Episode #8: How Customer Experience Impacts Brand Trust

In today’s episode we take a road trip from New York to Florida as we look at how customer experience can impact the perceived quality of a product. It’s a story about trust, semi-autonomous cars, and dog treats.

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All right, play it Jimmy. Oh my gosh, I love that stuff. Okay, today, we are the CXM Experience. And I am Grad Conn CXO at Sprinklr. And I thought today, given that it’s called the CXM Experience, which for the perceptive among you, is the customer experience management… experience. Two experiences because, you know, we’re all about experience. I thought today would be good idea to talk about… experience.

So I have a couple of experience stories. I’ve had a couple of interesting experiences lately. And I hope they were interesting stories, I’ll just share them and, you know, have a chitty chat about it and go from there.

So I just bought a new car for my fiancé, and drove it from New York to Florida. So I’m actually doing this week’s and the next few weeks worth of the CXM Experience from an intercoastal-facing house in Deerfield Beach, which is just south of Boca in Florida. Gorgeous, and it’s warm. And we drove down.

And the reason we’re here is that my fiancé’s father lives nearby. And we really, really, really want to see him. And it’s been almost a year since I actually saw him face to face. I had to ask him for permission for his daughter’s hand by the phone, which was,,, which was great, but was not what I wanted. And we’ve really not been able to see each other because of this COVID thing.

And so we’ve made a decision to drive down to Florida because we thought we would be in the least amount of contact with the fewest number of people that way. And we would basically quarantine here, we rented a house which is fantastic. I’m going to talk about that as one of the experiences. And we’re going to be here for a couple weeks quarantining and then we’ll be able to do my fiancé’s birthday and thanksgiving (which happen to be similar days), all here, and then we’re going to zip back to New York, and then we’ll quarantine for a couple more weeks there. So we’re going to quarantine for four of the next six weeks, but having a great time in the Florida location.

So part of coming down here is… we wanted to get a get a little bit more room in our vehicle and so we got ourselves a brand new Volvo XC 90 which is a great car… can’t recommend it enough. But had this really interesting conversation on the trip and I just wanted to share it because it goes so much to the issue of experience as it reflects, not just on the brand itself, but on even the product itself.

So we bought this car… I’m not going to name the dealership because it seems a bit mean and plus we have to continue to get the car serviced there so I don’t want to make them angry. But we bought the car at a dealership in the New York area. Let’s just put it that way. And the people were perfectly nice. So there wasn’t a mean bone in anyone’s body. But they are the most disorganized, sort of like circus-like quality that I have ever seen in a purchase. And to the point where at one point I literally started feeling like a fool paying for this. It maybe feels foolish giving them money. But the right hand couldn’t talk to the left hand, many of the things that they said they’re going to do they didn’t do, we had to remind them, they kind of didn’t insert it didn’t do them they didn’t quite… it’s just it’s just been ridiculous.

And now the car itself it’s a 2019 so it’s a couple years off lease. Kind of the way I love to buy, I love to buy used luxury cars that are lightly used off lease because all the depreciation is gone and you still got a mostly brand new car. But then the car itself is fabulous. I mean I can’t say enough good things about it. But the experience of buying it even down to the fact that when we went to sign the final paperwork, they had the wrong car on the paperwork. Not, didn’t make a typo. They had a different vehicle in the registration paperwork… some Buick with 56,000 miles on it.

And, if we had signed that and sort of initiated that it would have been like, disastrous. In fact, the person who’s responsible for the paperwork, the business manager said, Wow, really glad you caught that because it would have been really bad if we submitted that. When people say stuff like that, like really bad, I can only imagine what kind of shitstorm we would have run into.

Nonetheless, we got through it all. And to my fiancé’s credit, she actually spotted that the VIN was different. And I would consider myself a bit of a car person but boy, I’m not sure I would see VIN differences. She’s very impressive. So we got the car, it was just crazy. And instead of picking up at three and leaving town, which was the plan, and you know, we thought we could kind of get to DC on the first day. We left seven ish or 7:30ish, much, much, much later than we had hoped. It was dark. It was raining. It was the exact opposite experience of what we wanted at the beginning of the trip. And we still made it to DC but only because my fiancé is a total animal and drove the entire way herself, like five hours in the rain. And got us there somehow. I don’t know how that happened because I was mostly passed out asleep the whole way.

