins

I clicked around some more. I made a phone call to customer support and was put through a series of automated commands.  Following the automated instructions, I turned off my new phone, and then turned it back on.  Still nothing.  I returned to that same activation page, again.  This time when I submitted my information I was informed that my phone was now activated.  The problem was it actually wasn't.  I could neither call nor text from my new phone.  I could access my iCloud data from my new phone, but I had to use my old phone to call. I called the automated customer support line, again, and received the same message I had received on the activation landing page.


Irritation Evolves Into Exasperation 2-index.jpg

I called another support number and finally spoke with a human. The human looked at my account and said there must be something wrong with my SIM card and that I would have to visit a local store.  I drove 10 minutes to the store, waited 5 minutes to check into their queue, and then waited another 15 minutes until I was waited on.  Once I spoke with the store representative she looked up my account information and informed me there was nothing wrong with the SIM card.  She explained that because my line was tied to the company's premiere account, a business representative would have to activate my line.  Apparently store representatives can't activate business lines.  I asked why this wasn't mentioned by the web chat assistant or the support representative I spoke with.  The store representative said they work out of different systems.


Finally, Anger Sets In

She called, and left voice messages, with 2 different business representatives.  That was two and half hours ago and I have yet to hear from anyone.


8 hours, 47 web clicks, 1 web chat, 3 support calls, one 10 minute drive, an hour-long store visit, and 2 unanswered voice messages and I still have no resolution.  That is how I measured my customer experience today.


The Solution

Now, I don't believe in calling out the negative if you can't provide a suggestion for improvement. So, here's my suggestion.  I would recommend to my service provider that they invest in unifying their data.  And I recommend they do that now, because studies anticipate a 50X explosion in data growth by 2020.  I'm offered up display ads from my service provider so they're certainly tracking my Digital Body Language.  When my phone shipped I should have received an email, from the service provider, that was personalized to my business account, which contained content and activation instruction to my business account.


Companies become so focused on how to bundle services, up-sell, and cross-sell products and solutions yet they neglect the key to business growth.  Satisfaction and loyalty from customers, often developed through the customer experience, will trump creative marketing campaigns any day.  To develop an improved customer experience, companies must integrate systems and get them talking.  They must also implement technology that can leverage that personalized contact and account data.


I've never put my fist through a wall, but I came very close today.  From now on, when I'm asked to monetize the customer experience I'll respond with "however much it costs to repair a hole in the wall".