The customer isn’t always right…

A recent customer experience led me to think about how customers don’t always get it right…

We’ve all done it, clicked ‘purchase’, entered our payment details and clicked ‘confirm’ – only to realise that we’ve made a daft mistake.  The wrong date, the wrong venue, the wrong timeslot.

Should be an easy fix?  Contact Customer Service, a quick chat with a helpful rep and they’ll change the details for you.

Worst case, cancel the order and buy again.

I did this the other day, ordered some tickets for an exhibition online,  as soon as I confirmed, I realised I’d booked for the Friday, and I wanted the Monday.  My mistake.

Customer Experience Mistake

Contacted a rep, who was incredibly polite but couldn’t edit my order, cancel my order or refund my order.  The Terms and Conditions I’d clicked, allowed for no changes or cancellations, his hands were tied.

I suspect I could have pressed on, complained, made a big deal of it – but a £15 purchase didn’t warrant a massive issue. I repurchased for the correct day, and now I have a spare ticket which I’ll give to someone as a gift.

The poor Customer Experience left a sour taste.

Customers will make mistakes, a good Customer Experience will allow them a way to recover from a mistake without being punished for it. Click To Tweet

As you walk your Customer Journey and analyse the emotions a customer might feel, it’s worth considering the mistakes they might make and the exceptions those create and then consider how your policies and processes create a good impression in those situations.

Costco has a legendary returns policy, anything can go back (except electronics) as long as you have the receipt – which even allows for mistakes or buyers remorse.

Should your Customer Experience include a way for customers to make mistakes?

After all, the customer isn’t always right.

Heavy Rotation – March 2017

An occasional look at what media and music I have on heavy rotation. See previous editions here.

January is typically a poor month for new music, but I have found a few decent albums to keep me warm through the greyest of days.

  • Marlon Williams / Make way for Love – Kiwi singer songwriter who continues to stun, with a modern twist on vintage country.  Love his voice and songwriting.  Was due to see him live in March, but snowmageddon meant the gig was postponed to April.
  • Hans Zimmer / Bladerunner 2049 – Watched the movie during March, and was blown away by the soundtrack. Listening to the album on its own is also great, an epic, sweeping soundscape that is perfectly set for the time of the movie.
  • Franz Ferdinand / Always Ascending – Really enjoying the sixth studio album from these guys. Decent pop songs with a nice art-rock groove. Always like their stuff, and have played this a lot since its release.
  • Tracey Thorn / Record – A long time, but not a long way from the music she did with Everything but the Girl, one of the finest voices in modern pop returns with a great selection of tunes.

All album links in here will take you to Spotify. Let me know what I should be listening to in the comments.

Working Out Loud Circle – Week Eight

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Our circle was back to full strength this week – a square at least, assembled on Friday to invigorate us ahead of the weekend.

So what did we do this week?

To me, week eight feels like a long way into any journey. An eight-week ‘project’ should be someway toward significant progress by now, and the question in the weekly check-in seemed appropriate; ‘What has been the best thing for you so far?’

It was great hearing the different lenses that my circle friends had for their answer. Mine focused on the ‘Mut Anfall’ idea that has become the unofficial name for our circle, courage attack – and the idea that each week I work through the exercises I get a little bit more courageous in my approach.

Coincidentally, this morning (Monday) I was listening to a comedy podcast on my journey to work and Aisling Bea (Irish comedian and actor) said:

“We don’t live as much as we should, because of awkwardness” – Aisling Bea

This resonated with me, much of Working Out Loud is about finding tactics to make connections and interactions a little less awkward.

We talked about building habits, the focus of Week 8 and how people build habits into their everyday life.  I found this week an easy reach, I practice building habits into everyday life in a quite deliberate way:

  1. Define the goal I want to achieve (e.g. Blog post every day or Thirty minutes exercise every day)
  2. Write out a calendar showing the month
  3. Tick each day off – or write in the achievement

This way, the month becomes a game, fill all the gaps and you’ve achieved your goal.  It doesn’t work forever, but the best attempts yield the best results for me.

I shared my checklist approach with my group, and how successful it is sometimes.

Checklist ManifestoI also shared a recommendation to one of my favourite books – The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande  – which explains how introducing a culture of checklists helped break down complex tasks into a simple set of instructions to be ‘ticked off’, I found it a powerful indictment of an approach that I follow.

The final exercise of the week was to talk about introductions, we whizzed through this one as the general consensus was that the group was already very good at making introductions with context and empathy – what a great circle we are!

My key takeaways

  • Checklists – still as simple, still as powerful!
  • Building a game around the WOL concepts I am trying to cultivate is a motivation way of getting it done.

What did I do after this weeks meeting?

  • Started working on breaking down a few of the things I want to do to further my WOL learnings into a set of actions I can build a new checklist for. It works for me, so I’ll carry on!

Sunday Six Pack #6

Time to relax, pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the Sunday Six Pack, all killer, no filler, just six of the best links curated from a week of reading. Previous editions here.

Compiled whilst listening to George Fitzgerald – All that must be. 

The Sunday Six Pack - great reading from across the web, curated for Sunday enjoyment Click To Tweet

Remember: Hope you are behaving yourself

Before Email, Twitter and Instagram, people used to send postcards.   I collect these vintage postcards, for their messages as much as their pictures.

Hope you are behaving yourself - Belfast - vintage postcard from 1961 Click To Tweet

This vintage card was sent from Belfast in 1961 – with a message I imagine written from a father to his daughter.

