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Have you had an experience like this?
I stared at the screen. It took me all of 90 seconds to set up my account with this new app. I was so excited. I had heard a lot of buzz about it. It was supposed to help increase my productivity and reduce my time spent doing mundane tasks like searching through all my folders to find that document I really, really needed.
Now that I was in the app, I couldn’t figure out what to do next. I searched frantically through the dashboard trying to find something that would give me an idea of what I was supposed to do next. I could feel my heart starting to pound.
The onboarding was so simple it was like turning on a 3-speed fan. One click and my first app was synched. Two clicks my second and three clicks my third. I felt so good.
“This is so easy.”
“If onboarding is this easy, then the app must be so simple to use”, I thought.
But it wasn’t.
Very quickly my excitement turned to panic as I desperately clicked around the dashboard trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next.
“How does this app actually work?”, I thought with frustration.
“Where’s the stupid ‘Help” button?”
“I need help now!”
The second onboarding step had me install the Chrome extension.
I clicked on the extension nearly frantically, trying to keep down my increasing desperation.
But the Chrome extension showed me the exact same dashboard – same layout, same lack of a help button.
When I tried to open a new Chrome tab, the dashboard showed up there too.
I opened 3 more Chrome tabs to the same result – the app’s dashboard.
Now I was fuming.
In less time than it takes to boil a kettle of water, I went from excitement to panic to frustration to anger.
I was not happy at all.
I right-clicked on the Chrome icon and chose–with a sense of relief– the “Remove from Chrome” option.
And that’s when I got a pop-up.
The app wanted to know why I was uninstalling the Chrome extension.
Now I had a simple choice – let them know what had happened so far and express my range of feelings and my newly formed negative opinion of their app and hope for feedback
close the tab and just ignore the feedback request.
I chose to let them know my feelings.
Statistics say that for every person like me who chooses to complain, there are 26 other people who have remained silent.
And that 89% of customers have stopped using a business because of a poor experience.
I’ve now become one of those 89% and just walked away.
And the frustrating part is I’m walking away because something as small as a ‘Help’ button or documentation wasn’t available.
Sometimes we get so excited about our products and services that we forget what the experience is going to be like for the customer. We know pretty much everything there is to know about what we do that we often make the erroneous assumption that others, including our customers, know what to do too.
Making the customer journey hard
We inadvertently make the customer journey difficult or frustrating.
And that can have serious effects on profits.
According to Forrester Research, 63% of people will leave a company after one poor experience. That means out of every 100 people, 63 will leave a business. Think about that for a second. Out of every 100 people, 63 will just up and take their business elsewhere because of a poor experience.
Look at my example, above. I stopped using this software right after signing up for it because my experience was so poor. I easily signed up but once I got into the app, I had no idea what to do. There was no documentation or even a help button to guide me. Given I was frustrated, I stopped using it. And I have no intention of going back. Even if the company does this (I’ll tell you what they could do in a bit), my experience was poor enough that I’m not interested in going back.
This begs the questions – what makes for a poor experience and what makes for a good one?
What is a Poor Experience?
A poor experience is a negative one where something doesn’t quite go as expected. It leaves you feeling frustrated, upset, or disappointed. It’s a blip in your day that you can move on from. A bad experience, on the other hand, might leave you angry, feeling disvalued or insignificant or feeling like you were just ripped off/taken advantage of. A bad experience lingers. Someone with a poor experience might post about it on social media while someone who just had a bad experience likely will post it to social media and also verbally tell numerous people about it.
(Just to show you how bad a bad experience can be – according The White House Office of Consumer Affairs – 48% of dissatisfied customers will tell 10+ people about their bad experience while a whopping 13% of those will tell more than 20 people! That’s a whole lot of brand bashing going on.)
#1. Poor User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI)
Have you ever downloaded an app or installed software only to be confused by the dashboard or the next steps you’re supposed to take? The experience I shared above was entirely a poor user experience. Once I was onboarded, I had no idea what to do next nor where to do the things I wanted to do. This was compounded by the lack of a help button or any sort of documentation telling me what I should be doing.
Having to click around, dig through or search to get things done in a new app or piece of software is frustrating. You’ve gone from being excited to use it, to being upset in a matter of a few minutes. That’s enough right there to make a potentially good experience turn into a poor experience.
I get that early versions of apps or software often lack features we want. If we know we’re using a beta version, we can tolerate a poorer user experience. However, once the product is live and out of beta, there should be an emphasis on making the UX the best it can be for the customer. After all, the app or software was built for them.
Shifting the focus to the customer and their experience will immediately reduce the chances of a poor experience. If you need to, contact customers directly and ask for their feedback to help you understand their challenges and what they’d like to see. Make it easy for them. Give them a quick and early win using your product so they can feel good about having taken the chance to try or buy your product. (To learn how to do this, check out Part 3 of this guide).
