Are we wasting our time perfecting the customer experience?

As marketers, the rule of unbeatable customer experience is right up there and we spend a lot of time and energy on getting it right. But after a rant to some of my friends this week about the service I was given, I wonder if we’re wasting our time.

Secret Marketer

Case one: Sunday lunch at a pub. Like most people, I like to peruse the menu before ordering, and it seems a bit odd to be in a pub without a drink in your hand. So I ordered a pint. I was somewhat taken aback when the barman said that due to people leaving without paying, they did not operate a tab system, and that unless I was ready to order, I would have to pay for the drinks first then make a separate transaction for the food. Odd, but so be it. The problem came when we decided to have dessert. I’d been doing as asked and paying separately for everything but when it came to dessert we were hit with the “sorry, minimum payment by credit card is £10” – and a couple of desserts came to less than that.

We left the pub, minus our pudding, and headed to the local supermarket.

Case two: by the time we got there it was 5.01pm, and an army of security guards blocked our way, saying we were forbidden to enter the store due to Sunday Trading Laws. Apart from wondering why retailers haven’t yet lobbied the Government over this inane law at a time when businesses are desperate for every bit of custom they can get, my beef was that the retailer had higher security stopping people entering the store than it had had all day to stop people stealing things.

I told these stories to friends and they were amazed – but not at my examples of poor service, at my anger. “Life’s like that”, “just accept it”, “go to a different pub/shop” was the without-exception response.

So just how important is it to get the customer experience right? As marketers we sweat buckets to ensure the experience is perfect, that customers feel welcomed, that their purchase journey is smooth. But if my experience is anything to go by, your normal customer can live with operational hurdles – it’s the marketers who can’t.

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