The Devil is in the Details: User Experience Design’s Impact on Customer Retention

Filed in Design, Public Relations by on October 13, 2011 7 Comments
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When it comes to customer experience, the devil is in the details.

A Chief Marketing Officer can create a broad sweeping, exceptional branding program but can lose countless customers based on the smallest, tiniest interaction—even something as simple as an online password reset. This concept became crystal clear on a personal level past Saturday when doing something as mundane as ordering more coffee. I have a Keurig and I order K-cups from them online. Unfortunately, this time I could not get into my account. I tried the password reset feature, but it wouldn’t work. Needing to reset my password is not a reason for me to “leave” Keurig. How Keurig handled my password reset is why. When I could not get in, I submitted a customer service request to Keurig and Googled “K-cups” which immediately lead me to Amazon.com to order my coffee. Then, I forgot about it. Amazon delivered my coffee four days later… and hours after that my customer service request response arrived from Keurig. I got my coffee before I got my help from Keurig! Unfortunately the response from Keurig was not only very late, but also generic in nature. To make matters worse, the email instructed me to call an 800# for help. Keurig.com does not offer enough value for me to spend my time on the phone. Additionally, I already had a better experience at Amazon.com where I found a greater flavor selection and lower shipping costs. At this point, yes, a simple failure of the password reset lost Keurig a customer.
How to Ensure that Every Detail is Perfect
How can a company avoid such customer losses due to such a little function on their website? Does a CMO need to see every little detail, in every little interaction with the customer? No. Keurig’s customer experience failure occurred because of three, bigger picture issues (these my are assumptions based on the outcome I experienced) that can be mitigated if a company can: 1. Engage and Empower Employees: It appears as though Keurig front-line employees were not compelled to give me a timely, personalized response. I accept that the IT system may be forcing the need to telephone in.. but why? Can’t someone from Keurig just reset my password on the back-end and email me the new one directly? Or telephone me and leave it on my voicemail (I registered my machine so they should have my number). Engaged employees, whether they are front line or back office, realize that everything they do contributes to the customer’s experience and they are empowered to make decisions to ensure outstanding customer experiences. Employee engagement starts with corporate culture and is reinforced with training, rewards systems, and hiring practices. 2. Create Programs Based on Your Customer, Not the Competition: I did not take those extra steps to get back in and order at Keurig.com because Keurig did not provide an incentive. It strikes me that Keurig had loyalty points for the sake of having a loyalty program. Instead, talk to your customers and find out what they really want. These are my personal desires, but I want greater selection, free shipping, and maybe free “tasting packs” instead of loyalty points towards my next machine. Because how long is it going to take the first machine to break anyway? It’s easy to listen to customers – simple interviews and surveys are a great start. 3. Embrace User-Driven Design Not IT-Driven Design: I may be inaccurate here, but the Keurig.com ecommerce site strikes me as an out of the box engine designed to accomplish things, but not designed to meet customer’s needs. Sure, you can start with a template-based engine to save money and time, but then talk to your customers and adjust the functionality to meet their needs. If you roll with a template as is, then you are not providing a unique customer experience, but really the same experience everyone who bought that package provides. Usability research comes in many flavors, styles, and cost ranges from simple Go To Meeting based user interviews to complex, lab-based studies. Usability research on your web and mobile platforms is an investment that ensures you never lose a customer to a minor functional issue again. With all this said, do I regret buying my Keurig machine? No, it’s truly a wonderful machine. I have had other one-cup brewers and this is the best. The coffee taste is as close to a coffee shop as you can get. When it comes to product design and functionality, Keurig hit a home run. I’m sure Keurig is very focused on the customer experience when it comes to their product, but it is a shame that they were unable to extend that focus to other customer touchpoints. Will I buy another Kuerig again? Probably. Will I buy K-cups from Keurig again? Probably not. Perhaps K-Cup revenue is not a large factor for Keurig, but what they have lost is even more valuable—Keurig has lost an opportunity to stay in frequent contact with me and establish themselves as “my coffee company.”
What do you think, [wlm_firstname]?
Have you had a bad customer experience? Share your story, and what you think the company should have done. [/ismember] [nonmember]

When it comes to customer experience, the devil is in the details.

A Chief Marketing Officer can create a broad sweeping, exceptional branding program but can lose countless customers based on the smallest, tiniest interaction—even something as simple as an online password reset. This concept became crystal clear on a personal level past Saturday when doing something as mundane as ordering more coffee. I have a Keurig and I order K-cups from them online. Unfortunately, this time I could not get into my account. I tried the password reset feature, but it wouldn’t work. Needing to reset my password is not a reason for me to “leave” Keurig. How Keurig handled my password reset is why. When I could not get in, I submitted a customer service request to Keurig and Googled “K-cups” which immediately lead me to Amazon.com to order my coffee. Then, I forgot about it. Amazon delivered my coffee four days later… and hours after that my customer service request response arrived from Keurig. I got my coffee before I got my help from Keurig! Unfortunately the response from Keurig was not only very late, but also generic in nature. To make matters worse, the email instructed me to call an 800# for help. Keurig.com does not offer enough value for me to spend my time on the phone. Additionally, I already had a better experience at Amazon.com where I found a greater flavor selection and lower shipping costs. At this point, yes, a simple failure of the password reset lost Keurig a customer.
How to Ensure that Every Detail is Perfect
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About the Author ()

Raelin Musuraca is a researcher and designer focused on leveraging new technologies and innovative thinking to champion the customer experience. Over the last 20 years, she provided strategic planning and design services to several Fortune 500 companies. Raelin provides strategic planning and design services focused on integrating all customer touch points in the delivery of consistent brand messaging and the ideal customer experience.

Comments (7)

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  1. Jim Campbell says:

    Great story Kevin. One person alone cannot be in charge of and fix customer experience issues. That is incumbent upon everyone in the company. What you experienced Kevin is a company, not just a person, whose culture is also broken. Thank you for sharing that!!

    Jim

  2. Jim Campbell says:

    I’m Starbucks too (the third place). Great story Raelin!!!

  3. Thank you Jim. You’re so right – poor customer experience cannot be corrected “tactically” – it starts with culture.

  4. Heather Varela says:

    Interestingly, I just signed up for a social membership to read the rest of this article. After clicking the confirmation e-mail, I eagerly returned to the site to read the rest! But no luck… although I am logged in to the site, I still can’t access the article. I logged out, shut down IE, and re-opened the site, logged in again, and — no luck! Funny I am having a terrible user experience trying to read an article about terrible user experiences. So much for Ideahaus!

    • I just saw your comment and checked into your membership settings. Our system is showing you are “unconfirmed” which means we sent you an email to the address you provided with a request to click on a link. This completes your registration process.

      Please check your trash or spam filters – sometimes our email will get sent there as it’s the first one from us – and complete the process. If you can’t seem to find it please let me know and I will have support manually confirm you.

      Sorry for the inconvenience signing up. I hope the effort we make on addressing your issue helps make up for it. – kp

  5. Kaleb says:

    What some companies don’t realise is that be allowing the employee to respond to the situation on a case-by-case basis it empowers the employee and in an organic way produces a highly legitimate brand advocate.

    Good business is often about trust – sure if can backfire but when it comes off it’s great business.

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