“So what’s this Boxing Day thing?”
During a break between sessions at CMSWire’s recent DX Summit in Chicago, I returned to my company’s booth on the Experience Showcase floor to be greeted with this apparently random question. As the “token-Brit” on the team, it was assumed I knew the answer (and to be honest it’s a question I get asked at least once a year around the holidays.)
May the Strongest Man Win
Boxing Day, which is celebrated in the UK and other Commonwealth nations, “dates back to medieval times,” I started.
There were a few nods of the head and I realized my potential audience was hooked. So I decided to have some fun and spun a silly yarn about how the lord of the manor would select the strongest men from each of the villages on his estate.
They would then engage in a no-holds barred boxing match with the promise that the home village of the eventual victor would be spared paying any rents or taxes for the following year.
My poor colleagues believed everything I said … but I couldn’t let it stay like that. After a few minutes, I confessed my bogus storytelling and described the real origin of Boxing Day.
Trust and Betrayal
My small, and short lived, deception got me thinking about trust. My audience trusted what I said because it perceived me as the subject matter expert. The audience implicitly trusted me, therefore what I was telling them had to be the truth, especially because it sounded plausible.
Several years ago I wrote a blog post entitled Truth in Marketing is Not an Oxymoron. In it, I argued that it was OK to give the truth some scope (i.e. a 11 percent increase could be termed double-digit growth) but any marketing claim should be able to stand up to scrutiny.
So what about when interacting with the customer at other points along their journey?
Respecting Your Customers
At every point of interaction the customer perceives you, your employees, representatives and partners as being the subject matter experts on helping them meet their particular needs at that point in their journey. With that comes an implied trust that any information they are given (be it written, visual, or spoken) is current, accurate and correct.
That trust should be respected.
There is nothing wrong in transparency. Not everyone can be expected to know everything about what your company does across all aspects of its operations.
By necessity different departments need to specialize. There will be times when a customer needs to be referred to someone else to provide the answers they seek. Such handoffs should be as frictionless as possible, with the customer’s data and interaction history seamlessly transferred from system to system, person-to-person.
It is better to handoff a customer to another expert rather than try and bluff, invent or exaggerate to resolve a customer question in the shortest possible time.
It is inevitable that at some point later in the customer’s journey the “misunderstanding” will come to light. And it only takes one perceived falsehood to undermine the credibility of everything else that you do.
Great CX = Trust and Empathy
Delivering an exceptional customer experience is an exercise in empathy and trust. You must understand your customers, their needs and the context within which they operate.
You must also respect the implicit levels of trust placed on you during every interaction.
Oh, and the origin of Boxing Day?
Although the first recorded use of “Boxing Day” applied to December 26 only dates from around 1830, it is related to the idea of a “Christmas Box,” which is thought to have originated in the 1600s.
Traditionally servants in great houses were given the day off just after Christmas, and would go to visit their families carrying boxes that contained gifts and sometimes leftover food from the celebratory meal at the great house.
The term “Christmas Box” came to signify a gift given to a tradesman or servant during the holiday.
Boxing Day has nothing to do with the sport of boxing.
Alan J. Porter is the senior customer experience evangelist for the OpenText Customer Experience Suite.