Alexiane's journey: from frustration to understanding the impact of CX

All companies need to deliver a CX commensurate with their brand perceptions. Failing to do so can cause significant damage to customer relationships and lost sales. As someone that lives and breathes orchestrating great CX, it was informative when I was on the receiving end of a frustrating, drawn-out buying journey.

One point I continually try to emphasize to businesses looking at their CX is this: no matter what industry you are in, you will be compared to those companies that are seen as able to deliver exemplary experiences.

This will only become more pronounced: the availability of technologies like generative AI means that highly sophisticated and powerful personalization has become more accessible. The barriers to entry are lowered, and soon, the smallest, one-person operation will be able to engage with audiences at a similar level to much bigger, more established brands.

And it will be the established brands that will struggle to respond: 76% of senior executives are still working on, planning, or have not aligned on a comprehensive generative AI roadmap to broader business goals.

The gap between brand perception and CX reality

I have experienced this firsthand. A recent transaction with a well-known brand left me frustrated and disappointed in the company’s seeming inability to deliver a CX equal to how it is perceived.

One of our employee benefits at Orange includes money off coupons for various brands, including one of the world’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers. With my coupon, I got a discount on the clothes steamer I had my eye on.

Initially, my experience was positive; the manufacturer, despite mainly selling through third-party retailers, had a modern, responsive ecommerce site. In no time at all I had the steamer in my basket and I was ready to check out. I added my code and payment details, saw the discount had been applied, and pressed pay.

Frustration upon frustration

That’s where things started to go wrong. My transaction was abandoned. A bit frustrating, but I tried again—several times. The problem was that the system now seemed to think my code had been used, so it refused to apply the discount. So, even though the transaction hadn’t gone through, my discount had been spent.

After several attempts, most consumers would try an alternative, such as a different brand or a third-party retailer, or maybe abandon the purchase altogether. However, I persevered. Having no luck online, I tried voice. First, there was an interactive voice response (IVR) menu. However, there was no clear option for my challenge, not even a general inquiries number. I selected a choice at random, hoping to speak to an agent.

Fortunately, the agent could not have been more helpful, restoring some of my confidence in the brand. They listened to my query, and even though my product wasn’t part of their department, they got me a new coupon code.

I then returned to the website, redid the transaction, put the code in, and…it wouldn’t work.

I couldn’t face dealing with the brand again. Fortunately, a colleague shared their coupon with me, and…it worked. Success!

The transaction went through, and I received a track-and-trace email, which didn’t work. One final, frustrating issue that, while minor, is exactly the sort of tipping point that can turn dissatisfied customers into full-blown detractors.

I did receive the steamer, and it works just as I want. Yet, in a way, creating and (eventually) delivering a product that is so good only serves to underline how poor my buying journey was.

Tech friction causing CX failures

Many brands are still wrestling with delivering a consistent experience across all channels. The brand I dealt with clearly knew how to make excellent products. Things started to fall apart getting the product into the hands of the customer.

This is a major problem for businesses. It isn’t an isolated experience – I’m sure everyone reading this will have interacted with companies that failed to meet their expectations. Only 26% of customers described their digital experiences with a brand they have an existing relationship with as excellent.

This needs fixing. What was once considered acceptable CX is no longer good enough, and the standard for what good looks like is being raised daily.

Brands can’t trade off their reputations; they can’t just cross their fingers and hope that their disparate technology investments will create a great CX. As Clare Muscutt, a CX expert, notes, “Building a great customer experience doesn’t happen by accident; it happens by design.”

A lost opportunity

For those businesses looking at CX to stand out, that means understanding that experience is not the preserve of one function but of the entire business. Every decision and every change can and will affect the quality of customer interaction.

Ultimately, the majority of businesses today understand how critical customer experience is. Yet there is a gap between what they should deliver and what they manage; even the largest, most well-resourced businesses struggle to execute experiences that match their ambitions.

We’ve all seen this firsthand. In my case, while I eventually achieved my goal, the overall experience was poor. Would I buy from the brand again? Probably not directly; the brand has lost the opportunity to build a deeper, more valuable relationship with me.

Alexiane Moor
Alexiane Moor

Alexiane is a passionate CX professional with more than eight years of experience in business development and management focused on customer experience, digital and data, consultancy and go-to-market strategies. Her mission is to help clients transform their customer experience and achieve their business goals by leveraging CX solutions and technologies. She is also responsible for coaching and developing the CX culture within our organization and fostering collaboration with our European partners.