Redesigning CX: Loyalty vs Policy
Is it Taco Tuesday or not? A good incentive plan allows revisions and makes space for human behaviour, desire paths and customer innovations.
Businesses introduce offers and discounts to win new business and retain existing customers, then immediately trip over themselves when their employees fall under the umbrella of ‘that’s just policy’. The analysis below shows how quickly a business alienates a customer instead of winning them over for good.
Tuesday is everyone’s favorite taco day, except for this customer. Let’s see the story first, and then look at a better (Taco) day afterwards.
First, here’s the story:
Actual Customer Experience Scenario
An employee answers the phone at a dining establishment.
Employee: “Hi! Thanks for calling [restaurant]! My name is [employee name]. How can I help you today?”
Customer: “Hi, [employee name], I’d like to place a to-go order please.”
Employee: “All right, what can I get you?”
Customer: “I’ll have fifteen soft beef tacos, please.”
Employee: “Will that be all?”
Employee: “That will be $38.07.”
Customer: “It’s Tuesday, though. Aren’t tacos $1?”
Employee: “No, ma’am. That’s for dine-in only.”
Customer: “But I was there earlier and they gave me my tacos for $1 each.”
Employee: “Did you sit at a table and have a waitress?”
Employee: “That’s dine-in. To-go orders are regular price.”
Customer: “But tacos are supposed to be $1 on Tuesdays!”
Employee: “For dine-in only.”
Customer: “We were going to come there and eat them!”
Employee: “I’m sorry, what?”
Customer: “I was ordering them ahead of time so we wouldn’t have to wait!”
Employee: “That’s not how it works, ma’am.”
Customer hangs up.
"If the customer is annoyed and embarrassed enough, this exchange ends the relationship between the customer and the restaurant."
The employee responded in line with policy, but the customer is not interested in policy, only results. The above interaction embarrassed and disappointed the customer – which is evident in her attempt to backtrack. The employee was curt and unsympathetic. It is reasonable to assume the employee decided she had a customer ‘trying to pull a fast one,’ and was trying to shut it down. However, the employee is not at fault, although less sarcasm would go a long way. “Did you sit at a table and have a waitress?” – that might make for funny reading (shout out to those with dark humor, I see you), but is an awful customer interaction.
The improvement to this, like most customer experience design, exists at the operational level.
"Recognize an opportunity to reward loyalty."
After a strained customer interaction, it’s time for some explanatory questions. Why not make Taco Tuesday available for both dine-in AND take out? Whatever revenue may be lost in a discount price – could it be made up in the best type of customer referral, word-of-mouth? Some well-placed questions then yield an attractive theory that easily deserves a pilot test. A good incentive plan allows revisions and makes space for human behaviour, desire paths and customer innovations. Falling back on the fine print as the reason for telling the customer ‘no’ is the quickest way to lose a customer. There is always a creative approach to reconcile the situation by keeping both the customer and the business.
The customer indicates she was in the restaurant earlier. What we have is a loyal customer, and instead of being rewarded, she endures the employee plodding through set company policy, and sarcasm. Management could recognize an opportunity to reward loyalty (it may come in an unexpected form such as a demand or a complaint), and ensure employees are trained accordingly.
If $1 tacos must remain confined to dine-in customers only, then how about sweetening the deal with some other discount? If the employee refers to other take away combo deals or discounts, the customer still saves money, which is what she wanted, and more importantly, she saves face. This article isn’t about yielding to all or any customer demands – it’s about why management should recognize the importance of finding creative solutions to enhance customer experience.
If the customer is annoyed and embarrassed enough, this exchange ends the relationship between the customer and the restaurant. Future revenue from continued custom vs. $23. The employee has cost the business one customer. What about this particular customer’s friends and family, and anyone willing to support her point of view that ‘corporate policy’ ripped her off? Hmm, the numbers don’t add up so well now, do they? It doesn’t matter that the customer misunderstands the business policy, it matters that the customer feels let down and influences others to withhold their custom. This ripple effect could have been a positive one. Instead, it is a negative one for the organization.