Avoid These Simple, Commonly-Made Customer Experience Mistakes

Creating the perfect customer experience is a challenge for many of us. With so many aspects to consider, we may often find areas where we let our customers down unintentionally.

The important thing to do is to minimize as many customer experience mistakes as possible.

At Client Heartbeat, we have been guilty of providing some poor experiences. In the past, we preferred for our customers to use one support channel – email. It made it easier for us to manage support inquiries and we believed we offered better service through that channel.

Nowadays, we know our customers sometimes want to speak to an actual person and have their questions answered straight away. That’s why we use a unified support strategy where our customers can reach us via email, phone, live chat and social media.

In this blog post I’m going to discuss three customer experience mistakes that I run into all the time, provide a real example for each and give recommendations to help you not make the same mistakes.


1. Neglecting a consistent omni-channel experience

omni-channel experience

Daniel Newman, digital marketer and CEO of BroadSuite, defines omni-channel as a “reflection of the choice that consumers have in how they engage a brand, and therefore is best represented as how brands enable their clients and consumers to use these channels to engage with them.”

He goes on to say that marketers now need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of the channel or device. I tend to agree with Daniel. A consumer needs to be able to engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website or via a mobile app. They expect a consistent level of service and assume they have access to all the same products at all the same prices.

Big brands are leading the way with omni-channel retailing. Macy’s, for example, offers a great experience across their website, mobile apps and social media channels. In Macy’s annual report last December, they highlighted that the company no longer breaks down its sales by channel.

This is a strategic move and I see it being one that most companies will follow in the years ahead. No longer does the retail marketing team battle the online marketing team. Everyone is aligned with one single goal: increase revenue and profit across all channels.

A good omni-channel experience is no longer just a nice option to have. It’s become a must-have, but unfortunately most businesses are still treating each of their channels individually.

Dick Smith, an Aussie electronics retailer, is a great example of a company who is making a mistake in respect to neglecting the omni-channel experience. In talking to a representative at Dick Smith, he told me, “The online store is a different part of the business. We can’t handle exchanges in store. You need to speak to the online team.” In today’s world where we expect a consistent, unified experience from the companies we buy from, this is a big letdown. I found out later that in some cases the prices advertised via their online store are not honored in their retail store – wow.

I walked out of the store feeling like I was back in 2006 when retailers were still struggling to setup systems to manage their different channels.

What you can learn from Dick Smith’s customer experience mistakes:

  • Ensure a consistent experience across all channels. Customers are approaching their experiences from multiple angles. A report by MIT found that 80% of store shoppers check prices online, with one-third accessing information on their mobile device while in store.
  • Stop breaking sales reports up by channel. Dick Smith is obviously still reporting based on channel, thus they want to keep the different areas of their business separate. But this is hurting customers. They need to move away from measuring success based on channel and recognize that customers touch multiple channels before making a purchase.


Related: The omni-channel experience: marketing meets ubiquity


2. Offering only one customer support channel

multi-channel customer support

The multi-channel customer support era is here. Zendesk sums up the radical changes well in their “Guide to Multi-Channel Support” saying, “We are in a world where every business must consider the impact of offering multi-channel customer support; as well as what it means to not offer it.”

I don’t think I could have said it better myself. The realization is that in today’s world, if you restrict customers to limited support channels, you are offering a bad customer experience and you run the risk of losing their business. Your customers want multiple options of ways to communicate with you. They want to be able to phone you, email you, tweet you and even live chat you.

There have been a two big factors that have led us to where we are today. The recent growth of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have ushered in a generation of customers who are no longer willing to stay on hold for 30 minutes on the phone. Instead, they much prefer to tweet their questions via 140 characters. And guess what. They expect an answer – quick.

Furthermore, the rise of mobile devices has made it even easier for customers to reach you while they’re on the go. They expect to reach you when they’re on the bus, out at a client’s site or even in bed!

Let’s look at another example of a poor customer experience. Unfortunately, we’re going to be talking about Dick Smith again.

I ordered five tablet devices via the online store and noticed upon receipt that two devices were damaged with big smudges on the screen. I called customer support to exchange the products and was on hold for 10 minutes while the recording suggested that their preferred method of contact was via email. First mistake. Although you may prefer a particular customer support channel, it’s not your preference that you need to consider – it’s your customers! If your customer wants to use phone, email, Twitter – whatever – you need to enthusiastically offer them that customer support channel.

