A Customer Experience Wish List for 2018

As we say hello to 2018, certain business practices and trends are sure to follow us into the New Year. For instance, personalized experiences, meeting customer expectations, and protecting customer data continue to be important aspects of the customer experience. At the same time, a new year calls for a fresh start. And with that in mind, I have a list of ways businesses could begin transforming the ways they treat customers and their data. Here’s my customer experience wish list for 2018.

1. Products and services that live up to the hype
It’s very disappointing to find a discrepancy between what was promised and the actual customer experience. For instance, Domino’s Pizza app claims customers can monitor their order “from the moment you place it until it’s out for delivery or ready for pickup.” The app even provides the first name of the person delivering the order.
However, customers have found the app isn’t entirely reliable, reports the Wall Street Journal. A customer told the Journal that the app told him the delivery person’s name was Melinda and he was surprised when a man showed up with his pizza.

I said, ‘Hey Melinda,’ and he was like ‘what the f—are you talking about?’ Ever since then, I knew everything they said, I felt, was made up. I was like, ‘I wonder if, when they say they’re putting it in the oven, if they’re actually putting it in the oven?’

Other users claim the app indicated that an order had been delivered when it hadn’t, or that there were large discrepancies between when their pies were supposed to be delivered and when they actually arrived. A spokesperson’s response to the Journal was that the mistakes were unusual and due to human error.

Mistakes happen, but that’s more reason why companies should focus on getting the basics right (like accurate and timely deliveries) before adding extraneous features that only create unrealistic customer expectations.

2. Quickly acknowledging mistakes and providing a (genuine) solution
Some factors are out of a company’s control, but when problems occur due to negligence on the company’s part, customers deserve to know as soon as possible and receive fair compensation.
The Equifax data breach is an especially galling example of executives who are deaf to their customers’ needs. The company waited weeks before alerting 143 million customers that their personal information had been exposed in a massive cyber attack.

And it gets better. The company waived credit protection fees for victims only after it received a deluge of customer complaints. And for several hours its official Twitter account accidentally directed consumers to a fake website before journalists pointed it out.

A company’s first response may be to wait until all the details have surfaced before crafting a carefully worded message, but it is negligent to delay sharing information that could help customers protect their data and finances. Executives today should assume it’s a matter of when, not if, they’ll experience a data breach and have an incident response plan in place for responding to breaches quickly.

3. Not asking for more data than what’s needed
Businesses need to know who their customers are and what they want, but it’s a turn-off to ask for more information than what’s necessary. Uber, for example, was criticized for a controversial feature that allowed the firm to track the location of passengers even when they weren’t using the ride-hailing app. Although it defended the feature as a way to improve its service, Uber eventually dismantled it. As consumers become more selective about the companies they share their data with, businesses must work harder to earn their trust.

4. Transparency, transparency, transparency
In an era marked by data breaches and dynamic pricing, I appreciate businesses that are transparent about how they operate. Some companies, like Jet.com, equate transparency with choice by giving customers options in payment methods, shipping speeds, and other factors that affect the total cost of the transaction. And under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into force later this year, organizations will be held accountable for a greater level of transparency in how they collect, process, and manage the individual data of EU citizens. It may be wishful thinking, but even companies that aren’t affected by the GDPR would do well to treat all customer data this way.

 I admit these are broad requests but the point is there are plenty of opportunities for business leaders to provide better customer experiences. Implementing just one of these requests would do wonders in driving up customer loyalty and revenue. So, those are my CX wishes for 2018. What’s on your list?