Irrational creatures as we are, we don’t remember or recognize the whole of every situation. When evaluating experiences, we as customers tend to remember just the end result. This is referred to as the Peak-End Rule. Our CEO, Bill Cusick, dives into that and other customer experience concepts at length in his upcoming book: All Customers Are Irrational. Understanding What They Think, What They Feel, and What Keeps Them Coming Back. (We’re very excited about it!)
Case in point: my recent experience with the Park District. While I’m a fan of their camps, swim lessons and programs for little ones, their registration process is abysmal. So, while I may be an elated customer at the end of a particularly well-coached season of T-ball, I start the whole process over and remember why I don’t trust the “front office” experience. This registration process is enough to caution friends about.
Here’s a snapshot of what the registration process is like for one harried and frantic mom (me):
Step One: Try to remember my online registration information, which is not intuitive or easy.
Step Two: Go through entire online registration process, which is not user-friendly or focused in any way. It is also difficult to determine success until well past payment.
Step Three: Curse the lost 20 minutes of registration since for some reason it was UNSUCCESSFUL!
Step Four: Find the phone number on the printed catalog (since it’s not easy to find on the site).
Step Five: Call the number to discuss the situation with someone at the office. She informs me there is nothing they can do since they can’t see anything on their end. I’ll just have to wait and see.
Step Six: Miss the camp lottery deadline since “wait and see” resulted in no new information.
Step Seven: Find out I need to re-register completely and have missed the deadline. Every second counts to get in a remaining spot, or on the waiting list.
Step Eight: Discover the online system is down – AGAIN – and have no option but to fill out the form and fax to the number.
Step Nine: Receive confirmation and realize my registration numbers were not entered correctly. So filling out the days/times along with the program numbers was a moot point – the data entry was only concerned with the program numbers and mistyped my 7 as a 1.
Step Ten: Call the number and explain the situation, only to find out the class is full and there is a long waiting list. Settle for a much less desirable time and become #5 on the waiting list for the original class.
Part of my frustration with the process is the lack of empathy or understanding for my frustration. I have tried to follow the rules, only to become victim to their available tools not working. The lack of customer-focus in the beginning of the process sets up a frustrated customer from the start.
What could they do to solve this?
- Understand the typical customer. Develop personas so those dealing directly with customers understand where they’re coming from and what their situations are. Most moms like me are focused on getting our kids involved in great activities and making time to do this in between work, family, school, friends, etc. We’re busy. The #1 factor for us as customers is convenience.
- Walk through high-stress processes, like a time-sensitive registration, so those supporting the process can really get it. If something isn’t working, find alternatives!
- Make the online experience user-friendly and intuitive. Small changes could make a big difference. It’s time to call an outside resource (like Vox) who can help prioritize which changes will have the best impacts.
- Finally, ask customers to help! Get customers involved with web testing, phone support scripting and advisory boards. Your customers want to help!
The bookends of any situation are critical in helping us define them. Let’s hope the camp sessions will end on a high of awesome proportions. This will inevitably help me look back and forget (some) of the registration nonsense.
Phew! It’s only March and I’m already exhausted from summer swim classes!
Moral of the story: EVERY interaction defines your customer experience. How well do you know yours?