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The Weakest Link

Isolated Failures and Customer Experience

My phone was run over by a car last Friday, setting off an interesting string of events. First, the phone was in a protective case. The case emerged unscathed from the accident, while the phone inside was crushed… even in the midst of all my swearing, I found that amusing.

Anyway, there were three players involved in the repair / replacement process – my wireless provider, the insurance company, and a phone repair vendor. Comments on each are in my Customer Experience Scorecard below.

Business lessons I learned from this experience:

    1. The two things passengers typically remember about an airplane flight are the takeoff and the landing: first and last impressions matter most. This is the exception that proves the rule. If you’d told me Friday that I’d have my phone back and fully functional by Sunday, I would have been thrilled. But there was so much stress and dysfunction related to the repair center along the way that it created a lasting impression. Which brings me to…
    2. Customer experience is often dictated by the weakest link. Remember that when deciding who to partner with, take on as suppliers, etc. If you select the wrong ones then you get tarred with the same inefficiency brush, even though issues may have nothing to do with you.  Which brings me to…
    3. Reputation / past experience matters. When you screw up one thing, you tend to get blamed for everything. Truth be told, I really don’t know if the systems issue was the repair center’s fault… but I am assuming the worst because the other players were terrific. So what? Well, if the repair center wants my business in the future, they have two challenges. First, they must fix the perception problem to get me in the door, and then they must deliver flawlessly. Never forget the perception issue- it doesn’t matter if you are great if customers aren’t willing to give you another shot.

You might say “They are the weakest link… goodbye.”

Ralph Smith

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