Learning from (others') experience

Stoyan Kenderov, Amdocs
23 Oct 2007

The experience of using a product or service, or of generally doing business with a company, is the complex result of many variables. Among them are users' distinct and diverse expectations, states of mind and emotions. Much of what goes into the customer experience is subjective, and usually way beyond operators' control. But that doesn't not mean operators shouldn't do their best to create distinctive, delightful experiences.

Let us start by asking what experiences are made of. Experiences are not the same for everybody, and the criteria for good experiences may change from one day to the next. For example, a 60-second delay in the delivery of a text message may still qualify as a 'great' experience on a leisurely Sunday afternoon because there is no hurry. But on Monday morning, the same 60-second delay can mean a loss of millions of dollars to the stock broker who depends on instant market updates. That's how subjective and seasonal experiences can be.

What operators are now learning is that their service and network performance affects the customer experience through an intricate web of personal expectations and preferences - the odd 'black box' of our personal frames of reference. Having the network under control is an essential component of success, but it's not sufficient. There is more. It's not just the immediate interactions with the customer in the call center or the self-service portal either. What happens before and after the immediate interaction has an equal, if not greater, impact on the overall customer experience.

Before customer interactions, expectations are set. At a minimum, customers believe that their service will work as advertised or promised. When expectations are set correctly, you'll have fewer calls to customer care, fewer complaints and more goodwill and more referrals from customers. And if you're able to exceed those expectations, that's a point of differentiation.

After the interaction, the organization has the opportunity to learn from and act on what matters to the market and what doesn't. In other words, when 'moments of truth' arise, are you arming your organization with the necessary resources and attention to perform those interactions with absolute perfection‾ It is these few moments of truth that decide whether our products and services will carry the day, and create advocacy for our brand.

According to Romanian folk wisdom, 'Only the foolish learn from experience. The wise learn from the experience of others.'

By capturing customer interaction data and analyzing the observed experience for repeatable patterns and insights, service providers can create something truly unique. Thus, the customer experience must be carefully designed, measured and improved, accumulating what operators have learned on the way and applying it to future applications. Therein lies the potential for differentiation. It can't be left to chance.

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