Epic customer experience fails: You cannot make this stuff up!


I speak about customer experience on a daily basis with numerous companies in different industries, and I always hear the same thing: We care about our customers. We want to better understand who they are, and anticipate their needs.

So why do so many brands still consistently deliver poor experiences? We see and hear all the stories about oversold planes, missed service calls, incorrect bills, and frustrating interactions with companies we sponsor regularly. According to market research, 67% of customers who have a poor brand experience will never come back, and the majority of them will go to a competitor.

I debated whether to share a personal story, and the immediate and long-term revenue impact to this particular company. I don’t want to be seen as complaining and I don’t want revenge (well maybe). I do want this to be cathartic and to end the night terrors.

And, more importantly, I want to simply discuss how important a good customer experience is to your business and what it means to turn loyal brand advocates into customers for life.

Customer experience fails: A true story

In the midst of moving homes, we were looking to transfer our existing television and internet – the same service that we’ve had for over 15 years. I called our provider, whom I spend greater than $200 per month with, in addition to other services that our family uses. (Don’t judge me that I still haven’t cut the cord!)

After a 25 minute conversation, the transfer was set to happen on June 16th. Unfortunately, there were a couple of challenges with the purchase of the new house and the move was delayed, so I called back on June 14th and spent another 30 minutes on the phone simply to change the appointment until 10 days later. “No problem, you’re all set…and would you like to hear about our other services, promotions?” Just want to change the appointment today, but I’ll keep it in mind, thanks.

Saturday morning, 2 days later, I awoke to a family who hated me. They had not processed the change, and had disconnected my existing service. So, 8am on a Saturday, not having anything better to do, I called the company and spent 40 minutes discussing the situation and what should’ve happened.

I was told that if I rebooted the system in 15-20 minutes, we’d be all set. Of course, I then received a call from the technician who was headed to the new house to hook up service. (Memo to all: Truck rolls are expensive, and wasted ones are even worse.)

My wife and I ran a few errands, discovering upon return that we were still without internet or tv, as my 3 year old and 15 year old daughters engaged in an all-out WWE like smackdown. (My money was on the 3 year old.)

Back on the phone, I was told 15 minutes, 30 minutes, then, after an hour, ”we have completely wiped your account.” I had to ask my wife to talk so that I could go for a bike ride before I lost my mind.

Two hours later…

My loving wife of 19 years, who is patient and understanding began sounding like a crazed lunatic after speaking to five other people, “You’re financially current so not sure why we can’t turn it on”, “We need to set you up for a new 12 month contract” (I’m in a contract already!)  “We can get a tech there on Thursday!?”…and again, “it will be up and running in 15 minutes.”

Finally after the service wasn’t turned on, I decided to call back and cancel the service altogether. 45 minutes into this call, moving up the from 21 to 6, the phone disconnected. You can’t make this stuff up! At this point, I began searching for alcohol. Luckily, the agent actually called me back (awesome!), saying he’d spoken to the back office (heard that previously), and that we’d have service within four hours.

When Monday arrived, I decided I’d had it with this vendor, and went to their competitor’s store, and signed a new 2 year contract.

The moral of the story: Unify customer profiles for outstanding CX

Unfortunately, many of us can relate to this type of experience. Why is it the case? There are a number of reasons, and at the center is data.

Companies don’t have a single view of customers because of bad data and disconnected systems and processes. It’s 2018 – if we can build self-driving cars and send them into space, we should be able to provide a seamless customer experience with each interaction, creating brand advocates and customers for life.

A good experience starts with trust, and more particularly, trusted data. If we allow customers to choose what to share, and how they’d like to interact with us, we can then then build accurate profiles and a more complete view. Once we have access to this data, however, a connected front and back office is required to allow data to flow freely through all interaction points and allow our employees to provide more personalized experiences.

I cannot believe that everyone we spoke to that day was simply incompetent. They were simply hamstrung by disconnected systems themselves.

Imagine if you will a different situation for my former vendor. When I called and provided them my details, they had a holistic view of my account, complete with spend for ALL their products, and were empowered to not only turn my service back on, but offer a refund, rebate, or promotional rate they knew I could benefit from, making me feel better about them.

I’m certain they wouldn’t have lost me as a customer. Or, better yet, I could’ve spent 5 minutes changing my appointment online through self-service, and not wasting precious time speaking to IVRs and agents who were multi-tasking. We do live in a digital age with over 3.5B internet users globally.

More importantly, it’s clear that we consumers are willing to pay for a better experience, and are brand loyal if that experience adds value. Just look at how many airline and hotel rewards programs you participate in today. And, companies like REI, Zappos, and others have built tremendous success through defining a new experience paradigm.

So what’s needed for your organization to capture and leverage the data in order to provide better customer experiences and a better bottom line. And why haven’t you done it yet?

Win the crucial customer moments that matter.
Learn more here. 

Fred Soller
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Fred Soller

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