A few weeks ago, I had two very contrasting customer experiences. Both experiences got me thinking about what makes a customer truly stay loyal.
I have a little brown package that I keep on my desk – it contains a Lexmark 44XL printer cartridge. It’s a visual reminder of a very challenging experience.
When a cartridge I ordered on-line was “out-of-ink” two weeks after it I received it – I called Lexmark and spent 2 hours trouble-shooting “why” with various agents. When the replacement cartridge hadn’t arrived after another two weeks I attempted to cancel the order and have them refund my $46. They refused (another hour wasted) and a week later this box arrived. I, in the meantime, purchased a Canon to replace the Lexmark. After 20 years of being a loyal Lexmark customer I won’t be purchasing anything from them again.
During the same time period, I purchased a gorgeous pair of boots from Browns on-line. Sadly, they didn’t fit. I called Brown’s, and with no questions asked I received a “return code” and UPS was at my door the next day for pick-up. That call lasted about 2 minutes. I was relieved and thankful that they made the process remarkably easy (the Lexmark experience was still vivid in my mind).
I wasn’t expecting the moon from either of these transactions. I simply wanted my problems addressed in an efficient manner. I wanted to inject as little effort as possible and I think this may be a common sentiment shared with the vast majority of consumers.
If I was to express my sentiment, as an equation, the equation would probably look something like this:
High Customer Effort (HCE) + Poor Customer Experience (PCX) = I’m Gone for Good
Low Customer Effort (LCE) + Good Customer Experience (GCX) = I’ll Think of You Again
I’m not saying that LCE + GCX is a guarantee that I’ll do business with any company again – I may not have the need or there may be other factors involved – but I certainly will think of them in the future should the need arise.
Long and the short of it, in the world of on-line purchasing a seamless customer experience is critical to future business – and the “seamless” experience spans the purchase, the shipping and, when necessary, the returns process. Give your customers their expected level of service faster, easier, in the manner they prefer, solve their problems with as little effort on their part and get out of the way, you’ll have more loyal customers and a better bottom line.
By the way, if any of you need a Lexmark 44XL printer cartridge, just drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you’re willing to cover the shipping, it’s yours!