The Wrong Way to Get CX Right – Tuesday CX Thoughts

The “Old World” Social Media App

I have a very vivid memory of my first summer away from my small Montana hometown to the greater NYC metropolitan area spending the time with my grandparents in New Jersey.  Yes, I remember seeing the big buildings, Yankee Stadium, and the Statue of Liberty.  Today, we live in a very interconnected world with only time zones being the biggest barrier in my view.  Back then, I was anxious to share my adventures with my friends back home, so I would give them a call.  The calls weren’t very long, twenty to thirty minutes, maybe twice a week to five or so of my close friends and the occasional call to other friends. A distinct memory, being shown the phone bill from my first month there.  At home, these calls were “local” so I didn’t think much of calling friends to tell them about my day.  From New Jersey, these calls were “long-distance” and the starting price was around 25 cents per minute.  Taken across all these people at that frequency for that amount of time, just sixty minutes would be the equivalent of almost $40 today – let’s just say I went multiples over sixty minutes that the first month.  Makes you welcome the fact that social media apps are free in exchange for letting them collect a lot of information about you.

Telephone charges have certainly changed over the years.  Going from large per-minute fees to the introduction of competitors that would give lower rates, then unlimited calling plans.  Those per-minute rates were reintroduced with mobile phones (plus roaming charges), charges per SMS, and data caps.  Most of which seem to have gone the way of “long-distance” rates.  Many of us only worry about hitting that mobile data cap where our speed then gets throttled.

Winning The Battle, Losing The War

Consumers hated those per minute rates.  Most companies had a clear vested interest in keeping them.  It took only that first company to eliminate the rates for the rest of them to start reviewing how they made money, or make more money, in the new dynamic.  That should be an ongoing conversation that every company has internally.

At the same time, all these changes in rates were positioned at a customer experience “win” for the customers.  “FYI, ABC-XYZ NOW OFFERS UNLIMITED INTERGALACTIC CALLS” – an offer that is too good to refuse.  As a consumer, I can now call someone just about anywhere without thinking about the cost, even if the reason is to “just catch up”.  A long-distance (pun intended) from my days of writing letters to avoid per minute charges.

With the new dynamic, however, there are unintended consequences.  For example, how many SPAM or scam calls did you get when there was a per-minute charge.  If I did get one, I would keep them on the phone as long as possible for my own entertainment – costing them money.  Now they can be persistent and continuous.  On a given day, I will get at least a dozen robocalls.  Some callers hit my number more than ten times a minute with auto-dialers.  They can even quickly call from multiple phone numbers to help avoid SPAM blockers.  They already invested in the hardware and software, they don’t lose anything by dialing more, except for maybe an FCC complaint (which went up from 212K complaints in 2015 to 369K complaints in 2020 – and that number seems low since I think I get that many robocalls on my phone in one day that I don’t report).

Did the consumer win?  Regardless of your opinion on that question, we really need to think about the bigger question when we try to improve the customer experience.  That is, did we all really win? I have to emphasize the word “all” because customer experience should be about improving the perception of customers with our brand and the brand being able to capitalize on that with greater loyalty and profit. That is easier said than done. The law of unintended consequences (it’s real since I can find it on Wikipedia) seems to kick in every time we make a change in processes that will impact customers.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Does that mean we shouldn’t make changes? NO. Should we implement a deliberate process that all changes go through a very thorough review process before rolling out? No. You should perhaps still do a little research, but not create a bottleneck that will forever slow down your company.

Change needs to happen – both for the company and the customers. Often it needs to happen quickly – sometimes to be seen as the innovative one, sometimes to react to external pressure.  You can’t counter every possible scenario – I come from an operations management background and know that it is not possible as time is a function in all those considerations and doing nothing for a certain period of time can be more devastating than making the wrong decisions.

However, if your customer feedback loop is properly set up, you can get feedback on those changes immediately.  Using the CX enterprise software platform right like QuestionPro CX will allow you to be nimble enough to add a new question to your customer experience survey in just minutes, or launch an entirely new survey focused just on that issue and customer segment in an hour.  Target questions about that topic, or allowing customers to focus on root cause issues like we leverage in our proprietary NPS+ metric will make it easy to read the churn risk from those implementations if there are any.  If your customer experience strategy does not consider that, or your software platform is not that nimble, you may be facing more unintended consequences in the future.  Let’s hope they don’t turn into FCC, SEC, or other government complaints.

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