CX: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly #8

8 ways you know you live in a rural area and the significance of balance in the context of Customer Experience.

After living in a major Canadian city for more than 40 years, you do get a little spoiled with access to many amenities, resources and services. In moving to a rural community, you must adjust your expectations or simply suffer through experiences that are not quite as good in some ways.

Here are 8 ways you know you live in a rural area.

1. You do more yourself and pay more out of pocket for municipal services. The tax base is much smaller, so municipal services like garbage collection require you to pay for what you use and do more of the work yourself, hauling your refuse to the local dump.

2. Access to contractors and supplies is more limited, with several consequences.

  1. You have limited options for comparison shopping, which limits your choices.
  2. Your timed plans mean nothing. Contractors work on one timetable - their own. With so few of them, they are busy and they control when you get their services.
  3. You pay more for their services simply because demand exceeds supply. If you do not accept their price, the neighbour down the road surely will.

3. On occasion you get no service at all. A popular restaurant near us gets busy during peak hours. They also have a small kitchen. During those times, you can call forever and get a busy signal. This is because they take the phone off the hook. Seriously…

4. Even in a country with such riches as Canada, rural areas lack basic infrastructure, particularly for telecom services. It is not uncommon for major telcos like Bell and Rogers to refuse your request for service. This is because they cannot meet their standards for  performance (e.g. bandwidth, signal quality and reliability, speed of connections). From experience, they would rather refuse service and not take your money than live with the complaints that follow when nothing works like it should. This means turning to the secondary market for those services, which is… secondary - more limited features, more expensive services.

5. Everything pretty much works on one speed – rather slow. This applies to traffic and all retail services that involve queuing.

6. With no car in a rural area, you are stranded. You better get along nicely with your neighbours, whom you may need to call upon in a pinch. In the city, most everything is within walking distance. New Yorkers rave about not needing a car. It is true. Everything they may need is right around the corner, or a short trip on mass transit.

It’s not all bad, though.

7. People are genuinely kind, helpful and gracious. They extend you their hand before being suspicious. They love to share their experience and guidance. All of your neighbours have your back. As a stranger, you will never feel more welcomed than you will in a rural part of the country

8. Rural means calm, quiet and tranquility. You do not get loud noise. There is not a lot of road rage. You can find solitude everywhere. And you can mitigate life’s stresses in a heartbeat, finding your groove in your own happy place.

In the end, it really is about finding balance relative to your goals. The rural experience is not all bad. Some have learned that points 7 and 8 may go a long way to overcoming the shortcomings noted in points 1 through 6. For some with other goals, the balance may be entirely different. In an earlier stage of life, I personally found little solace in points 7 and 8, preferring the opportunities afforded me in a big city. Over time, goals change and a new balance is desired.

Takeaways

  1. It’s good to understand that people look for balance in whatever journeys they undertake.
  2. It’s bad to assume that journeys remain fixed in time – the opposite is true, they evolve and change over time as goals change.
  3. It’s really ugly to consider a journey without really understanding the goals, and the significance of balance.

Written by Andreas Noe

Andreas H. Noe, MBA, BComm Marketing, is a founding partner of Phase 5 and has more than 30 years of experience in marketing research and consulting. Andreas leads Phase 5’s Customer Experience and Market Insights teams.