Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Brands & System Design

How many times has a brand's computerized system made you frustrated or angry? Have you ever had to enter your user name and password more than once to get what you wanted either online or via the telephone? Have you been offered a price discount as a valued customer only to not receive it because the link on the push email sent you to the website without recognizing you? Have you ever encountered an automated customer service system that does not provide a choice for the issue you are trying to resolve? Or how about the automated system that keeps sending you in an infinite loop, never to reach your destination? How about when you have to explain your problem over and over again to each new person because they do not have a system of shared notes? My favorite is holding for say 30 minutes only to discover that the automated system sent me to the wrong department, resulting in another 30 minute hold. Once, I had this happen with four different telephone number transfers. I was really upset by the time that I finally reached the person who could help me. 

I encountered one website that only allowed me to buy one ticket at a time. (I wanted to purchase multiple tickets for the event.) I had to reenter all of my information including name, contact and credit card information for each individual ticket purchase. How ridiculous is that?

Most recently, I booked flights on Delta Airlines for my wife and I using Expedia's online platform. (I have been an elite status member of both Delta and Expedia for years.) Unbeknownst to me, the only Delta tickets that Expedia listed were Basic Economy fares. I booked my flights and discovered at the airport that we had no seat assignments. We were assigned separate middle seats in the back of the plane at the boarding gate, were boarded in the last boarding group and there was no room for our luggage in the passenger compartment. I politely inquired about this at the boarding gate, reminding the gate agent of my elite status, only to be told that I had purchased basic economy tickets with no frills. The gate agent even subtly implied that I was a cheapskate and that I got what I paid for. The only problem is that I did not know that I had purchased Basic Economy tickets and I was not given an option to purchase a better ticket. My wife kept asking me (sarcastically), "So, this is what you get for your years of loyalty and elite status?" I am definitely annoyed at both Delta and Expedia. 

The point of this blog post is to indicate how important system and process design is in creating and maintaining brand loyalty. 

On the flip side, I am a very loyal American Express customer. Why is that? Because their customer service systems work very well and I have always been treated very well by their customer service representatives. Ditto with Ritz-Carlton systems and employees. 

When designing your brand experience, don't forget about the role systems and process design play in customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

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