Halloween pumpkins
It's scary how many companies are still struggling with customer experience. PHOTO: Thomas Malyska

In the spirit of Halloween, let's discuss a frightening reality: Companies still don’t realize the importance of digital customer experience.

We’re not talking about the mom-and-pop stores that have  intentionally eschewed the digital world because they succeed with good, old-fashioned salesmanship.

We’re talking about major corporations, digitally-connected enterprises, the $30-plus-billion dollar companies with ample resources and about 30,000 people behind the controls ... the companies that should do better for their customers but continue to fail at digital customer experience execution.

Digital Table Stakes

My own personal experience with one of these companies convinced me of one thing; namely, that a solid digital customer experience program may be table stakes to some, but often no one comes to the table in the first place.

My experience is best described in numbers: nearly 10 customer service calls, one tweet, six-to-eight direct messages on Twitter, a few emails, one mobile app interaction and three-to-four trips to a brick-and-mortar store.

We’re looking at 20-plus customer interactions over an eight-week span. Phone, social, email, web, mobile app. Eight weeks? Eight seconds is too long for some consumers demanding customer service today.

(The imperative of excellent digital customer service is the theme of CMSWire's second annual DX Summit, a three-day event that kicks off Nov. 14 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago.)

Where's My CRM Profile?

Worse, each person leading each interaction had virtually no record of my prior interaction. “I don’t have that order here. We can’t find that order number. I don’t know about that promise. Let me see, when did you last call us? What did that previous agent tell you again?"

I can't imagine what my CRM record looks like. Wait, does this company even have customer relationship management software? 

My goal was to get a replacement phone. My model was recalled, and I had to get a new one.

On one customer service call, I was promised a new phone on a specific date. That never came, and when I called, the representative had no clue of that prior promise.

Full disclosure here: often I waited days to interact with this company because I was so frustrated I just used my son’s phone. So that delayed my anticipated outcome. Maybe I just hoped they would deliver my order without additional contact. 

Field Trips

In between, I went to nearby brick-and-mortar stores. I was sent to “other” stores because “we don’t do that.” One rep told me he has no clue how to give me a new phone and that “his manager is off today” so I’m out of luck.

Finally, about three weeks into my journey, a representative actually gave me an order number for a new phone. I even got an email receipt.

One week. Two weeks. Three weeks. Radio silence from the company. I made more calls, and no one could locate my order number.

About four weeks after my so-called “order,” my replacement phone came in the mail. 

Victory! Well, not really. This company has a long way to regain my trust. 

Understanding My Story

Had there been a good program in place, they would have understood exactly where I was on my journey each step of the way, and, because of it, my case probably would have been solved a lot earlier. That's all I want — understanding. Knowledge of who I am and what I want. Personalization 101, right?

It never happened.

Are my phone calls synced with my Twitter direct messages? Did they see my harsh remarks in a customer survey? Is each action I was promised documented in CRM to ensure a follow-up?

Digital customer experience is an imperative. You can consider me a super patient and passive customer, and even I'm disturbed. Some customers in my shoes would leave the company that first day if they didn’t have a positive outcome.

The really scary part of my ordeal? This company produces amazing technology that truly does make lives easier and connects people and people to information in fascinating ways. Yet, they left me to fend for myself in a digital communication haze.

CMSWire's DX Summit

We’ll address these critical issues at our DX Summit

Diane Magers’ workshop on Monday Nov. 14 stresses why connecting with your customers begins with educating, enabling and engaging everyone in the organization.

Gerry McGovern’s workshop the same day discusses a management model that truly focuses on the experience your customers have when they are using your website or app, and why delivering the right content is essential to the online customer experience.

These conversations will continue for three days in Chicago, led by speakers including Cathy McKnight, Meghan Walsh, Howard Tiersky, Andreas Knoor, Piyush Patel and Malek Tayara. We're also diving into virtual reality and augmented reality with Fabio Matsui. Check out the full agenda.

It’s going to be a great three days in Chicago. Three days. If only my digital customer experience had been 1-2-3: 1) Address the customer's problem; 2) Generate an order; 3) Happy customer gets package in mail.

Not so frightening, right?