Does More Customer Interaction Lead to Better Experience?

Discussion about good and especially bad customer service experiences is favorite topic of many coffee table conversations. These customer interactions can be called also as moments of truth (read more about them fromJan Carlzon‘s book titled “Moments of Truth”). Moments of truth can be either misery or magic. If you get really good customer experience, then you will be happy and recommend that business to others also. But if something goes wrong, it becomes moment of misery, which will make you feel bad and work against the organization. Managing those moments of truth is one of the key factors to success for an organization and here are some reasons for it:

Customer interaction. Every time a customer interacts with your organization, it is an opportunity for them to form an impression, which may be either good or bad one, i.e. moment of magic or misery. People will treat the organization based on those moments of truth.

Surplus costs. Every moment of truth is a cost to the organization, because you have to work to produce that moment of truth. And you do not want to pay for producing moments of misery, do you?

For every  customer interaction there is at least one moment of truth. If customers have too many  moments of misery, the likely result is that the customer will leave or at least seriously think about leaving your business.

Less is more. The more moments of truth it takes to get something done with your organization, the less successful the customer experience and the more likely the customer will leave. The more you have those customer interactions, the higher the probability to produce moments of misery.

Optimizing your process. For every customer experience that deserves to exist, there are an optimum number of moments of truth. The customer experience is the process that your organization should be delivering.

Let me explain this with an example from my life. Let’s take pretty much any phone service that you need to use. I will tell you about phone service of one ISP in Finland. I wanted to cancel my subscription and to do that I had to call them. First of course the automatic responder will ask your details like customer number and such. Then you need to select from the voice menu what is your business with them, then what do you want to have done. That has caused already tens of moments of truths before even getting down to the matter. It does not cause ISP much of surplus costs, because the system is automated, but one must still wonder what do they do with the information. And I ask this because when you get a real person on the phone, she will ask you pretty much the same questions. And if you happen to ask her “can’t you see the details I just gave to your automatic system?”, she’ll respond that this information was just needed to route the call to right person. Talking about moments of misery! If someone would just answer me right away and help me deal with my problem, that would mean less customer interaction and a happier customer.

When challenging most customer experience management professionals about how they would improve the customer experience for this interaction, they talk about making each touch point better, ensuring the business support people are as helpful as possible and capturing the survey results, feeding them back into the customer experience management program and employee rewards program.

Ask most consultancies how they could improve this customer experience and in most cases, their approaches will be the same. They would assume this customer process deserves to exist because it is not possible to stop customers. Thus, using traditional approaches, they would create a project to design an improved experience for customers. Then they will ensure that each customer interaction is “better” and “quicker” and will reward customer service agents for their increased “efficiency”, their KPI’s being aligned to the average touch time and talk time, or the quicker they can get customers off the phone or sending email.

Here is the catch. This whole customer interaction could have been made significantly better and significantly cheaper by considering the philosophy of whether this customer experience deserved to exist. Instead of having automated middleman, a significantly better customer experience would be just to have trained personnel deal with most customer service situations. This approach could have helped to solve the problem quicker and in most cases, could have prevented the need for spending so much time on the phone.

This kind of customer centered thinking is being used by many of this century’s most successful companies and there are many techniques, which are enabling organizations to benefit from this kind of approach. So, when asked to improve the customer experience, never assume that all customer experiences deserve to exist; you have to challenge them!

Here are some reflective questions that you can ask:
  • Does our organization produce proper customer interactions?
  • Have we analyzed our business processes from customer perspective?
  • How could we simplify our business processes so that they would make customer’s life easier, simpler and more successful?
  • Do we actively engage with customer to discuss about the service we provide?


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Nathaniel Palmer
Author: Nathaniel PalmerWebsite: http://bpm.com
VP and CTO
Rated as the #1 Most Influential Thought Leader in Business Process Management (BPM) by independent research, Nathaniel Palmer is recognized as one of the early originators of BPM, and has led the design for some of the industry’s largest-scale and most complex projects involving investments of $200 Million or more. Today he is the Editor-in-Chief of BPM.com, as well as the Executive Director of the Workflow Management Coalition, as well as VP and CTO of BPM, Inc. Previously he had been the BPM Practice Director of SRA International, and prior to that Director, Business Consulting for Perot Systems Corp, as well as spent over a decade with Delphi Group serving as VP and CTO. He frequently tops the lists of the most recognized names in his field, and was the first individual named as Laureate in Workflow. Nathaniel has authored or co-authored a dozen books on process innovation and business transformation, including “Intelligent BPM” (2013), “How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done” (2012), “Social BPM” (2011), “Mastering the Unpredictable” (2008) which reached #2 on the Amazon.com Best Seller’s List, “Excellence in Practice” (2007), “Encyclopedia of Database Systems” (2007) and “The X-Economy” (2001). He has been featured in numerous media ranging from Fortune to The New York Times to National Public Radio. Nathaniel holds a DISCO Secret Clearance as well as a Position of Trust with in the U.S. federal government.