Train brands like Kim K

Kim Kardashian tweeted that she had a problem with Jack In the Box. She then clarified that it wasn’t her, personally, but that she had observed others having a problem and wanted it resolved. After Jack in the Box got over the euphoria of having break-the-internet-Kim actually admitting she ate their junk food they got on to her twitter feed in 26 minutes and resolved the problem. Unlike Snap which lost over a $1 billion in market value after Kim’s sister said she never used it, Jack survived unharmed.

On the face of it you would think that this is the level of customer service ALL customers should get. But can all brands support the cost of this customer responsiveness?  As per a recent article in the Economist even that bastion of customer service, Japan, is having to drop its levels of service due to profit pressures and falling labour availability.

I am not at all advocating short-changing customers. But of setting the correct expectations. I don’t complain about the lack of seats at a Udipi restaurant because you are fully expected to stand or “adjust”. But when I’m asked to share a table for breakfast at the Trident, I’m all snooty and unpleasant.

On the other hand, Uber does a great job of training you to have, frankly, low expectations. They cheerfully refund your money on the app for rides that are cancelled or where drivers mysteriously can’t spot you waving from the other (correct) side of the road. Just don’t ask to speak to someone or get an apology. Domino’s app stops responding with updates after the stipulated 30 minutes. Their promise is to give your money back if they fail – not to actually produce a hot pizza on your doorstep. These are low cost models where customer responsiveness is considered a luxury. They are probably doing the right thing in teaching us to have low expectations. Perhaps other low cost models like telecom and airlines needs to move to this too instead of trying to respond to things out of their control on Twitter.

Understanding how important is a response to your customer in your product category is key here. One size definitely does not fit all. Zoom Car’s recent interactions (or lack thereof) with Kiran Jonnalagadda are being shared widely on Twitter Disputing a Rs 8000 charge on a Rs 21,000 overall bill certainly requires more finesse than is being displayed. Either they invest in better resolution handling or they go the Uber-Domino way of refunds for all.

There also has to be a different response mechanism for different types of complaints. For example one touchy issue for Amazon in India is that they get into trouble for products misusing images of Hindu gods in the US marketplace. Rather than wait for these to become formal complaints they might want to have an alert system where customers can flag these offensive goods and they can be validated. Amazon is famed for its customer service and responsiveness, but it needs to keep all stakeholders in mind.

So think about whether you want to invest in customer service, customer experience, failure recovery or preventive maintenance. All four require different tools and approaches. And if you’re exploring the topic of CX I strongly advise you to visit our #letstalkcx in Association with Oracle section – it has a lot of useful content in one spot.


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