Quite often when we are looking into a service for the first time, we ask our clients if they have used their service themselves. All too often it is the customer who ‘test drives’ a service and consequently the customer experience is left to chance, particularly if the feedback process is ineffective.
This week my wife and I were shopping in a large retail store where we regularly go, and mostly we have a good experience. They often ask us to complete on line customer surveys and are obviously interested in improving their service. Their on line channel is also easy to use, and consistent pricing and look and feel gives us a impression of a well oiled machine, geared to serving our needs. That was until last week. An item was out of stock in store, so we thought of looking on their web site to see if we could order from there. Sadly the item was also out of stock on line but right next to the message informing us of this shortage was another inviting us to call a number ‘If out of stock please call us’. Well this sounded promising, so I called and explained I had not been able to find the item on line, and the agent informed me that he couldn’t do very much himself, he was just a switchboard, however he could put me in touch with my local store. (this doesn’t sound promising I thought, that’s why we were on line in the first place, the store didn’t have the article). Going along with this for a while I agreed to be connected to the store on the offchance they had some more deliveries. The call was answered by a very helpful assistant who asked for the store code of the item. The only number I could quote was the internet stock number, but that was not the same as the store stock number. In the end she went into the store looking for a black top with circle design (which is all we could tell her). Needless to say this was not a fruitful exercise and we closed the call on a friendly note, but it left us less than satisfied. Clearly the stock numbers on line and in store would need to match if this extra service was to work effectively. However how would we have felt if the suggestion to call had not been there? For me I would have simply thought ‘oh well, they are out of stock, must be a popular line’. Whilst looking like a good idea, it needed to be tested end to end, to make sure it would work. The fact that the stock numbers do not match would then have been noted and perhaps the instruction to call if out of stock not introduced until they did. This experience marred what was until that point a really good customer journey, It’s worth testing all your customer journeys, not just when they are designed at the beginning, but every time something is added or removed from customer facing channels.