Kickstarter Lesson #143: How Can I Make This Experience Better for You?

12 March 2015 | 23 Comments

I recently had an interaction that has completely changed the way I approach customer service.

A customer contacted me about a premium product of ours that he had purchased and opened to find that it wasn’t quite what he envisioned. He paid high price for something that was different than his expectations, and he expressed that disappointment to me.

I took a few minutes to respond because I wanted to make sure I expressed myself well. There were a lot of things I wanted to say–I wanted to explain that the product he got was actually better than he thought because of X, Y, and Z. I wanted to say that we could refund him if he sent it back. A part of me wanted to say something like, “Thanks for your feedback” and move on.

I’ve done all of those things. In the right circumstances, I will do them in the future. I’ve also written specifically about this topic not that long ago, especially the idea that your job in customer service is to “lose every fight.”

Instead, I wrote this response: “How can I make this experience better for you?”

I love what this question says. It shows that I understand that the experience up until this point has been subpar. It shows that I’m focused on finding a solution. It puts the power in the hands of the customer.

In fact, it’s all about the customer. Not just the general concept of any customer, but this customer, this person. I’m saying, “How can I serve you? What’s right for you?”

Also, I think it’s important that I didn’t say all that other stuff. I didn’t try to deflect the question or make the issue seem like less of a big deal. I didn’t make excuses. I didn’t dismiss the customer.

Rather, I acknowledged that buying something is more than a transaction, more than a product. It’s an experience. The experience starts when the customer first hears about the product and it continues all the way through the customer opens the box for the first time or plays the game for the first (or tenth!) time.

This isn’t a question I will ask lightly. It’s not going to be something I toss out on Kickstarter every time someone expresses disappointment or confusion. When I get emails about broken or missing components, I’ll continue to refer people to our replacement parts form–some problems already have a solution, and I don’t need to ask the customer to think of one.

But for those messages when a customer’s expectations haven’t been met, I now feel like I know exactly what to say. I’ll ask them with all sincerity how I can make their experience better. I can attest to what happened next with the customer that it was exactly the thing he needed to hear.

What do you think? I’m sure there are variations on this question, and maybe there’s an even better way to say it. I’d love to hear your input.

Also read: The 10 Elements of Great Customer Service for a Kickstarter Creator

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23 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #143: How Can I Make This Experience Better for You?

  1. Part of that Disney comment is very much so wrapped up in knowing all possible things you can do for someone within your sphere of control and knowing who to ask when that fails. Above all it is making sure the customer is happy regardless of the outcome so you hit the nail on the head with ensuring an experience over a return or whatnot. Kindness doesn’t cost anything. The Disney training? It is nothing more than approaching every situation as one that you can make better, and knowing what that means in your specific situation. Calm ng us Cast Members at Disneyland added to the make believe of really going out of our way to make magic happen whether we sold ice cream from a stand or pushed the button to start the ride.

  2. My go-to phrase on eBay is: “How can I make this right?” I love that it puts the power in the hands of the consumer. A good bit of timr the consumer asks for less than I was willing to give so I make out better and the customer feels more empowered.

  3. It sounds like you handled the situation well. As you mentioned it’s not a response you can bandy about lightly but used properly it’s extremely effective in improving not only the situation but also the customers perception. However the best thing that strikes me from this exchange is not only your willingness to improve the result for the customer but that you’re looking into ways you could do this better. It’s just a nice reminder that board gaming generally sets the bar for customer experiences and helps make it the great hobby it is.

  4. The customer is happy as long as the seller is willing to solve the problem. However, there is no standard or scale to measure the expectation from customer. I guess I would just refund him. But it is really nice that you ask what you can do to get his experience better

    1. Alan: Do you think maybe the scale is determined by the customer? While a refund is usually a possibility, I think some customers don’t want that. They want to be heard, or maybe they just want to talk for a minute, or they want one piece replaced…or something. You never know until you ask. :)

  5. Having worked in tech support for years, the only thing I would change is to make the question more about “we” than “I”. Inclusiveness always is a better strategy

    1. kemn: I hear what you’re saying, but I have a different take on it (I do, not we do). I don’t think it’s about inclusiveness–I’m all about including people. But I think I can be much more effective if it’s just me–Jamey–talking to directly to you, person to person, rather than me acting on behalf of some unseen, unknown “we” (especially since in this case there is no “we”–it’s just me).

      I wrote about this on a Kickstarter Lesson, but I can’t remember which one now.

      1. I agree with that – “How can we make this experience better for you” sounds like you’re the frontline customer support staff of a large faceless corporation. “How can I make this experience better for you” sounds a lot better for this sort of thing due to how personal it sounds.

    1. Kind of. It was more like he just needed to hear that question–by me asking it, he became happy with the overall experience. I’m sure every customer is different, but that was right for him.

  6. I like how you utilized the word “experience” and not “product.” This was more than just a purchase, it was an expectation. The researching the product, the decision to purchase, the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive, and the excitement of opening the box. All of these are components of the “experience” that you wanted to improve for him. Then the “experience” continues in his interactions with you and perhaps the product itself. Purchasing a game (and other items in life) are much more than just a single transaction or just an item. You are right to ask about improving the “experience.”

    Personally, I need to think about this when I interact with clients at work and as a freelancer. How could the “experience” of working with me and the service I am providing be improved?

      1. Disney is well known for having perhaps the best customer service practices of any company. I’ve been told by those who have an interest in the field of customer service that there is some fascinating reading available regarding Disney’s approach.

      2. All things Disney have made a comeback in our house as my youngest son really wants to do an internship there. He has been showing us everything he can find on Disney training. We visited there in January and got the treatment full blast. Your tale reminded me very much of the best they have to offer. (I mean that as a very heartfelt compliment.)

        1. Jeff, be careful. I’ve heard many horrible stories of the Disney program where young college kids go and train en masse, whatever it’s called. Do the research.
          The problem is less with Disney, then the program, the living, and the … uh… debauchery. : P

          1. Thank you John, I will do that. If you have any leads to follow, I am Niranth on BGG so we can carry this conversation off this board.

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