Technology is not the solution for your customer experience problems

Techology is not the solutionIt appears too many companies, particularly startups, rely too much on the technology tools in attempts of scaling their business.  In markets, where most customers have at least 3-5 companies that promise to deliver similar solutions for their problems at similar prices, customer experience is the only true differentiator. The company that provides the simplest path from on boarding to desired customer outcome, will most likely own their market segment. Yet, most companies give much more thought to their marketing efforts to attract potential buyers than to prevent their paying customers from living.

For almost a year I was a customer of SocialOomph. In spite of their convoluted interface, I was able to schedule my content for publishing, until someone decided to change their billing process and the name they used to debit my credit card.  An unfamiliar name on my credit card statement prompted me to notify my bank and that caused SocialOomph to cancel my account. When I realized what happened I send them an email asking how my payments and service could be restored. I’ve never heard back from their customer support. The phone number is available on their website along with the message that discouraging its use. When I called, the voice message directed me back to the customer support’s email address.

Given the well publicized reputation of Canadians for their politeness, it is very unsettling to experience the “Soup Nazi” treatment from the company based in Canada – “No SocialOomph for you!”.

There are 4-5 companies that offer seemingly similar services at similar prices. Their websites are not particularly descriptive as to how they differentiate from each other and “free” test drive offers require credit card information. I could not find any customer reviews from those who have done business with any of them and was not in the mood for risky experiments.

All of these companies sell technology based service to social customers, but none of them seem to have a grasp of a social customer’s perspective.

That brings me to the point of this article – commerce, whether it is conducted online or at brick-and-mortar, is inherently a human activity and no technology can replace empathy and understanding of your customers’ journey. The transactional website analytics, that tracks clicks and time visitors spent on specific pages, does not help to gain that human perspective. Technologists often think that unique attributes of their offerings are more critical to success than fuzzy customer experience. They are wrong. No technology is good enough to make your customers forgive you for not caring for them. Many of them will abandon your business as soon as they find a provider replicating your service’s functions and offering a better experience. “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”.

An outside-in view of your business is by far more critical to your growth than any technology you can deploy to promote or automate it.

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10 Responses to Technology is not the solution for your customer experience problems

  1. Pingback: Technology is not the solution for your customer experience problems | L'Actualité SOI

  2. Lynn Hunsaker says:

    I agree, Greg. It’s really tempting to think that an off-the-shelf plug-and-play solution will solve 80-90% of needs. That’s false. And it’s not about customization. And there’s no substitute for people and process to a great extent. What’s actually true is that most of the CX technologies are for remedial CXM. To fix stuff that wasn’t done right the first time by the company. Here’s more on this subject: “Don’t Confuse CX Technology with Customer Experience Management”

  3. Craig McVoy says:

    Technology is just an enabler and whilst it needs to be embraced as customer channels evolve, the real difference can be felt through having a strong customer culture in your organisation

  4. Ashley Williamson says:

    Even though I do love tools and more and more they tend to surprise me as tech evolves, they have only ever been there to assist in hitting goals. People are what drive success. Recruiting, training, engaging and keeping real TALENT will provide ideas and energy fit for purpose. BUT, consistency of excellence can be the biggest differentiator in business and that’s where tools can be useful. That said, if you ask a tool perhaps the wrong question, then your output may not be too useful. Know the factors of success for you, then use insights to refine your success #nomagicwand!

  5. Sara Feldman says:

    I agree with all your points! It’s too easy to rely nearly 100% on the data (especially when you have to collect it for other business processes) and not understand the true experience. What are your recommended strategies for getting the “outside-in” human perspective?

  6. Martin Taylor says:

    Quite often, ill thought through technology led ‘solutions’ actually just make ‘bad practice’ really slick…

  7. Yiannis Maos says:

    Great article and completely agree, technology is often relied on too much without first understanding what the customer wants. Also loving the Seinfeld reference 🙂

  8. Sunil Seth says:

    Agreed completely. Never was, never will be!!

  9. Gregory says:

    Sara, the best approach IMO are the one that let your customers tell you about their experiences in their own words. Really listening what they say and emphatically analyzing to understand how their experience can be simplified, without sacrificing your company’s profit margin, is the strategy. Many companies have VoC programs that ask customers to rate or score specific elements/attributes of their experience – that is not listening as the survey questions are invariably inside-out biased.

  10. Gregory says:

    Great point Ashley. A company cannot deliver consistent experience without use of technology, but a technology is not the starting point – the experience is.

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