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seamless customer experience

Providing a Seamless CX When Using External Partners

Effective Communication Between Customer Information Systems and All Involved Is Critical

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Few enterprise organizations are truly islands unto themselves. Most firms rely on partners or other subcontractors to deliver a part of the actual experience with customers. For example, automobile manufacturers rely on dealers to provide a significant part of the marketing, sales, and service experience, and real estate and insurance firms use independent agents to market and deliver their services to customers. Hotels and restaurants also often use a franchise model to broaden their geographic and market reach.

The common denominator with all these examples is that these partner organizations are not technically part of the parent organization. While certain standards and practices need to be met to retain an association with the parent, there is often less direct control over the day-to-day practices employed, particularly with respect to CX.

A common example can be found in the use of home delivery and setup services offered by retailers, commonly used for large or complex items, such as big-screen TVs, computers, or in-home internet or networking equipment. The retailer will sell the physical products themselves, but will contract with local companies to provide the actual in-home setup and installation services, particularly in regions where there is not enough demand to provide those services in-house.

This was the case with a recent interaction I had with a major electronics retailer. My 77-year-old mother needed a new TV, so I ordered one online from the retailer, and also purchased installation services. Because I paid for the TV via my account, I realized that my contact information on the account would be the one used for setting up an appointment, so I contacted the company via its online chatbot to confirm that the shipping and installation address was set to my mother’s residence, as well as ensuring that they had both her cell phone and home phone numbers.

However, a day before the scheduled installation date, I got a confirmation call from what I thought was the retailer. I asked if they had my mother’s correct contact information, but the agent indicated that they were a third-party installer, and they had no record of receiving the updated contact information. I provided it again, and reiterated that they should use my mother’s information to discuss any changes to the appointment, such as a delay or problem.

On the day of the appointment, however, the installer called me several times and texted me, rather than my mother, about a delivery delay. Although the installer ultimately showed up and completed the task, the disconnect between the retailer and the installer points to larger CX problems.

  • Lack of empathy: The retailer assured me that my problem had been addressed, but when I realized it had not been, there was only an explanation, rather than an apology.
  • Lack of follow through: Once I had repeated the correct information again to the installer, they still did not use it, which indicates that either the installer’s data systems were not providing the right information to the actual installers, or the installer simply chose to ignore it.
  • Lack of verification: In both cases, there was no confirmation provided to me that the change of information was made, thereby making me feel that the organization did not really care about whether the information was captured or properly used.

All organizations that utilize partners need to ensure that not only are customer information systems set up to properly communicate critical information, but that all agents of the company are properly trained on how to access and use that information. Perhaps most importantly, procedures need to be set up to communicate to the customer that the information they provide is being captured and used to provide a great experience.

In the end, both entities (the retailer and the installer) share the blame for a lack of responsiveness. As CX today is increasingly about demonstrating empathy with the customer, both organizations fell down, and as a result, I rated the overall experience (and customer satisfaction rating) lower due to this interaction.

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