Forrester's Andrew McInnes: The Human Impact of Improved Customer Experience

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
I just added up the time that I spent last week having frustrating interactions with companies as a customer: 1 hour and 10 minutes (roughly).

I just added up the time that I spent last week having frustrating interactions with companies as a customer:
1 hour and 10 minutes (roughly). I owe most of that to my wireless carrier, but a few other companies also made generous contributions. In each case, I ended the interaction feeling worse than when I'd started--edgier, tenser, more negative in general. It's not as if I could turn those emotions off, either. Petty though they were, they lasted a while. How did this affect my subsequent interactions with coworkers, friends, and family? I don't know exactly, but I'm sure it made them at least somewhat worse. And the impact rippled out from there. Not surprisingly, I'm not the only one feeling the social effects of bad customer experience. In a recent poll from the UK's Universal Channel, Brits reported spending an average of 1 hour and 19 minutes per day feeling angry.** The most frequently cited reason: bad customer service. Actually, many of the top 10 reasons relate to customer experience; some, like the last one, are just funny. Take a look:

Top 10 Daily Irritants That Put Brits in a Bad Mood

  • Bad customer service
  • Automated phone systems
  • Public transportation
  • Modern technology
  • Queuing
  • Traffic wardens
  • Dog mess
  • Learner drivers
  • Eating on public transport
  • Public displays of affection

Source: Universal Channel

I don't advise organizations to invest in improving customer experience because it's the right thing to do socially. I advise that they do so because it will drive long-term financial success. But what really helps me sleep at night is the knowledge that improving customers' experiences is actually improving customers' lives. It's creating less irritation and more happiness. No rationalizing required. It's just true (or else you're not doing it right).

I encourage you to think about the human impact of your work, as well. How will your current project or initiative make the lives of your customers (or employees) better? How will that impact ripple out into the world? This line of thinking may not help you get funding for your next big idea, but it will help you see the good in what you do. That's powerful in itself.

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** The first article I came across on this UK study was from a clinical psychologist. His recommendation for dealing with little irritants like bad customer service: Don't try to avoid "sweating the small stuff;" instead, learn how to complain effectively. Of course, that has implications for customer experience leaders too... especially if your customers take the author's advice.

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About the Author: Andrew McInnes is
an analyst at Forrester Research serving
Customer Experience professionals. He blogs at and
tweets at @apmcinnes