Often, in a bid to improve their customer service or experience, companies and brands find themselves focusing just on how they can add a delight or wow factor to their customer service or experience. In doing so, they tend to overlook the minor glitches or frustrations customers might have when they do business with them.

However, in doing so they risk ignoring the very things that customers tend to remember.

It’s a bit like walking to your next meeting and appointment or a date and noticing that you have a piece of grit (small stone) in your shoe. Now, you may be a bit pressed for time and the grit doesn’t hurt so much that you have to stop to remove it. However, it’s always there and once you arrive at your destination, what do you remember about your journey? The grit in your shoe, right?

That’s all to do with how the memory works and the fact that we, generally, remember feelings and particularly annoyances and disappointments better than anything else.

The great American poet and author, Maya Angelou, had a great way of putting it when she said:

“People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”

The same principle applies to the customer service and experience that we deliver.

Case study or scenario of the insight in action

Ruter, the public transport body of Oslo, uses this principle in improving it’s customer experience and is continually investigating the things that annoy or irritate their customers. In fact, on realising the power of this insight, Ruter’s CEO made a public announcement saying that Ruter’s strategy from now on was to ‘stop irritating you’.

Doing so has earned him and Ruter a large amount of respect and credibility in Norway.

In practice, Ruter has made a series of small changes to how it operates its business including changes like letting their customers wait, for the time when a bus is ready to depart, inside the bus rather than outside in the bus shelter in the cold.

What to do next/Action points 

So, how do we go about locating and removing the ‘grit’ in our customer experience?

There are two things that you should do:

  1. Ask your customers a question like this: “Is there anything that we do, however slight, that annoys you or has annoyed you in the past?” and
  2. Ask your frontline staff what customer issues or problems keep recurring.

Asking these two questions will give you all the clues that you need to ‘remove the grit’ from your customer experience and dramatically improve it.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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