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A good customer experience is more about predicting than reacting

Too often I read about customer experience being measured with metrics that could be applied to any generic service: availability, mean time to respond — mean time to repair (MTTR for both, quite confusing…), etc. and usually this comes from the same companies that measure, and market, the quality and benefits of a product through cold specifications: size, price, more of this and more of that.

What does this say about the type of relationship these companies want to have with their customers? Three things in my opinion:

  • They are focusing on what happens after sales, so they do not consider you a customer until you have handed in your money
  • For them good customer experience is only about fixing something when it breaks
  • They can’t enjoy the rewarding feeling of helping a customer to go through a satisfying, worry-free, experience.

All this boils down to the fundamental misrepresentation that an efficient after-sales support means good customer experience. But actually, fixing something that breaks is expected and normally paid for, so I would argue it doesn’t even deserve the adjective “good”.

An excellent customer experience is when a company knows what triggers people to get excited, happy and positively surprised and delivers that in the most humble way. And the more detached it is from the money transaction, the more genuine it will feel.

Take Google Photos and its Assistant function for example. It knows you through your photos and videos (as you have agreed to share those with Google) and seamlessly creates beautiful stories and reminds you of events that happened years ago at the right moment (i.e. birthdays and anniversaries). With this, Google is avoiding to enter in a comparison with other services only based on gigabytes and file formats supported, but instead offers you something that can not be rationally measured, but so well crafted that will get you to use their service more often and happily so.

Also Uber does something very special. Uber uses driver phones as a backup datacenter so trip information can not be lost if a failover occurs. As stated in the article, “The traditional approach would be much simpler. I think it is to make sure the customer always has a good customer experience and losing trip information for an active trip would make for a horrible customer experience”. Uber goes through the pain of implementing a more complicated solution because they understand the value of delivering flawlessly what the customer is paying for: after-sales support is never a “good” customer experience.

Both these examples contain two very important elements: knowledge and prediction. A company has to use what is known about the people it is serving to predict behaviours and needs, and then provide services even before they are requested. This will generate a positive surprise which will lead to a happy and long lasting relationship. Isn’t it quite similar to what a good family and friends do?