Let’s be really honest for a moment, we do not develop a customer experience strategy because we want to be nice. We build out a customer journey map and conduct measurements on our customer experience software platform because we have recognized through our own financial linkage analysis (or analysis done across industries) that happy customers spend more with businesses they prefer.
Especially when a choice is made on where to spend that money. Sure, your water utility may not be that interested when they have a monopoly in that territory, but when a consumer has a choice on where to spend or whether or not you spend, they will vote with their wallet (to use an old cliché).
Last week my son’s high school resumed an old tradition of the Spring Festival. A tradition that stopped with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was an opportunity to invite the entire community to visit the campus, bring in future families to learn about clubs and activities that are available, and provide the students with an opportunity to perform (bands, clubs and even the theater troupe).
As part of the volunteer non-profit that I work with, we agreed to provide additional family entertainment by sponsoring and paying for some inflatable games and activities for kids to enjoy. We also recruited students to help manage these activities and even recruited food trucks to offer dinner options for those that showed up.
Since it was four years since it had last been run, we had tempered expectations about participation from the community. As a result, we offered all the activities for free to those that wanted to participate and even had prizes available for those that had won any of those games. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the participation was phenomenal. We doubled our expected peak participation level.
It was a great evening, and the feedback was terrific. This was all despite having roughly half the resources we needed (some food trucks had 45-minute waits for food orders).
“Success” is probably an understatement, but those of us that organized and executed this event are quite proud of the outcomes. So why are we talking about customer experience?
It was something that happened before the event that had me thinking about the right time to cross-sell or upsell a customer during the customer journey. One of my roles was to acquire all the rentals that we would be using for the event: inflatable games, dunk tank, tables and chairs. It was a sizable order with almost two hundred individually line-item components.
It was no surprise that I received a phone call after I placed the order online; in fact, it makes sense as one of the customer experience touchpoints in experience. A great customer feedback loop to ensure that the event – for which this company is a specialist – happens without this rental company being to blame, even if it was a customer oversight.
If you know anything about online reviews and the CX Reputation you know that even customers that are wrong will still leave a bad review. Just about any social media analysis shows the results of individuals that did not feel they received the services they needed, even if it was not the responsibility of the company providing the service.
As you have made it this far, you may ask the question again: so, where did things go wrong? Well, it was during this order confirmation review that I was hit with an experience that should have been reconsidered when they built out their customer journey template.
Instead of limiting that confirmation phone call to a concise topic for which I was promised it would only take “five minutes,” the call lasted nearly thirty minutes, and most of the discussion surrounding “opportunities to make the event even better.” With the dunk tank, it was recommended that we rent a hose (coincidentally, a rental that costs as much as a brand-new hose) to fill the tank.
I explained that we are a non-profit organization that has no extra money for add-ons. It did not slow her on her quest for the upsell or the cross-sell. Instead, it became a high-pressure sale. She strongly recommended that we get the damage waiver (which would increase our overall price by 18%). I stated that we had already acquired event insurance that would cover any damage to the items, yet there was still more pressure applied there.
Then came the add-ons – insisting that we should use their water weights (in lieu of the sandbags that were already available to us). This also came with the added threat that if the setup team did not feel our restraints were adequate, the team could cancel the order without refund. The closing question: “Do you have anyone else that might need our services? We’ll offer you $10 off your current rental if you provide an email address and a $10 credit on a future rental”.
That brings me back to the primary question: when is it the right time to cross-sell or upsell a customer? I can see some circumstances where it happens at the point-of-sell, but not during a “five minute confirmation call” (nevermind that I was in another country when that call came in and stated as such when the call started). I can also see a case to be made that these opportunities must happen before the event, but still make certain that you have all the details from the customer before a high-pressure sales discussion.
Finally, before first person-to-person interaction with the company is completed, I firmly believe that the company should not be asking for a referral from a customer before the initial service is completed. To top it all off, after I paid the final invoice (still before the delivery of the items at the event), I received a survey asking me how they did (for the entire experience) and also asking for an online review. It is important to measure the Voice-of-the-Customer. However, the company should recognize the appropriate time to measure each point in the journey – not measure the entire journey before the first transaction is completed.
I received a question from one of the other volunteers: “Given all this, would you use them again?” The short answer is “No”. Not because of this experience but rather because I will no longer be a parent of a student at this high school following this school year. However, they probably won’t do an appropriate sentiment analysis of my comment and still not understand that we still had a great event, but the need is not there.
Still, here’s to a great kick-off to spring!
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At QuestionPro, we have a wide range of software tools and platforms to help you create a customer journey map, measure customer experience, and get valuable insights into your customer’s needs and preferences. We also offer a platform to measure Voice-of-the-Customer, so you can make informed decisions about your business.