Anyway, I didn’t have all day to sit on the phone so I submitted an online inquiry hoping that I’d get a fast response since that was their preferred customer support channel. But after seven days I had nothing – no response.

After all this I ended up having to go into the store to talk to someone. It was here where I was told that the Dick Smith online business was separate to their retail business. They said they couldn’t help –again, no multi-channel customer support.

What you can learn from Dick Smith’s customer experience mistakes:

  • Offer support across all modern support channels. Dick Smith neglected to realize that customers prefer dealing with support using their favorite channels – not the company’s.
  • Make sure your support channels talk to each other. Dick Smith didn’t have a system that could connect phone support, email support and in-store support. By integrating all of their channels, they could have offered a more personalized experience.


Tools to help you offer multi-channel customer support:

All this added pressure on your customer support team will be hard to consume – especially if you’re a small team. We’ve faced our own struggles at Client Heartbeat – trying to monitor all our support channels and maintain our high levels of service is hard. But, that’s where tools and systems like Zendesk, Help Scout and Sprout Social can help. These tools can bring your support channels together and make some repeatable tasks just that little bit easier.



3.  Sending too many communications (emails, texts, calls, etc.)


Over-communication is a fast way to annoy your customers. Our modern world is hectic. Your customers are busy people that get hundreds of emails per week. They don’t need more communications that aren’t important to them.

Some companies fall into the trap of sending too many emails and SMS text messages. They think that they are offering a better service by keeping customers well informed, but in reality, it’s too much.

So what is over-communication?

Ken Makovsky, President of Makovsky + Company, describes over-communication as “repetition of the same message at least once, if not more” and questions whether over-communicating is annoying for the listener.

There are two sides of the argument. You want to ensure that your customer has received the message, but you don’t want to overdo it.

Ken suggests it is generally not okay to repeat communications, but in today’s world – with all the distractions – it may become the new rule. I agree with Ken, provided the rule is used with caution. In the situations where repetition is necessary, it should be done using a different channel than the first. For example, if you sent a critical confirmation message via email, it might be acceptable to send it again via SMS.

Dick Smith provides a great example of a poor customer experience due to over-communication. Instead of getting one order confirmation and one tracking confirmation email when I placed the order for five tablets, guess how many communications I received.

12 Emails and 10 SMS messages.

Wow. I ended up receiving order confirmations for each individual tablet, as well as follow up shipment notifications and SMS messages for each individual tablet. This was really confusing at the start because I didn’t know why I was getting all these messages. I even sent a support request suggesting they might have a bug in their system. Their response was, “In relation to your inquiry, please be advised that we have forwarded the information to the relevant department for consideration.”

Eventually, I worked out that the company had sent the five tablets from five different stores and thus I received five different order confirmations and five different tracking numbers. Again: WOW.

Not ideal at all and another great example of a situation that would benefit from the omni-channel experience.

What you can learn from Dick Smith’s customer experience mistakes:

  • Think about your customer before sending communications. Do you really need to send the communication or will it be overkill? Dick Smith felt the need to send all of those emails, but in reality, two emails and one SMS would have been enough.
  • Be careful of automated communications. Dick Smith has their email notifications set up automatically, which explains why they haven’t picked up on this over-communication. When relying on technology, make sure it is set up correctly and think about the end-user experience. The customer experience should always be the first priority and then you should find technology to make the experience work – not the other way round.


Related: 5 customer experience strategies that work


Creating the perfect customer experience is hard

Customers are becoming more demanding day by day. They now have high customer expectations and as a company, you need to adapt to these expectations or run the risk of losing them to competitors.

The point here is that no customer experience is 100% perfect. But, if you can avoid these common customer experience mistakes, you will go a long way to increasing customer satisfaction and building long-term customer loyalty.

Interested to learn more? I highly recommend these related blog posts:

Gordon Tan

Gordon Tan is an entrepreneur based in Australia who has started and sold multiple technology companies with a combined value of $150m. This included a client satisfaction benchmarking platform which gave him first hand insight into the best practices of over 6,000 businesses. After retiring at 35 he is now a recognised thought leader on winning and retaining clients - His two passions: making clients the heartbeat of a business no matter what the product or service and this blog.

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