'50s scenario, woman calculating and on phone, man in background smoking a pipe
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Forrester Research has proposed a simple yet powerful formula to help enterprises calculate how much value they are delivering to the customer. I used it last week to evaluate my strange interaction as a customer with one of my favorite luxury retail brands. The result = #FAIL (the experience that is, not the calculator — it was spot on). Here’s what happened.

A Simple Plan to Calculate Value for Customers

In “A Simple Recipe to Calculate How Much Value for Customers Your Firm Delivers,” Maxie Schmidt, principal analyst at Forrester Research, shares how Potential Gain In Value (PGV) provides a simple way to approximate the value delivered to customers.

Simply put, you evaluate the following drivers based on importance to your business, performance, and delivered value and then compare to desired value. In this way, you identify the value gaps for improvement focus and can proceed to address.

Drivers of Value

  1. Friendliness of contact center rep.
  2. Willingness of contact center rep to listen.
  3. Speed of resolving my issue.
  4. Quality of the product.
  5. Helpfulness of sales representative.
  6. Transparency of the price.
  7. Ease of using the website.

Interesting list and each one played a role in my recent experience.

Related Article: 5 Ways Elite Brands Are Setting the New Standard for Customer Experience

Rewarding Experiences

It all began when I received a promotional email as a Platinum Rewards level customer inviting me to link through to the current rewards being offered. I get these regularly and don’t always click through. This time I was already planning to place an order since I think this brand’s product quality (Driver #4) is outstanding. I decided to check it out. There was a Rewards item I was interested in and had been waiting to see on the catalog, and I had enough points to order it.

Smooth Sailing Until Checkout

I selected my Rewards item and with it successfully in my basket I then proceeded to order my additional items. I added a promo code I found on one of those great curation websites that capture the best available coupons. This was perfect. Rewards and a discount. And free shipping because I met a minimum purchase level (Driver #6). The website was easy to use, and I quickly completed my shopping excursion (Driver # 7).

I proceeded to the check out and that’s when things began to go wrong. At first it was full speed ahead. I went to pay with an online payment service. This worked smoothly as it always has and then returned me to the check out workflow to review and confirm. I hit confirm, smiling.

Not so fast. I received an error — "cannot complete purchase." It seemed to want me to cycle through again with my payment, so I did. Two more times. Then reminding myself of the definition of insanity:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

I decided to call client services. But they didn’t open for 30 minutes, so I waited. Full disclosure, I did cycle through two more times while I was waiting, thinking Albert never purchased luxury products online so what did he know. Oh, he knew. The bad news was I continued to get "cannot complete purchase."  The good news was I had passed the 30-minute wait time and proceeded to call the contact center.

Customer Service, Can I Help You?

The client service rep was pleasant and listened to my tale of woe, then immediately apologized for the difficulty I was experiencing (Drivers #1,2).  She could see my basket — that was encouraging — and quickly determine that my problem was I had added a Promo code and could not do that on an order that included a Rewards item. Remove the code and all would be well (Drivers #3,5).

Related Article: How to Deliver Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Customer Experience

Trouble in Paradise

Wait, what?! So, anyone off the street can get the discount except your most loyal customers? Yes, the service rep was so terribly sorry but apparently that was the case. She removed the Promo code with my agreement and proceeded to complete my order.

Uh oh, she couldn’t because I had used an online payment service. Would I like to give her my credit card info and she would quickly complete the transaction for me? At this point I was just fascinated to see where this would go, so gave her my info and the result was ... she received an error message of "cannot complete purchase." Would I hold for just a moment and she would investigate?

Can You See What I See?

The client service rep was gone quite some time. When she returned, she again apologized and said that unfortunately it was the Rewards item I had chosen that was the culprit. Apparently, it was no longer available as a Rewards choice. Though the Rewards catalog system hadn’t been updated, the order system had. Now those who know me may find this hard to believe, I was speechless ... NOT. I cancelled my order and requested the client service rep capture my messages to management, as follows:

1.  Appreciate customer loyalty: Do not offer promo codes that work for anybody on the planet EXCEPT your most loyal customers. Easy to solve with a stroke of the management pen.

2.  Integrate your technology: Your Rewards system needs to be integrated to your order system. Your error messages need to be descriptive and directive. There is no excuse for this not to be true with the availability of automation technologies like low-code platforms.

3. Give client service reps the power to serve: At the end of the day, your value delivered will soar with great service reps enabled by the proper systems and empowered to do what’s right for the customer.

Related Article: Why Are We Thinking About the Future of CX When We Can't Get it Right Today?

[Re-]Calculating Customer Value Delivered

A recent survey cited by Forrester Research in “How to Build a Modern Agent Desktop and Transform Customer Service Experiences” (paywall) found that customer service agents spend up to 35% of their day searching for information. My agent was friendly, helpful and did her best to search and ultimately find the source of my problem. She did cancel my order for me and promised to capture my messages for management.

But my agent could not solve my problem.

My Rewards points were returned to my account with profuse apologies and hopes that I would have a nice day and return soon to the brand where I have been a loyal customer, but it will be a while before I attempt once again to redeem my Rewards and make another purchase. Customer value delivered = zero.