I’ve just come back from delivering some training in Italy. I flew out of Bristol Airport and a few weeks prior to my trip I booked on-line to use the long stay car park opposite the terminal. On arrival at the car park I put in my credit card. The barrier lifted and I found a place to park my car. I then grabbed my luggage and walked over to the terminal and checked myself in with the terminal and e-ticket.  On returning to my car after the trip I drove to the exit, placed my credit card in the machine again (which recognised my booking) the barrier lifted and I drove home. All easy and painless.

The day after my trip I get a customer service questionnaire email from Bristol Airport. But I didn’t interact with any people at Bristol Airport. And customer service is all about people interacting with people, isn’t it? The whole system has been designed to take people (cost) out of the process. So why ask me about my customer service experience? Why ask me if it would make me use Bristol Aiport again. (Like I have much of a choice as it’s the nearest one to me). I’ve used Bristol Airport before and know what to expect. So it “met my expectations” but “what can we do to exceed your expectations?” doesn’t really make sense here, does it?(You can leave your ideas and comments below)

I’m all for getting (and giving) customer feedback. But if I didn’t interact with any staff – does this sort of questionnaire make sense? If I am unhappy and will never use Bristol Airport Car Park again – what are they going to do? Give the software, terminals and barrier a poor annual performance review?

I appreciate that we can only improve what is measured. But, let’s make sure we are measuring the right things eh?

OK, this is the third and final part of the “Make it easy…” blog trilogy. This time it’s about making it easy for the customer to say “yes” to your product or service. You’d think this would be the easy bit wouldn’t you? After all the hard work of finding and nurturing the prospect to the decision point, you’d think that companies would make it easy to tip them over the edge into a “Yes” outcome. Amazingly many companies still make this bit difficult.

Years ago the bookshop Foyles had a bizzare purchasing system. (Maybe they still do, but after this experience I never went back), Having selected a book I walked over to the counter. The book was placed in a bag and I was then given a “ticket” to take up 3 flights of stairs where I would pay for the item. After paying on the top floor, the ticket was stamped and then I headed downstairs to trade my approved ticket for my book. Weird.

How about the automated phone systems where: 1) is for maintenance, 2) is for complaints, 3) is for finance etc. etc. and then, eventually 7) is for sales! Don’t laugh I had this experience only a couple of weeks ago.

Many e-Commerce sites want me to sign up, create an account, enrol for a newsletter etc. when all I want to do is get to the PayPal bit. Once I’ve made my purchase, give me the options of doing the other stuff afterwards. Don’t force me to do it before you have my money. I might just click-away.

Another company I (nearly) purchased from recently wanted me to open an account, provide trade references, do a credit check on my company etc. This was their “system” even though I was paying with a debit card.

The deserted isles of the self-service supermarket check-outs where you weigh, scan, bag etc. yourself, whilst having a dreary recorded voice complain “Foreign item in bagging area” are also clues that retailers are making life difficult for customers.

So, are you making it difficult for the customer to say “Yes” to what you offer? What obstacles are you putting in their way, that they have to jump over, in order to part with their cash?

I want the easy life when I am buying… so please, just make it easy for me.

My last posting referred to making it easy for people to understand what you do. This time it’s about making it easy for people to find you…. in every sense of the word. This refers as much to the on-line as the off-line world.

In the on-line world most people will use a search engine to find you. So, make sure it is easy for people to find you – when using the terms and words that customers would use when looking for a solution. They may not know your jargon, so don’t base your SEO strategy around the assumption that people will kmow your product names, buzz words or phrases.  Or, if the potential customer does know your name, the name of your company, or the name of your product, make sure there are plenty of links and content for them to find when the enter it into their favourite search engine. Also make sure that your advocates and recommenders have links to your site on from theirs. This will also boosts your search engine ranking as well as increasing the chances that you will be “stumbled upon”.

When I have to travel to see a new company or location, I hate it when a website does not include an address with a post code that I can enter into my SatNav. That’s not too much to ask is it? And when I get near the location some good signage outside make it easy for me to find the correct building. Empty parking spaces marked “Visitors” (or even better, a space with my name above it if they know I am coming) make it easy for me to know where to park. Now you need to make it easy for me to know which entrance to go in, and easy for me to make myself known at reception (if it exists) and easy for me to find the right office etc.

Otherwise I end up in the wrong place, or in a bad mood, or both. Not a good way to start off a potential new relationship. But if it’s easy to find you it puts me into a good mood, and frame of mind, before our meeting has even started.

So don’t put me in a bad mood by making it difficult to find you. Whether in the on-line or off-line world.

Just make it easy for me.