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Customer Experience

Trick Or Treat? Scary Customer Stories And How To Fix Them

A moving skull and the words "Happy Halloween".

Halloween is once again upon us, which means it’s time for ghosts and goblins and scary stories. Hopefully your company’s experience journey doesn’t qualify as a scary customer story, though research from Acquia shows that nearly half of consumers say the brands they engage with don’t meet their expectations for a good experience, and nearly two-thirds can’t remember the last time a brand exceeded their expectations. So what’s really scary is how low the experience bar is and yet how many companies still fail to clear it.

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s look at some “tricks” that companies play on their customers, and the “treats” they could provide instead.

TRICK: A customer calls his or her cable company every year to complain about rising prices. The conversation is always the same: The agent mentions a new plan that offers the exact same features but for less money, the customer asks to switch, the agent obliges, and despite saving money the customer hangs up frustrated. 

TREAT: The cable company calls the customer to alert him or her that they’ve identified a matching plan for less money, and that they’ve proactively switched his account for a savings of $XX per month. Can you imagine how the customer feels about the cable company now, even though the result is the same?

TRICK: An airline’s Finance department devises multiple nuisance fees to charge customers in order to improve the bottom line. Suddenly checking bags, changing flights, eating food, using WiFi, redeeming miles, and other parts of the flying experience now cost more money, and passengers feel they are being “nickled and dimed” to death as seats get smaller and planes get more crowded.

TREAT: The airline decides that the Finance department shouldn’t be dictating customer experience, and that happy travelers make their employees’ jobs much easier. Happy employees then in turn provide a better experience for travelers, who now feel they are getting a good value for their money without extra fees. 

TRICK: Rewards points or miles are allowed to expire after a certain period of time (thanks again to the Finance department) and the company hopes the customer won’t notice so it can get the liability off its books.

TREAT: Rewards that are earned through loyalty should include having the company show some loyalty back to the customer. The company, always appreciative of its customers that keep it in business, decides that once earned, rewards can never be lost.

TRICK: A customer tweets at her favorite pizza delivery company and asks if they’ll be delivering on New Year’s Eve. The company says yes, but then on December 31st its app malfunctions and since no one is working that night, it never gets fixed and the customer’s tweets go unanswered. The customer can’t order the pizza.

TREAT: All is not lost, however, as the customer retrieves a frozen pizza from her freezer and shares a photo of her and her husband enjoying that brand’s pizza on New Year’s Eve because delivery failed. The frozen pizza company responds quickly her positive post, glad they could save the night.

TRICK: A customer complains on social media after a poor experience with a company, and secretly hopes to embarrass the company in public.

TREAT: The company takes complains seriously and responds immediately, seeking more information and demonstrating a willingness to make it right with the customer. The customer’s anger at the company dissipates because of the great service, and other social media onlookers are impressed at the care provided by the company in public.

This Halloween, take the time to examine your company’s customer journey and look for places where you might be, even inadvertently, creating a “trick” when you could be providing a “treat.” Get rid of those scary customer stories! Maybe you could even become the equivalent of the cool house on the block that hands out the full-sized candy bars.

Some of these scary stories appeared in The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share, available on Amazon.

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