Customer Experience Roundup, July 1, 2019

Customer service and customer experience are often used interchangeably. While the two concepts are actually separate, service is a vital part of the overall customer experience. It’s no coincidence that brands with great customer service also tend to have a great customer experience. Here are three stories from the week that show the power of customer service and how creating great relationships and innovative services can launch companies to the next level and help customers.

Customer Service Offers Therapeutic Benefits

A customer service call can often just be to resolve a problem or answer a question. But for a growing number of customers, calling to talk to a customer service representative turns into a mini therapy session. This week, the New York Times published an article highlighting numerous experiences from customers who called with a question and left with an enlightening or emotionally freeing conversation. Not only do those customers feel better, but they also have better feelings towards the brand. These quasi-therapy sessions happen when employees and empowered and encouraged to connect with customers and can have a lasting impact on customer relationships and the overall experience.

These interactions highlight the need for empathy in customer experience. True relationships are built on trust and connections. Instead of simply answering a question or rushing through a transaction, empathetic employees and companies listen to customers, step into their shoes and have meaningful conversations.

Fast Food Customer Satisfaction Is Down In 2019

A meal and a smile used to be the usual fare at fast-food chains, but in recent years the number of smiles seems to be decreasing. This week, the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI, released its fast-food rankings and found that overall satisfaction at limited-service restaurants dropped nearly 2% from last year. A large reason for the decline is that many chains are focusing on updating their menus or adding new technology instead of developing strong customer experiences. Chick fil A topped the fast-food list for the fourth year in a row with 86% satisfaction, while McDonalds brought in the lowest score at 69%.

Technology plays a major role in customer experience, but focusing too much on technology and not enough of good service and human connections can lead to dissatisfied customers, as shown by the ACSI results. The top chain, Chick fil A, has a strong app but still focuses on in-person service, good manners and personalized service, while the lowest scoring chain, McDonalds, has made big improvements to its technology offerings and ordering kiosks but not its service culture. In order to succeed, companies need to focus on both the technology and human aspects of customer experience.

VW Launches All-Electric Car-Sharing Service

The sharing economy is in full swing, and Volkswagen just stepped into the ring with the debut of WeShare, its car-sharing service. However, VW is taking it a step further with an exclusively electric vehicle fleet. The service kicked off in Berlin with 1,500 electric Volkswagen Golf cars. The plan is to add 500 more cars early next year and expand the service area. To reserve a car, customers check in on the app and find the car parked somewhere in the city. They rent it, drive it and then park it wherever is convenient for them for the next customer to use. The model has proven popular for other vendors, but adding the electric vehicle component makes the service more environmentally friendly.

Volkswagen is addressing several customer pain points at once with its new service. Urban dwellers often don’t own cars or need them all the time. But when they do need to drive, they likely prefer an electric vehicle. Encouraging car sharing and lowering vehicle emissions is a great way for the brand to take an environmental stand and be socially responsible, which not only offers a great service to customers but is a strong brand promise.

This week showed that customers crave strong interactions with brands, and companies that can provide that personalized service and connection can create loyal customers.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of two books, “The Customer Of The Future” and “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.

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