Get bad experiences over early: Distinctive customer experience 2

[Guest blog by Anna Eggleton, Managing Partner and Head of Service Brand]

This is second of a series of posts on how to make your customer experience more distinctive, and it looks at the importance of getting bad experiences over early.

In customer interactions, there will almost inevitably be experiences that customers don’t enjoy but that they have to complete.  A way of optimising the customer experience is to look at your customer journey, identify the pain points that you can’t remove and pull them forward.  Behavioural psychology tells us that getting the bad experiences out of the way early enables customers to stop focusing on their displeasure and start looking forward to the desired outcomes.

Some brands and services have created propositions that capitalise on this principal but also use this moment to ‘bake in the brand’ thereby claiming this moment as one of their brand properties.

Below are some examples of where a brand property has been created around ‘getting bad experiences out of the way early’:

1. First Choice specialise in offering ‘all inclusive holidays.  Customers get all the pain – payment & planning – out of the way before their holiday. For families in particular this type of holiday allows them to be the parents they want to be.  When on the holiday they can say ‘yes’ to almost everything their children ask for rather than worry that all the little things will add up to a bill they hadn’t budgeted for.

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2. Boots Opticians specialise in putting the customer in control.
  Boots Opticians, a leading UK optician chain, gets its staff to fill in a ‘patient pack’ with its customers at the beginning of the eye check journey.  With most medical journeys there is a need for fairly extensive data collection but this can often feel repetitive and confusing for customers.  The Boots Opticians patient pack means that all the boring questions are asked at the start, in a format that can then be used at every touch point in the customer journey, leaving the customer to relax through the eye check and frame selection process without having the frustration of having to repeat information.

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3. Aloft Hotels specialise in getting you to your room fast.  Aloft Hotels in the USA, part of the Starwood Group,  offer a ‘smart check-in’.  On the day of a planned stay, a text message with the guest’s room number is sent to his or her smart phone. Once at the hotel, the guest can bypass check-in and go straight to their room where their key card unlocks the door. This allows them to bypass queues, tedious forms, and the scripted “How was your flight?” chitchat that most customers hate. If all goes according to Starwood’s plan, Smart Check-In will become an Aloft signature property.

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In conclusion, building brand properties around relevant points in the service experience is a great way to drive innovation and build distinctiveness into your brand.