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The 22 Commandments Will Help You Overcome Customer Experience Quality Crises…

In my last article, I talked about quality by looking partially at the Samsung Galaxy S7 product issues. My focus in working with clients is often all the risk aspects that can impact the quality of customer experience, so I want to continue discussing quality. In this article, we’re going to use two personal examples (from different sectors) to illustrate points about trust and customer experience.

Here is the first story.

My Amazon story

In December 2016, I ordered a copy of The Fourth Transformation , a great book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel about AI, AR and VR and immersive virtual experiences. I ordered the book from Amazon. It seemed like no big deal. I’ve ordered hundreds of books from Amazon.

On this particular order of this particular book, it took close to 72 days — yes, days — to arrive. That was a horrible customer experience and a failure of what Amazon stands for. I was pretty frustrated, and even the authors did not understood why it took so long.

But the brand here was Amazon. I’ve ordered hundreds of things from Amazon over the years that have arrived on-time or even prior to the deliver time and in perfect, quality condition.

So, I assume I had a threshold where I could “forgive” Amazon for my book being late, but a smaller shipping company that I hadn’t heard of? Maybe I wouldn’t forgive so quickly.

In my long history with Amazon, they typically deliver a superior quality with amazing hyper-personalized design  and customer experience. When I think of the company, the first thing that comes to mind is the quality of the experience and their consistency.

Amazon did make it right, though. They returned me 10 dollars of the book price and paid my shipping costs the second time around, so my cost ended up being close to zero. Think about that: Amazon is a huge company — one of the biggest in the world by market capitalization — and they still behave like that towards customers. We all know companies (of all sizes) who don’t behave that way. You may say now “Well, it’s a marketing trick they do,” and maybe that’s true — but it’s effective when you reimburse because of mistakes. .

Very few companies would care like that. I do believe they are an exceptional brand and they do have my trust. I think of them when I think of great customer experience.

There is a reason Jeff Bezos became one of the world’s richest man, and part of that is because he built out a brand where you expect consistent quality and transparency, amazing services and experiences — and you’re willing to forgive the few misses when they happen.

Several companies are always trying to emulate them. I always say to my clients that even though Amazon is among the top experiences in the globe, and you can’t really approach their scale or assets, you can use certain aspects, characteristics and benchmark a bit of what Amazon teams created, which constantly teach us about the real meaning and execution of customer-centricity excellence.

In fact, the brothers Bryan Eisenberg & Jeffrey Eisenberg wrote in their recent book “Be Like Amazon: Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It” about how to utilize Amazon principles and unify the best of Amazon characteristics and customer experience.

I forgave Amazon — and quickly. You probably would too, if something got messed up with a delivery. But I’ve also had experiences where I didn’t forgive a brand.

My Jeep Cherokee Chrysler story

Years ago,I was living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. These days (in Germany) I prefer biking or using Uber/ride share, but back then — because of how the U.S. is, and especially that Philadelphia area — I needed a car. I decided on a Jeep Grand Cherokee for two reasons: (1) was that I liked the car from having seen it in Israel and the U.S. and (2) was that Lee Iacocca was a great business leader — and the guy who designed the first Mustang for Ford before going to Chrysler.

I had the Grand Cherokee, my dream car, for two weeks — yes, two weeks — when my boss calls me. I was living in a condo at Cherry Hill, NJ at the time, and I was leaving toward the office.

I just left the condo and turned right, when he called me — as you can see in the picture above. Naturally, I parked the car and was talking to my boss about a large client in Greece, and then … the hood starts smoking.

I couldn’t believe it.

This car was two weeks old!

Long story made shorter: I returned the car, yes. I did eventually get money back on it, but it took forever. You know the expression “No questions asked?” This was many questions asked. In fact, when I first went back to return the car, they kept trying to get me to get a new Cherokee instead of simply and seamlessly returning the money. They kept pushing to get me a new one.

Now consider these two situations.

Amazon messed up an order of mine, but I was willing to forgive.

I had a bad experience with a Jeep (a Chrysler company back then  and a Fiat company today) and I have never ever gone back to buying from them.

We all know mistakes happen.

So what is the difference between a mistake that a company can come back from and a mistake that permanently loses your business?

Short answer: trust, behavior, consistency and quality of the product and services.

Long answer: keep reading.

How to think about mistakes and customers

What does a CEO or customer-centric leader need to be thinking about both to (a) prevent those mistakes and (b) make sure the customer trust stays strong when they happen?

Some questions I would consider include:

  • What would you want to happen if you were a customer and a brand messed up?
  • What steps are necessary to put in place (and processes, etc.) to mitigate risk?
  • Does something about your internal culture of excellence need to change?
  • What does the practical execution look like? For example, can anyone offer a basic refund, do your teams have the authority to solve the issues independently and proactively or do they need to obtain  a  manager level approval?
  • When a negative situation happens, do you do a post-mortem and discuss the conclusions and next steps to avoid similar situations in the future?
  • Do you do internal risk analyses and mitigate every risk in detail?
  • How is your company designing and checking its quality?
  • What are the quality standards for your sector? Is your company using them?
  • What is your process for double-checking quality?
  • What do you need to communicate to customers?
  • Are you compensating customers for this negative  customer experience?
  • What measures/metrics do you use to track and prevent issues with customer experience?
  • What is being done to avoid mistakes short- and long-term?

Remember: quality and CX mistakes will happen.

The real test is how to be prepared with your talent to deal properly with those situations in customer interaction positions. . This applies digitally and physically, and it applies in B2B and B2C.

This also speaks to the idea that focusing in customer experience, design, product, services and people quality are the key imperatives for organizations that want to be successful and consistent  from the moment they start. Why?

