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4 customer experience blunders (and what we can learn from them)

21 May 2021

Digital technologies are helping businesses give their customers better experiences. That is, in most cases. Over the past decade, there have also been some real customer service bloopers. Here are a few that stand out as key business lessons.

1. Keeping a customer on hold for 15 hours

A common customer gripe is being held in a queue for a call centre. One customer got so fed up with waiting in an automated line to confirm his flight, being told that his call would be answered as quickly as possible, that he decided to test that out.

According to reports, he phoned the airline at 19:22 Wednesday evening and finally hung up at 11:01 Thursday morning. He was never put through to an agent.

Do better: Flexible cloud-based contact centre solutions help companies respond effectively to fluctuations in customer demand.

2. Email chain fail

Email is still widely used to communicate with customers; but when an internal email chain gets mixed up with customer communications, things can go very wrong.

In the US, a customer emailed a company to complain about a delivery issue. The issue was escalated to senior management. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the CEO and founder, clearly irritated by the complaint and assuming that he was in an internal communications chain, wrote: “Someone also please tell her to f*** off.”

We all know what comes next. The CEO’s comment was included down the chain when a response was emailed to the customer. Unsurprisingly, she took to Twitter to let the world know of the lapse.

Do better: Integrated contact centre solutions that switch seamlessly between communication channels help avoid the pitfalls of email chains.

3. Fining customers for giving feedback

Receiving and acting upon customer feedback is the cornerstone of a successful customer experience strategy. As customers suffer feedback fatigue, it’s getting harder to attract that valuable feedback. So, customers of a New York hotel were surprised to be threatened with a fine for providing feedback.

When a customer posted a negative review, he was shocked to hear from the hotel, informing him that a $500 dollar deposit would be retained as a ‘fine’ for the negative review. After the New York Post published the story, the hotel was hit with 3000 negative reviews before apologising.

Do better: New systems let companies gather feedback from mobile phones or via social media. Layered on top of the technology should be effective human customer service.

4. Getting your customer jailed

Fraud is a real concern for banks; but an overzealous approach to fraud prevention came at the expense of customer experience when one bank employee’s actions ended up with a customer being thrown into jail and losing his job and car.

When the customer presented a large cheque – from the same bank – to cash, the teller thought it looked fake. Rather than taking a customer-first approach, the teller called the police. While the customer waited in jail for his good name to be cleared, his car was towed and auctioned off and he lost his job. An unfortunate series of events that could have been avoided had the bank teller verified their concern before contacting the authorities.

Do better: Customer experience solutions help businesses keep an eye on the entire customer journey.

Learn how we can help you to enhance your customer experience.

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