How to Master the Art of Creating Appalling Customer Experiences
Updated: May 18
Our world is filled with some brilliant examples of Appalling Customer Experiences especially on digital. Mastering the art of crafting these gems is a challenge because most websites and conferences talk about how you can create incredible customer experiences. What if you are one of those people who would like to annoy the living daylights out of your customers? What if you would like for your customers to never come back to you ever again? If this is you, you have reached the right place.
The offline and online world are more similar than we’d like to believe. When we talk about E-Commerce Websites, we are really talking about your virtual store. Your website is actually your store front and your geeky developer sitting in one corner of your office is in reality a member of your store staff. The person who uploads content onto your website is a merchandiser and the person who sends push notifications, emails or posts on social media is a salesperson. Digital ad distribution is much like someone handing out flyers to passersby. But for some strange reason we live in a world where there are Digital People and then there’s everyone else. So, let’s try to make this worse! I’d like to share with you 10 things to master to create Appalling Customer Experiences.
1. Convert your Customer Journey Map into office décor
Office walls need relevant content to keep the workspace looking vibrant. Hire a consultant or organize an internal workshop complete with a millennial facilitator wearing khaki’s and a t-shirt and use multi-colored post-it notes. Spend at least three days working out every aspect of your customer journey. Work out in excruciating detail the minutia and once you are done, get your best designer to convert the Customer Journey Map into a gigantic masterpiece and put it up in the office. Spend a lot of money making sure that the print quality is the best that money can buy. Years later when people tell you about how the world is constantly changing and your customer journey needs to evolve, remind them that Michaelangelo did not go back and edit his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. If it was good enough for Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, it is good enough for you. Remember, the place for Customer Journey Maps is the elevated status of office décor.
2. Speak only to like-minded colleagues and stakeholders
There are only two types of people in this world. The first are Digital people and the rest don’t matter. When you are talking to people at work, talk only to people who understand the random jargon you throw at them. If you cannot use terms like PPC, SEO, SEM, Pixels, CTA, CTR, CRO, A/B Testing, UI, UX, CSS with a person in conversation, look down on them and avoid any further conversations. Their opinions don’t matter because there is nothing on this planet except Digital. People who are ‘Digital’ are cooler than the rest and the only reason companies employ non-digital people is because of a social obligation companies have to provide employment. Remember, you are cooler than the rest because you ‘Get Digital.’
3. Drink Green Tea and stop worrying about website speed
From time to time as a digital person when you make the mistake of talking to non-digital people, they will worry you about trivial things like website speed. This is the point where you must remind them about how many years you have been doing your job and that there is a false notion that speed is everything. If speed was important, why would a flight from London to New York take 3.5 hours in 2003 and 6 hours in 2019? Surely if we wanted everything to be faster this would be the other way around. After giving them this example of the Concorde and the Billions of Dollars behind that project make yourself a warm cup of Green Tea and sip on it slowly.
Green Tea has been proven to contain bioactive compounds that improve health. In fact, it is also known to increase fat burning, greatly improve physical performance and by improving brain function makes you smarter. So, sit back, relax and let your customers see the white screen on their browsers while your website loads. Smartphones now have bigger batteries so customers can spend more time staring at their beautiful screen as it loads the content from a server far far away. Remember, good things come to those who wait.
4. Find something that works and don’t change it. Ever!!!
In our organizations, we have things that work and things that don’t. Once you find something that works for you on digital, on your website, APP or Social Media platforms, don’t change it. If you posted an image on Facebook and it worked, stick only to images no matter what the market trends show when it comes to other formats or platforms. Ignore what people are telling you about Instagram, TikTok or the next big emerging platform. If you created a digital ad in 2004 with lots of text and it worked, don’t change it. If customers loved it in 2004, they will love it in 2019. Remember, history repeats itself. You don’t need to change.
5. Think Desktop First!!!
Some people think that the desktop is technology from the 1980’s and 90’s. What people very conveniently forget is that history repeats itself. To master the art of creating Appalling Customer Experiences, always — ‘Think Desktop First’. In fact, if you can, don’t think beyond Desktop.
