Brendon Bairstow-Klopper

Director at nlighten.
With over 17 years of experience in various customer experience fields, Brendon has the unique ability to translate his vast insights and understanding into actionable strategy.
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End_to_end customer experience_nlighten_article_Feb_2019

Humans are a pessimistic bunch. Studies show that we remember negative events with greater clarity and accuracy, and they re-trigger our emotional responses more than our positive recollections.

This element of human psychology is why business owners have their work cut out when managing customer experience, and ensuring client satisfaction.

The value of one negative experience outweighs the power of multiple positive interactions.

Here’s a real-life cautionary tale about flaws in customer experience strategy.

During a Christmas shopping trip last month  I received a call from my mobile operator – Vodacom. My phone identified the call as ‘scam likely’, but due to my trust in the Vodacom brand, I decided to take it.

It wasn’t a scam. A well-informed and enthusiastic phone operative explained I was due for an upgrade. He was knowledgeable and engaged my trust. He was genuinely helpful when explaining my options and the technical aspects of devices, and because of that and my satisfaction with my Vodacom experience to date, he made the sale.

I wanted to do more research before I sealed the deal. I went home, whittled down the options, made my final decision and called Vodacom’s third-party provider to finalise the details.

This is where things started to go pear-shaped.

I was pushed from pillar to post and didn’t feel I belonged to anyone as a customer. The agents were all pleasant to deal with, but they were governed by internal processes that they were forced to drag me through.

Multiple calls later, and having spoken to supervisors and managers to no avail, I was now angry. The initial appeal of receiving my new device without needing to step foot into a store had long worn off.

Fast forward to mid-January and I still don’t have my new device. Before that phone call, I was happy with my current situation. Now, sold on all the exciting new aspects of my shiny new smartphone, my current phone feels inadequate. I am disappointed. My customer experience has been tainted.

Where did it all go wrong?

The third party Vodacom uses is a company called Mondo, and one Google search results in frustrated customers venting their spleens about their negative experiences.

They easily convinced me to upgrade, even to pay more money, but failed in one area: understanding my experience. Our Smartphones are important to us. Who is going to make a snap decision that affects them for the next two years whilst Christmas shopping? There was no pathway for pausing the journey and picking up the deal where we left off, no continuity, no ownership and as a result no deal.

I get the allure and even the necessity of contracting a third party, and I don’t even think Mondo were bad – their staff were well-trained, sweet and my dealings with them pleasant. The problem lies with inadequate customer journey mapping.

Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes.

A mobile service provider’s customer journey has a lot of activity in the front end, and then the service provider can sit back and reap the rewards for two years. The customer journey looks a little like this:

AWARE – CONSIDER – PURCHASE – USE – UPGRADE – USE – REPEAT

That cycle relies on a happy and engaged customer. If something interrupts that journey, it could go off in tangents of COMPLAIN – LEAVE, and then you need to work on getting them to RETURN, starting the whole cycle again from the beginning.

In this example, the issues arose at the purchasing stage. Mondo are playing a numbers game of wanting to pressurise customers into making their decision on the spot.  They aren’t anticipating or responding to the customer’s need for thinking time, and through them not ensuring cohesive relationships and internal pathways my customer experience has been soured.

This is Vodacom’s problem, not Mondo’s. It is so important to maintain ownership of the customer experience even when outsourcing to a third party. Businesses cannot lose sight of the bigger picture, because even if one small element if off-kilter the entire end-to-end customer journey can be derailed.

Ps: Since writing this blog my new phone has indeed arrived, but memories of the customer effort and the bitter taste in my mouth still remains.

Getting it wrong can cost a business big.

At the centre of what we do at nlighten is the belief that every interaction with your customer is an opportunity to get your CX right. And woe betide those who get it wrong in the digital age. Even after multiple positive experiences, it takes just one negative to annoy a customer enough that they will blog about your business on the Internet….


It’s our aim to get you and your staff thinking like customer experience pros. Find out more about how a day in our interactive CX coaching masterclass could enhance your customer satisfaction.

nlighten. enhancing customer experience: www.nlighten.co.za