Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Manage Experiences

Posted on: May 3, 2012

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

Few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a super market, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about few of those models, and asked the sales person.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any question my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forget machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store’, she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain her how retail industry works. ‘This super market deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products, it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division which looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division which makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions which take care of the selling process and Support division to take care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions have their own problems / solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your twitter page / facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touch points can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management, that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!



N. Chokkan …

03 05 2012


5 Responses to "Why Not? — Manage Experiences"

[…] Published In : This entry was posted in Brand, Case Studies, CEM, Change Management, Collaboration, CRM, […]

Very well analogized with simple examples. And yes, as businesses shift from Service Level Agreements to Business Level Agreements and more importantly from vendor to trusted partner mode it is only imperative, end to end customer engagement and experience management is vital.

I think the expectations of your friend and your wife cannot be equated. An online ticketing site is just an aggregator who provides his customers (your friend, in this case) a consolidated view of various options. They do not play the role of a traditional travel agent and are not expected to play an advisory role. At the most there might be a place for the user to talk about his experience and if there are issues such as cancellation, the site is expected to help the user get back his money. Would you hold theaters responsible if the movie was bad? (I love dealing with this movie examples!:) )

Whereas, a salesperson in a retail store is expected to play the advisory role. He is expected to answer questions. He is expected to compare and contrast the products he is trying to sell. Your wife was perfectly right in expecting that service to be provided and was right again in walking out when that service was not provided. If there is an issue with the product post purchase, rectification of that is still the duty of the manufacturer and the retailer may play a facilitator role there.

Would you say, I bought X brand TV from this store and since it is not working fine, the retailer is to be blamed as I paid my money to him? That is what your friend is saying. Which is not a correct expectation. But let us say there is a website that just gives the name of the product that they sell and the price as against another site that provides pictures, detailed description, compare and contrast similar products, etc., which is the website you might go to? The latter one. That is what your wife did.

In my opinion, your friend had wrong expectations, whereas your wife had the right expectations.

[…] Why Not? — Manage Experiences This entry was posted in Facebook, Forums, Free, Social Marketing, Twitter, Uncategorized, WordPress and tagged business, king, management, marketing, purchases, research, sales, stumbleupon. Bookmark the permalink. ← Here Comes Another Pre Launch MLM Opportunity! […]

Regarding your wife case, i am not sure in India, in Dubai retail shops, every company has their own representative to market their products (not the retail store). So, instead of just attracted to a specific guys demo, better to zero on few brands and explore the same in few shops. Otherwise its so confusing and then we wait for somebody to market to us better by going to various shop. E.g. of washing machine, zero on few brands (via Samsung, LG) and then explore the range within our budget and feature by looking at their product catalog and ask as many questions as we want rather leave it to the store guy to just exploit (some case good marketing guy sell bad product !). But I agree nowadays with so many choices, its highly confusing. So its like the same website service, it is up to you to decide not the retail guy. (how u choose a specific bus service from the site rather leave it to them to decide).Flipkart is doing good service, but we need to choose the product. But sometimes one size does not fit all concept also apply here

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