If your customers have had a good experience, according to The White House Office of Consumer Affairs, they’ll tell 4-6 people about their experience. That word of mouth sharing holds a lot of weight when others are deciding to buy your product or not. (Just think of when you’re looking to buy something and see a bunch of 5 star ratings and written reviews. Those stars and written reviews certainly carry a lot of weight for all of us in choosing whether we choose to buy a product or not.)
#2. Poor Customer Support
This is one place where someone can feel great or crappy, just with one interaction. Part of what I do in helping SaaS businesses reduce churn is to look at the customer support interaction. Customer support has a tremendous impact on a customer’s experience.
Here are some things that make for a poor experience:
1) Long wait times for chat, call or email response
2) Rep cannot answer question/fix problem but doesn’t escalate the issue or offer another solution
3) Blaming the customer for the issue
4) No response at all from customer support
These are not universally the same in terms of fixing. Some will take longer and are more complex. The one thing they do have in common is that by putting the customer in the center of the experience, the ways to fix these situations will become more obvious.
There are 2 ways to initially focus on improving the customer experience through customer support: 1) look at the ways in which customers get support (chat, email, call etc) and 2) the time it takes to get support.
1) Ways in which customers get support – map out all the ways customers can get support now including in-app, website forms and social media. Mapping it out allows you to see if there are areas that can be combined or areas that are missing. Then look at how these customer support requests flow through all those channels and identify places to improve the experience.
2) The time it takes to get support – We’re all challenged on time. Waiting for an answer when we need help asap can be aggravating. Much like you mapped out the ways in which customers get support, time the minutes, hours or days it takes customers to get support through all your various channels, including chat, calls, emails, in-app support, website forms and social media. Look for opportunities to reduce wait times by combining channels or simply changing the order of a customer support workflow.
#3. Misaligned Values or Goals
Ah marketing and sales. Sometimes they promise more than the app or software can deliver. When sales and marketing are perfect in describing what the product can do, our expectations are right in line with it. However, when marketing or sales promises something that the product can’t do, our expectations are misaligned. We’re looking for something the product can’t do and are upset that we were promised something that isn’t there.
If you’re wondering what I mean by this, I’ll give an example. I recently downloaded a productivity app that was meant to track my time online. The marketing had promised that I would know exactly where my time was being spent online. Good. This was what I wanted to know so I could change my online activities to more productive ones.
I installed the software and let it run for one week. At the end of the week, I got a report. The report showed me the breakdown of my time online – at a very broad level. It was so broad, in fact, that I pretty much knew already what the report was telling me. I was looking for a report that would be much more granular. Unfortunately, this software couldn’t provide that level of granularity although their marketing suggested they could.
Needless to say, I uninstalled the app after reading that first report because the marketing promise and my experience were misaligned.
Of the 3 areas involved in creating a poor customer experience (#1 was poor user experience/user interface and #2 was poor customer support), #3 misaligned values or goals is the most complex to address because there are so many factors involved.
I’ll offer some suggestions on what to do but bear in mind they’re only the barest beginning.
The quickest way to find out if your marketing or sales is promising something the product doesn’t deliver, is to ask customers what they’re hoping the app or software will help them accomplish. The best way to do this is to reach out to them directly and interview them. (By phone or video call is the best, so you can get rich and insightful answers that help you see what’s really going on.) Yes, this can be a challenge to do but once you start directly reaching out to customers, you’ll learn so much from them it will become easier to align your sales and marketing with their expectations, values and goals.
There’s a whole section on how to do interviews as well as what to do with them once you’ve gathered the data in Part 3 of this guide.
Take what your customers have told you and reflect it back in your marketing and sales. This will decrease the number of poor customer experiences stemming from misaligned values or goals.
Try Your Best to Make It A Better Experience
Creating a product and growing a business is a learning experience. Changing the number of poor customer experiences into good ones takes time and effort. But it’s so worth it.
Increasing the number of good customer experiences in your business,
increases brand awareness by positive word of mouth marketing,
increases profit by keeping customers longer, allowing for opportunities for expansion revenue and it decreases marketing costs by not having to replace customers that have left.
Creating a better customer experience simply makes financial sense.
This article started with a story about an app that I stopped using because of a poor experience. Even though I submitted a form telling them why I left (it popped up when I uninstalled the Chrome extension), I never heard back from them.
I’m disappointed because I had heard good things about this product. Unfortunately, my poor experience was enough that I won’t use it again, even if they add a help button, documentation and respond to pop-up forms.
For me, it’s just too little, too late.
But it doesn’t have to be this way for your customers if you give them a good experience.