1 Good, 1 Bad, & 1 In Between Racing Experience

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I just completed another full marathon (26.2 miles) — my ninth. I started running almost ten years ago and my goal is to complete a tenth before the end of the year. The latest was the annual Eugene Marathon, a lovely run through the town and along the Willamette River. As someone who perspires heavily, the cool temperatures and the big trees make it a perfect place to run.

As I’ve done in the past, I love to share my lessons learned after completing a race and I seem to waffle between deep reflection about what motivates me and observations about the customer experience that we can learn from. On this occasion, I have a few customer experiences to share — one good, one bad, and one in between.

Good: Names Make a Big Difference

racebibIn this race, I grew to appreciate the fact that my first name was printed on my bib. This has become standard for many races. As the miles wore on and pain and fatigue set in, it was a fight to keep my morale up. Running by perfect strangers and hearing “Looking great, Jeremy” or “Goooooo Jeremy” or “Good job, Jeremy” was a huge lift and helped take my mind off the pain for a few minutes.

Many of our programs at FCR encourage agents to use the customer’s naturally during interactions. While once is plenty when it comes to most text-based interactions, there are definitely ways to work the customer’s name into phone and chat conversations. Just be sure that it doesn’t sound robotic or canned. Perhaps we haven’t spent enough time thinking through just how impactful it is for our customers to be known by name. It just might ease their present agony over a lost shipment or an incorrect bill.

Bad: Running the Gauntlet for a Shirt

IMG_5015A couple days before the race there’s an expo where all of the runners go pick up their race bibs and t-shirts. Most expos, both big and small have a similar layout. The first thing you’ll see is a table where you pick up your bib with your number on it. After supplying you with a bag and some safety pins, they tell you to walk to the other size to get your t-shirt.

When they say “other side” that means you have to run the gauntlet through all of the exhibitors trying to sell you their products. This was a fairly small race but I had to walk a good distance to finally get to other side to claim my shirt. Is this a good experience for the customer? Well as a runner, I’ll never shy away from a little extra walking but that’s a lot of effort when they could easily put the shirt table next to the bib table.

Of course I’m not naive. I realize that this is business and these exhibitors pay a pretty penny for their booth and that comes with the promise that every racer will walk by en route to the shirts. Ultimately it’s a minor inconvenience but an inconvenience no less. This happens in business but we should seek to minimize customer effort wherever possible.

In Between: Customer Satisfaction Survey Made (Too) Easy

surveyI’m a big fan of customer satisfaction surveys and have completed some lengthy surveys for races in the past. This race did something different. They actually had little kiosks placed in strategic locations where customers could rate their experience. And we’ll just ignore the violation of the “I before E except after C” rule in this picture.

Regardless, this is an interesting way to allow racers to quickly and easily rate their experience. I submitted a rating for both the race course and also the festival at the finish line — and in both cases selected the happy face.

What do you think about this method? On the positive side, it’s simple and attractive (other than the typo) so they probably have a terrific response rate. It’s also placed in a spot where the experience is extremely fresh in the customer’s mind so you’re likely to get a more accurate gauge. I’m sure the race organizers are able to quickly see how they performed in the various aspects of the event.

On the negative side, there’s no way for customers to submit feedback or request follow up. What if one of the volunteers at the water stop at mile 18 was heckling people? Or what if they ran out of Gatorade at mile 23? It might be wise to note somewhere on this sign where customers can go if they have additional feedback and want to speak with someone who can do something about it.

While I looked at this experience with a bit of a critical eye, I am elated to be able to finish another marathon. I’m also grateful to the hundreds of volunteers that made my experience possible. And that’s a great way to end this post. Here’s continuing to run the customer experience race and to observing ways to make it better along the way.

Jeremy-Watkin-Blog-Profile
Jeremy Watkin
Director of Customer Experience
FCR

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience for FCR. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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