Best & Worst Customer Experience: From Known to Unknown

The best service experience for the customer includes being recognized, being known — treated as a regular valued customer. Whether it’s the bagel shop on the corner that remembers your usual order or the greeting in a high status platinum frequent flier lounge, being known is a great experience.

The worst customer experience is not being unknown; the worst experience is to become unknown.

Do you un-know your known customers?
The loss that the customers experience causes a huge loss of trust — often an irreparable break. It often happens during times of change. Here’s a checklist to assess and prevent this descent.

Best to Worst Customer Experience: From Known to Unknown Image by:MFCarter

From Known to Unknown

  1. Have you recently changed business procedures?  Do those procedures treat known customers that you can trust as unknown customers that you can’t? That is how the customers experience it. Remedy: Consider changes in procedure from the view of the customer before finalizing them. Do they serve the customer or just the company?
  2. Has your company purchased or merged with another company? Employees aren’t the only people who will struggle with the changes. The customers will struggle if they go from being known long time valued customers to being just IDs in a database. Remedy: Intelligent databases that retain valued information and CSRs who use that information well.
  3. Have you recently had turnover in personnel or new hires? The customers can experience a loss when new hires treat them as unknown. Remedy: Brief and train anyone who interacts with customers — receptionists, CSRs, sales, marketing, account reps — on current customers’ buying patterns and preferences. If that isn’t possible due to the size of the business, have the new hires let the customers know they are new hires. It explains the lack of knowledge and prevents misunderstandings.

If customers tell you they are displeased about being treated as a number or an unknown, avoid replying that things have changed. Expressions like, time marches on, it’s the age of technology, one bad apple spoils the bunch, reinforce that they no longer matter as individuals.

It makes matters worse and can irreparably damage the relationships. Instead, use their dissatisfaction as an opportunity to learn even more about the customers and re-secure the bond.

This post is not a plea to stop change; it is a reminder to handle change well to avoid un-knowing your customers.

What else will prevent “un-knowing” the customers? I welcome your thought-filled discussion in the comments field below.

©2010 Kate Nasser, Somerville, NJ. For permission to re-post or republish, please email

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, continues to guide and teach diverse businesses and industries how to deliver great customer service for outstanding experiences and long term business success.

6 Responses to “Best & Worst Customer Experience: From Known to Unknown”

  1. Excellent points Kate. One way to help keep customers engaged is to let customers know in advance that something new is coming and seek input. Then After the change, give them easy ways to suggest enhancements. It can be as easy as an online survey or an old fashioned suggestion box…and it can make a BIG difference in how change is accepted.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh so true Joan. Advance notice helps people adjust to changes and if done with a personal touch, it creates bonds.
      Now there’s something — increasing bonds as a result of change!
      Your insight as a leader, Joan, is always appreciated.

  2. Kate Nasser says:

    All companies and leaders — heck all people — tend to focus on their own issues. Yet the greats focus outward to drive the inward decisions. I like your addition on the social media aspect to gain this perspective before changes. A decade ago before the social media craze gathering info was a complex and costly affair. Today’s technology has changed all that and empowers businesses to avoid the risk of “un-knowing” their customers.

    Always glad to hear your perspective Dan. Thanks for sharing it here on Smart SenseAbilties.

  3. Ellen Weber says:

    Love the poignant questions here Kate! What a dynamic reflection we need to have on a regular basis – so that we can ensure evidence of people as capital by the way we stay caring and curious. Thanks for the inspiration to focus on people who often deserve more from us! Nice touch on a busy day!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Ellen. You nailed the essence with your phrase “stay caring and curious”. Bravo and thanks for contributing to this discussion.

  4. Very good points, it is amazing how one small change in a procedure can really make a customer feel unvalued. I am glad I work for a company that allows for us to really think outside the box and avoid this type of thing in order to keep our existing customers happy and returning to our business!

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