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Great Customer Experience Involves Repaving the Bumps in the Road

By Jennifer Polk | December 18, 2015 | 2 Comments

Great customer experience is like really good highway design. How do you know if you’re driving on a well-designed highway? If you think about it, there are three hallmarks of good highway design. It’s intuitive (marketing), easy to use (operations) and well-maintained (customer service).Customer Experience should be intuitive, easy to use and well-maintained.

Marketing Brings Intuition into Customer Experience

Well-designed highways don’t leave drivers wondering what to do next. They offer clear signage letting drivers know when there are curves ahead, guidance about on-ramps and exits, and recommendations, like the “suggested” speed. Similarly, a well-designed customer experience uses marketing to connect with customers, set and manage their expectations. Communication is clear, concise and consistent.

Operations Makes Customer Experience Easy to Use

A well-designed highway is built on stable infrastructure. The roadway is reliable. The pavement is smooth. Bridges provide logical connections between different interstates. In the same way, a well-designed customer experience is built on a solid foundation—people, processes and technology—that instills trust in customers and is the bedrock of long-lasting customer relationships.

Bumps in the Road Are Unavoidable, Remember to Repair and Repave

The best highways are well-maintained, not because they never have a pothole or cracked pavement, but because the municipality invests in repairs to keep them in good condition. The same is true of great customer experience. It doesn’t mean there are no issues. It means the business recognizes and recovers from those issues in a way that shows the customer they value their relationship.

For example, Eddie Merlot’s, used email marketing to reach people who had dined with them before, promote holiday dining and drive reservations. They partnered with Open Table to take lunch and dinner reservations. Lunch was only available on certain dates, but that wasn’t reflected on Open Table. The customer experience was easy to use, but marketing and operations were out of sync.

This error forced the restaurant to cancel reservations—clearly a bump in the customer experience roadway. But, Eddie Merlot’s tried repaired the customer relationship by offering to have the local restaurant manager follow up personally. They even paved over the bump in some cases by honoring some reservations and offering private dining at a time when the restaurant was supposed to be closed.

The key to a great customer experience, like a well-designed and well-maintained highway, is a solid infrastructure. It also requires intuitive marketing that is easy to use and seamlessly connected to other parts of the business. And, most importantly, when there are bumps in the road, which there will be, quickly deploy resources, like empowered front line employees, to make the necessarily repairs.

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2 Comments

  • Akhil Mohan says:

    Bang On!!!! I loved the way how you related ‘Customer Experience’ to a ‘Good Highway Design’. I totally agree with the 3 points that you covered here. Looking forward to read more such valuable content from you that I can implement in my Marketing Strategy.

  • Katina Moss says:

    Why have you drawn this excellent comparison between two topics to which I am most sensitive!? 🙂 Great read! Very insightful. Thank you!