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Experience Engineering: Taking a Positive Approach to Every Interaction

March 17, 2015

Anyone who has ever visited Disneyland knows that experiences can be engineered. Park visitors are more than willing to stand in line for an hour for the most popular rides. This is in large part because Disney turns what could be a bad experience into a good one. Here are a few key ways Disney achieves this:

  • Clear wait times. At the beginning of the line there is a sign informing visitors about the wait time. These have proven to be very accurate.
  • Lines are not ‘in your face’. Visitors know the wait time, but they don’t have to stare at the entire queue while they wait. Many times the line is intentionally hidden from view as it winds around inside and outside, from building to building, and room to room.
  • Comfortable surroundings. Disney gets visitors out of the sun very quickly. Visitors are in the shade and then inside as fast as possible.
  • Wait time entertainment. Around every corner is a new display complete with music, short videos, trivia questions, and more. All themed for the ride and providing welcome relief from the boredom of standing and waiting.

What does this have to do with the contact center? Perhaps the most important lesson is that it is possible to take an unavoidable negative experience (like waiting) and turn it into an experience that minimizes customer frustration and turns it into a much more positive overall experience. Here are a few thoughts on how experience engineering can be employed in the contact center:

  • Offer a callback option. If agents are not immediately available, offer customers the option of a call back. They can thus avoid sitting on hold and even potentially determine the scheduling of the interaction.
  • Offer hold time choices. If customers must wait in a queue, they may prefer to listen to product tips or a specific type of music. Give them choice and you give them some modicum of control. You also buy more time before the customer becomes impatient and unhappy.
  • Be prepared. Take an extra minute to review the account before connecting. In a high wait environment, that extra time will not be noticed and can shorten the call. It can certainly improve the experience for the customer.
  • Route by personality. Connecting callers to agents who best fit the conversational style can put the customer at ease and improve customer experience. This behavioral routing is proven to shorten call duration and improve key measures including sales and retention.
  • Stay on the bright side. When confronted with less than perfect solutions, present them in the best light. Instead of saying “You’ll have to reschedule for tomorrow” when a flight is cancelled, say “The system automatically rebooked you on the same flight tomorrow afternoon, but it looks like I can get you on the first flight of the day.”
  • Avert next issues. Set expectations with the customer about next steps. The contact center is in the best position to predict problems that might arise following the current issue. Try to address those issues too.
  • Change the perspective. Move customers off the negative by changing how they see the problem. Slow elevators caused complaints at a large hospital. Experts were consulted, concluding that the speed could not be improved. Instead, the hospital added mirrors to the doors. Complaints dropped because the mirrors diverted attention.

Experiences can be engineered. They should be engineered. They create a better interaction for everyone, leading to reduced customer effort, improved loyalty, and better contact center results.