Continue reading “Remember: Hope you are behaving yourself”

Friday Customer Experience Pack #6

Every Friday, I’m going to round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

Good Customer Experience is born across the company and requires strong & committed leadership. Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.

The Overton Window

During my podcast listening yesterday, I heard a reference to ‘The Overton Window’, here’s a short description of a very interesting concept.

The Overton Window is a political theory that refers to the range of policies that voters will find acceptable.  It is sometimes referred to as the window of discourse.

Named after Joseph P Overton,  who claimed that the viability of an idea depends on whether it falls inside the window. The range of acceptance are as follows:

  • Unthinkable
  • Radical
  • Acceptable
  • Sensible
  • Popular
  • Policy

Ideas that are at the ‘outside’ of the range, unthinkable/radical require either; change to become more sensible and popular, or the window needs to change.  The example I heard yesterday was that the abolition of slavery was deemed a radical thought, but successive focus bought it into more acceptable, sensible and populist thinking before it became policy.

We can see this in play all the time, in politics the radical ideas that are promoted in the media are often at the outside of the window so that the ACTUAL policy proposal is deemed more acceptable.  For example, ‘Ban all Cheese’ is an absurd and unthinkable idea – so in comparison, a ‘Tax all Cheese’ policy seems more sensible and is more likely to become a policy.

This is the tactic that politicians play all the time, to stretch and move the window of acceptability in order to get their policies in place.

However, it’s also a technique that salesmen can use.   This object is £10,000 usually, but I’ll give it to you for £7000, by stretching the possible price upwards the buyer might think they have a bargain for the item which is really worth £5000. It’s easy to get drawn in.

Ensure you aren't caught up in the Overton Window when you are making decisions or forming opinions. Click To Tweet

Universal Basic Income

I spent my morning commute listening to Scroobius Pip interview Rutger Bregman about his new book, Utopia for Realists. One of the core subjects was the concept of Universal Basic Income, which has interested me for a long time.

The idea of a Universal Basic Income has been around for over 500 years, but only recently are we starting to see experiments to see if it can become a reality.  Often, it is described as a new way of thinking about welfare by ensuring that ALL citizens are provided with a basic level of income, regardless of whether they work or not.

A Universal Basic Income puts choice into the hands of citizens, creating new markets and cutting down on the bureaucracy of the state trying to intervene (and save money) in all cases.

The thought of an unconditional income that raises all citizens above the poverty line might seem utopian but in fact, the benefits could be way beyond the simple uplift of people from potential hardship. Click To Tweet

It is no secret that the world of work is changing. Automation, AI and algorithms will reduce the need for humans to work, and whilst a leisure-focused future awaits, there will need to be a shift from consumption to creation.

Our current thinking drives young people towards work, even against their dreams and wishes.  How many talented artists and musicians have ‘stored away’ their aspirations to pursue a degree and take an unrelated job that brings them an income.  Universal Basic Income might allow those people to foster those ambitions with a safety net, and create more than consume.

Even today, there are a high number of people that would like to spend time contributing back to society; volunteering, spending time with family and helping out with schools.  Working part-time is not an option.  However, half a job plus UBI could create a world where two people do a job, reducing unemployment and bringing people back into the world of work where jobs will become more scarce.

Like all big societal shifts, this thinking seems radical but is gaining a lot of support.  There is a two-year trial underway in Finland, and the Adam Smith Institute has been urging world leaders at Davos to consider the idea.

For me, the idea of preempting the shift to a world with less work and more leisure, less consumption and more creation and a way to encourage people towards more meaningful pursuits than just chasing a wage.

This video explains Universal Basic Income in a really simple way:




Working Out Loud Circle – Week Seven

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Our circle was reduced to three this week, does that make it a Working Out Loud Triangle?  Still, as usual the discussion was an interesting & energising way to start Friday.

So what did we do this week?

Our routine is well established now, we spend our first minutes checking on progress since the last meeting, and hearing about peoples successes is a nice way to set the tone for this week.

Moving onto the exercises, we read through the ‘letters from our future selves’ and I was impressed with how the rest of the circle had done this. The letters seemed to have very definite visions of the future and some clearly defined pathways.

For me, this was the hardest exercise so far in the WOL journey.  I didn’t manage to achieve this before the meeting, and afterwards, I spent a lot of time struggling to get this down.   I pride myself on being able to ‘grind’ something out when it gets tricky, but a letter from my future self just seemed impossible.

We discussed the challenge, and the rest of the group were supportive – with their own experience as good input to helping me tackle this.  I’ve reflected hard on why I found this difficult, and I think it’s down to how I approach work as a whole.

I am usually very execution focused, my entire role revolves around taking vision and strategy and breaking it into small steps that mean I can constantly move forward.  Whilst I can contribute well to the vision, I have to see a roadmap and a plan – and this exercise didn’t take me there.

Apart from that, I never really make plans for my life – I pride myself on being agile and flexible and this ‘crystallisation’ of the future is not something I find easy.

We discussed how writing the letter is one thing, but reading it back was really powerful, and how we might share aspirations in our online profiles and world.


My key takeaways

  • Envisioning the future is not easy for everyone, but it can be a powerful tool.
  • Reading back your goals and aspirations can really increase the impact of the exercise.

What did I do after this weeks meeting?

  • Reflected on the difficulty I had in completing the exercise
  • Wrote a draft of the letter, which I’ll spend more time on the future
  • Resolved to ‘forget’ this weeks exercise  and look forward!