Anyway, so the next day I drove and so I took a little bit more of the driving duties the next day just to be fair. And then yesterday was our third day, we made it to our new place here in Deerfield Beach. And it was interesting, there’s this feature on this XC 90 called pilot assist. And what it does is when you’re in cruise control, it’s adaptive cruise control, so it adjusts the speed of the car to the speed of the car in front of you. Many people have this now, not that new of a feature. But then pilot assist, which is not that new anymore, but a little newish. It actually steers the car and keeps it between the lines. You can kind of cross lines by taking over and taking control. And then it resumes steering the car. And so it’s a little bit of a trust issue, you have to take your hands essentially a little bit off the wheel and watch the car steer itself. And especially going around curves. It’s a bit disconcerting.

I had done it the day before and gotten used to it. I coached up my fiancé on how to do it. And so she was driving and she was letting it work. And she’s like, Okay, this is kind of happening. And she’s kind of like, Okay, wow, okay, this is cool. And she’s a very good driver. And she’s also very technical. She’s very good with computers and stuff. So she wasn’t freaked out by it. But at one point, she turned to me and she said, You know, I’m having a really weird experience right now. And I said, What’s that? And she said, Well, the total circus act that we had, buying the car, the gross incompetence of not even be able to get the paperwork done correctly, makes me not trust this car very much. And I’m trying to transpose the experience I had at the dealership, to trusting the Swedish engineers that built this thing. But I’m struggling.

I had an amazing… it really struck me. Because the car is actually assembled in Sweden, and designed by Swedish and I mean, I’m sure many other nationalities, but designed by a set of engineers based out of Volvo. And that’s clearly what we were relying on, we were relying on the car itself, the engineering itself.

But the dealer, who had nothing to do with the making of the car. Right? And the dealer had nothing to do with the accuracy of the lane sensing and nothing to do with the ability to manage your speed versus another car and no relationship to those functions whatsoever. All the dealer had to do was take the car and sell it to us and take cash from us and give us a car. So reasonably simple transaction made extremely complicated by an incredibly disorganized and deeply dysfunctional organization.

And it’s interesting how that negative experience reflected on the product confidence itself for my fiancé, and she worked her way through it and we ended up having a great drive. But I thought that was a really interesting and kind of compelling sort of moment on why experience really is the new brand. Because if you have a bad experience buying something, the thing itself even though it is essentially the manufacturing and design of that thing is totally separated from the buying experience. The buying experience reflects on the usage experience of the object.

Now, flipside kind of happy ending to the story, we pulled into this house that we had rented off VRBO. And we’d had a great experience with the renter, the owner, the renter, I guess were the renters… the owner, and been great back and forth. We’d seen pictures of the home, we’d never been here. So you know, who knows, right? We walked in, exceeded our expectations by tenfold. They had champagne with our name, they left a note for us. And most importantly, and I thought this is really clever. We traveled with our dog Hester, and they had a little bag of Hester treats. And my fiancé immediately turned to me, and she goes, Well, I love people who love my dog. That’s a note that I have taken many times. And, and so immediately, there was this kind of connection, like the fact that the welcome note was to my fiancé, myself and our dog. Right? And there’s a bag of stuff for the dog. And it was just, it was just a great way to sort of feel welcomed and feel at home.

And the place is spotless, gorgeous inside. Beautiful pool, everything is kind of as advertised plus, but that welcome note and the way they brought us in here, just made us feel amazing. And we were tired. It’s been a long day. I’ve been a long three days of travel and we were exhausted. I was just a wonderful way to come in.

So experience can… It’s amazing how easy it is to throw someone off. And it’s amazing, quite frankly, how easy it is to make someone really excited. So that’s it for today. I’m about to go in the backyard and fire up the grill and do some steaks in this wonderful place. And we’ll be reporting in from here for the next month and I’ll talk to you soon. For the CXM Experience. It’s Grad Conn