Customer Experience Files: Working Out the Kinkos

Yesterday, I spent some time at Fedex/Kinkos, trying to print out an 11x17 document on a high quality color printer. I was paying ten cents a minute to access the network and connect to the printer, plus a charge for each copy that ran through the printer.

In line with Murphy’s law, the printer encountered a paper jam – and my print became locked in a vice grip inside the printer. I asked for some support, and a rather slow, dull-eyed employee came over to clear the jam. After clearing the jam, he mumbled something about trying it again and walked away. I tried again, only to get another, identical paper jam. I had to find him and ask for help again. Sighing, he came over and tried to fix the printer. He came to my computer and checked my settings. Told me to try again and walked away.

Wash, rinse, repeat. This happened four times. On the fourth try, instead of resolving my issue with me, he walked away in the middle of things to help another customer and never came back. My clock had now been ticking in excess of 70 minutes, and he provided no suggestion, follow up or assistance to help me gain closure. I was thinking to myself, “At least tell me to go to Staples if you can’t get the printer to work!”

I truly hit a dead end with the guy, and decided to go to the manager. I provided him with some gentle feedback, which he accepted graciously. He eagerly stepped up to the plate to make me a happy customer, got me the resolution I needed, and credited me for my time. He made eye contact, was responsive and apologetic about the dull-eyed associate's approach. He commented that he’d provide him some additional coaching to help him with future interaction.

"Joe Manager" turned my experience around – for me, and for Kinkos, as any good manager should. He did it even though he was busy. He focused on me as if I were his only customer. He also followed up with the associate (I witnessed this later) which made me feel good about his committment to service.

This is a small but effective example of how important having the right “frontline response” is, when customers inadvertently run into common experience pitfalls. We can't always have flawless experiences, but when we have the fundamentals in place, we can rescue experiences that go wrong with grace and success.


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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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