It only takes 3 seconds to destroy your service experience

The beginning of a service experience matters. A lot. Start successfully, and you can make it a great experience. Start wrong, and you can dig a hole you can’t get out of.

I mentioned my car accident last week. Luckily, it wasn’t bad, but the agent didn’t know that. That’s why how she began our conversation. I told her that I was at the site of an accident. Instead of asking if I’m okay, she was right down to business, asking me about what I want to do. It was just another call in a long series of them for her.

Just like that, there was no chance to engage me. She would have been just as effective if she hung up.

Her approach might not matter in a rational world. But I don’t live in that world. And neither do you. But it seems that some people haven’t gotten that message, designing experiences based on the assumption that we’re all rational.

How else to explain health plans that allow you to choose your own pricing, then are surprised when everyone chooses the low-premium, low coverage option. I actually worked with a health savings account organization who believed (and still does) that consumers want to select between different pricing plans. Despite the fact that literally 98.5% of their consumers didn’t. They felt they just needed more education.

Bad design is everywhere in the world of websites. My “favorites” are websites that require convoluted logins I can’t remember, or password schemes that can’t end with a number or symbol. I know a rational person wouldn’t care about this limit. But a real person does.

That’s one of the reasons I love journey mapping so. Effective journey maps uncover the emotions in a customer experience, clearly visualizing those friction points that interfere with customer engagement. An effective journey map clearly shows your customer’s emotions, revealing the friction points that are costing you customers.

Apparently, the folks over at Software Advice, a consulting company for customer support software, share my passion for understanding the emotions in our experiences. They conducted a survey to understand customers’ preferred type of communication. The article ends with a clear call to action.  While a casual tone works well in neutral or positive experiences, a formal tone is absolutely necessary when denying requests.

So think about the tone in your service experiences. And give yourself a chance to get past your first three seconds.

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