Because the more engaging positive experiences you have with customers, the easier it will be for them to forgive a mistake. Think about a friendship, for example. In a friendship or relationship, some mistakes are tolerated because there is a long-standing relationship there. In a short-term friendship or business relationship, those mistakes can cause a rupture because the reputation and trust hasn’t been built yet. And just like in a friendship, even trust can erode with too many mistakes — a customer will leave you when they feel it’s not worth it anymore.

The 22 Commandments Of Dealing With Mistakes And Crises

  1. You shall hire and develop quality in all levels of your organization starting with the C-suite and extending it everywhere.
  2. You shall consistently develop talent and educate, coach and train them on how to manage quality as part of your culture — and manage customer both good and difficult interactions.
  3. You shall hire and partner with problem-solving, curious, customer-centric people who want to get things done.
  4. You shall create real value for customers and ensure they are successful. This is your basic key to retention and loyalty.
  5. “You shall invest in people, and customer experience. Consider the 4Ps: people, preparation, prevention, and proactivity.
  6. Remember, your company exists to serve customers. Profits and revenues come from doing that very well.
  7. Use analytics, feedbacks, reviews, communities, focus groups, and more to make sure you are not assuming what a customer wants. You are actually delivering what they want.
  8. Make sure your interactions (digital and in-person) are well-prepared, well-designed, quick (respect their time), efficient, and provide the right information.
  9. You shall not  treat them badly ever. They might not be right, but they deserve your respect as a customer and as humans. (I got that one from Shep Hyken.)
  10. Admit you (and/or your company) were wrong, apologize, and act to solve the issues fast — courtesy of Mike Wittenstein at Story Miners.
  11. You shall not blame others for your mistakes and instead take public ownership now.
  12. You shall not work in defensive or reactive mode. Solve the issues you created and own the responsibility.
  13. You shall allocate resources, time, and money to fix things — and be humble as a brand and as a leader. — courtesy of Mike Wittenstein at Story Miners
  14. You shall check the details of the root cause of the problem and adopt corrective measures as preventive measures.
  15. Add fixes to your road map and execute on it. Be assertive about adjusting people and processes and procedures where necessary. Get it fixed!
  16. You shall not leave customer in the dark. Communicate with each and everyone involved in private using email, phone or social. Go personal not general. Give personal attention for those directly impacted. This effort pays back. Samsung is the proof with S8. They went the extra mile and early sales are looking good after the S7 chaos.
  17. Develop a strategy around those customers mostly directly affected — and how to follow up and engage with them even beyond the problem being solved. Go above and beyond the extra miles that are necessary.
  18. Focus on your customers’ needs first instead of going for the PR campaign first.
  19. You shall make justice to the wronged.
  20. After the problem is fixed, still invite customers, media, work entities to show them what the root cause was and how you solved the issues. Samsung did this after the S7 mess.
  21. Don’t focus as much on complaint tickets or bad surveys; you need to think about solving problems forever and preventing them. Tickets and surveys are part of your daily life until you achieve superior quality for customers. Are you focusing on improving quality?
  22. Avoid the snowball effect of social media. Get ahead of the issues. Be transparent. Show what leadership should be and above all remain customer-centric.

Your stories

I would love to hear from you on some of these questions:

  • What are some brands that have failed you but you continue to trust them?
  • Why?
  • What are some brands that have failed you more than once and you gave up on them?
  • What happened and why?
  • What does a brand need to do to get your trust and business?
  • When they fail to respond to your expectations, what do you expect them to do to regain your trust and ensure you became again a loyal customer?
  • Do you base decisions off what you know about their internal culture, or is it all about the quality of the product/service?

Quality is an imperative overall, but you also need plan, plan, plan, and prepare, prepare, prepare — and then do it all some more. How you prepare and manage unfortunate situations will also help customers decide whether to stick with you or not.”

When I first asked a few of my LinkedIn and other social media  connections this question, I got back some good initial replies:

Keith Wallace, said “Accept, be brutally open, and provide a clear path on the improvements.”

Rajeev Karkhanis started the same way: “Accept and acknowledge,” also adding: “Give adequate compensation to those affected, find root cause, and make the necessary changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Delfin Vassallo, had another good point: “Whatever change is occurring must be consistent and visible in time, otherwise I won’t trust the company is actually changing for good.”

Let me know what you think.

Amazon makes mistakes.

Fiat-Chrysler makes mistakes.

The largest and smallest business all will make mistakes. Everyone does.

So when a mistake is made, what must happen for trust to remain?


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About the Author:

Ricardo Saltz Gulko is a global strategist, thought leader, practitioner and speaker in the areas of customer experience, experience design, customer success, and global professional services. Ricardo has worked at numerous global technology companies, such as Oracle, Ericsson, Amdocs, Redknee, Inttra, Samsung among others as a global executive, focusing on enterprise software, services, design thinking and customer experience. He currently works with companies of varying sizes to transform themselves around CX, customer success pathways, and professional services. He holds a MBA at J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Evanston, IL USA and Undergraduate studies in Information Systems and Industrial Engineering. Ricardo is also a global citizen fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew and German and learning French. He is on the international advisory committee of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and currently resides in Munich, Germany with his family.

A diabetic who wants to wipe diabetes from the Earth for all of us, the proceeds from his forthcoming book will be going to the Faustman Lab. The Lab is working to eradicate it, based out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. You can also support and donate to The Lab. It would mean a lot to me, and millions of others struggling with diabetes.

You can learn more about him, his passions, and his charitable causes at his LinkedIn or Eglobalis or Facebook or Twitter.

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