When hiring a UI/UX company, ask them to present the new designs for your website. Give them a lucrative contract only if the first wireframes they present to you are for Desktops. That is the kind of company you want designing your future. A good Desktop design will help you convince senior management that you should still be in their employ. Remember, your customers may never see your desktop site but that doesn’t matter because they are not the ones playing your salary.
6. Testing on multiple devices is a waste of time
When launching a website or digital product, specify just one device and browser it will perfectly work on. Your customers must feel privileged that you have made something for them. In return, they must follow all your instructions. If you lose control here, you will end up having to test your product on multiple devices and browsers and this is a costly and time-consuming task. Buying multiple devices to test on only puts money in the pockets of big consumer electronics manufactures. Don’t help them hit their targets unless you have something to gain from it.
Don’t waste your time testing your services on Facebook or Instagram’s in-app browser. Your customer should know better than to use an in-app browser when they have a perfectly good browser on their smartphones. They should click on the option to open in the default browser, see your website on their device and realize that your website is best viewed on Desktop. Remember, everyone should use Google Chrome, it saves time, energy and money.
7. Focus on the Technology and not on the Customer’s Needs
The technology you implement in your organization today becomes the headline on your Résumé tomorrow and lands you an even better job where you can implement another solution that will help you soar to a whole new level. Don’t let the customer’s needs get in the way of your ambition. What customers want is usually very simple and basic. Giving them what they want only serves them and does not help you feel good about solutions you have implemented. Digital is all about the technology and the latest trends. The best way to land a better gig is to upgrade your CMS, add your service to a new platform or implement buzz word technology. These are things that your customers don’t seem to appreciate. This behaviour of theirs confirms that they are not like-minded individuals and hence can be looked down upon. Remember, it’s all about the technology and that leaves no space to think about what customers want.
8. Make Time the most important KPI when dealing with customers
Time spent with a customer should be the most important metric you measure. The aim should be to spend the least possible time dealing with customer queries. Online Chat solutions are great but ensure that you don’t let your customers ask you questions that are basic and already part of your FAQ’s. Never connect with a customer because they then start asking you more questions and eventually 6 minutes later, they have ruined your average interaction duration and 8 minutes later they are asking you to join their family WhatsApp group. You don’t need that sort of commitment. Customers must be dealt with swiftly and superficially and a ‘more info’ link should be shared with them as soon as possible to cut conversations short. Remember, customers who reach out to you, have nothing better to do.
9. Do everything manually. Automation is for wimps!
There’s a distinctive joy in doing a good day of manual labor. The satisfaction you get by going to the office in the morning and manually sending out emails to your customers, or adding email addresses to a custom audience by manually downloading the data and sorting and filtering it in Excel is a joy that very few people can experience. Today people are talking about Marketing Automation and dynamically using cookies and pixels to target and retarget customers. This multi-platform synergy and automation takes the craft out of the business. Automation makes you a wimp! Don’t ever lose the tag of being able to say that your emails are ‘hand crafted’. Automation will lead to you losing your job and having to update your Résumé again. Remember, automation is bad for the environment and it causes global warming. “How dare you?”
10. Never meet your customers
There is a rumour that customers are people too. This however is fake news. Digital people who work in E-Commerce, Social Media, CRM, UI/UX should never meet customers. They should remain in the office facing the wall with your Customer Journey Map and leave the premises only after sunset. Meeting customers results in them learning new ideas and adopting suggestions that are really immature, basic and always contradict the development path you have chosen to take based on your conversations with like-minded colleagues. Listening to customers results in the need to allocate more development resources and results in wasted time and more importantly results in your green tea going cold. Remember, to get your product to market soon with the use of the latest buzz word technology, don’t let anyone from you Digital Teams ever meet customers.
There you have it. If you can do all these things with diligence and dedication, one day, you can Master the Art of Creating Appalling Customer Experiences. Go on, make the world a horrible place!
(This article is a summary of my presentation at the Digital Experience Now Conference in September 2019.)