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Cynthia Clark | April 26, 2012

Customers Want Effortless Interactions

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struggle.jpgCustomers don't just expect the brands they do business with to deliver a great experience; they also want it to be effortless. Regardless of how fantastic a product is or how impressive the services, having to put in effort to make their relationship with a company work will negatively impact the customer experience.

The expectation that they don't have to work hard to get what they need from a company continues--perhaps becoming even stronger--when customers decide to stop doing business with that firm. For example, customers want an easy way to unsubscribe from mailings rather than have to jump through hoops to ask a company to stop cluttering their inbox with what they consider to be spam.

I recently decided to close three bank accounts I still have with my old bank back in Malta to stop paying charges for something I wasn't using at all. My first instinct was to use the secure site through which I have been managing these accounts to request the closure. Surely, since I could open a new account or increase my credit limit through this site, I could also close my accounts, I thought.

But I was wrong. After searching every section of the secure site and finding no way to make this request, I looked through the FAQs on the bank's main page, but was unable to find an answer. So I emailed the bank. Although the reply came relatively quickly, I was surprised to find out that unless I could go to a branch--which is unlikely since I live at least two flights away, the only way to close these unused accounts is to mail written and signed instructions to the bank. Although this might make sense from a security point of view, it's still inconvenient for me. If the bank is giving its customers the ability to manage their accounts online, including making money transfers, why not also allow them to close the accounts online?

The result is that regardless of how good my experience with this particular bank has been since I opened my first account when I was 14, I will always remember my last interaction and feel that this isn't a company that is easy to do business with. Thus, the likelihood of me ever choosing this bank if I need financial services in Malta--which, as an expat isn't unlikely--has diminished greatly. Just because it didn't give me an easy way out, the company has likely lost my business for good.

It is understandable that organizations don't like to see their customers leave. However, making them work to do so won't stop the customer from taking their business elsewhere. Instead, it will just make them unlikely to return.

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