2014-10-July-Car-Lot.jpgThe elusive promise of the seamless customer experience might be within reach, but sometimes seamless doesn't equal good -- or great -- customer experience. Are we focusing on the wrong things?

The Mobile Gateway

We are still reading about how the mobile change and with it, another shift in channels is coming, including this piece by Ted Schadler of Forrester, co-author of "The Mobile Mind Shift." In it, he writes:

Mobile has increasingly become the go-to device to fulfill a consumer need”

Schadler caveats his assertion with “has increasingly become,” where I think he could be bolder and simply say "it is.” But the assertion that our mobile phones are the number one go-to device for almost every enquiry in life rings true.

Yes, the majority of transactions still happen in store or online, but the rest of the customer journey is owned by mobile devices. Mobile phones are the first thing we reach for when questions come up and that includes enquiries we have during a customer engagement.

According to research by Pew last year:

46 percent of showrooming shoppers still ended up making a purchase in-store, an 11-point increase from 2011.

Mobile is intricately meshed into our consumer behavior. It’s not a single channel -- it’s a gateway to “omni” as we use them not just to engage brands over the mobile web, but email, apps, social media. We also use them for the physical relationships of boarding passes and train tickets.

But, none of these things provide a great customer experience (let alone omnichannel), and if you can’t do that, the channel is irrelevant. Let me give you an example.

A Car Rental Desk, An Almost Empty Parking Lot

I recently found myself in an amateur production of Seinfield's rental car sketch as I stood at a car rental desk and was downgraded from my full size car reservation to a compact.

As the lady at the desk surveyed an empty car lot (aside from this one compact) she laid out my options -- “take the compact or cancel, we haven’t charged anything to your credit card yet.” This did not either a. meet my customer experience expectations or b. help.

After I left the car lot in the compact and checked into my hotel, I shared this experience over Twitter, including the reference to Seinfeld. I got a great response from the rental car company social team and eventually it was resolved -- but the ultimate service I got from the company was overall, not so great.