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Understanding the customer's perspective

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 08:00
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Every now and then, my wife and I look forward to loading up the little RV we own and getting a weekend away to decompress. The last such weekend was near the end of January. While my wife was finishing up her workday, I filled up our 2013 Ram pickup with fuel and hooked her up to the trailer. In just a few hours, my wife would be home and we'd be on our way.

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Now, to put this into some additional perspective, the RV has presented me with some real challenges over the last six months of 2018. I've had to rip out a large part of the flooring to repair water damage caused by miscellaneous leaks and most recently, had to have the rear ramp of this "toy hauler" rebuilt due to water damage to its base. The last time we had a chance to really enjoy it was late last summer. So you can imagine how much the two of us were looking forward to this trip.

My wife gets home and after an hour or so of final prep, it's time to hit the road. I put the key in the ignition and — NOTHING! Only an error message in the instrument panel display that's telling me that I'm using the "wrong key fob." I drove this truck not three hours prior to this!

How can it be the "wrong key fob" when it's the same key I just used three hours ago? That's what your customer is asking themselves.

It didn't take too long to figure out that we were going nowhere until the key was replaced and programmed to the truck. I couldn't even put the vehicle in neutral to move it away from the RV. With a little help from my youngest son, we disconnected the Ram's driveshaft and used his Ford F250 to tug it out of the way. And with the help of another youngster I've known since his high school days, we hooked up to a substitute tow vehicle and still made it to our final destination before midnight.

As we drove down the driveway, I could only think to myself, "What if this happened AFTER we got to the campground?"

Understanding your customers' frustrations

I think you know how frustrated I was when the truck failed to start. And you can probably understand how even more frustrated I was when faced with a problem I couldn't fix. My wife sat patiently in the front seat of the Ram as I tried several times to start the truck, only to get the same error message. She offered suggestions similar to what I'm sure any helpful wife would offer their husband when faced with this situation. "Try wiggling the key, honey." "Are you sure you're using the right key?"

After we had settled in at the campground, I had a chance to consider "How would a consumer with no knowledge of this system's function feel in this same situation?" A couple had planned their weekend getaway weeks in advance, made the necessary reservations, packed carefully to make sure nothing needed would be left behind. Anticipation is high and then the balloon bursts as a vehicle failure puts an abrupt end to everything.

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