A Customer Experience Concern That Has Steeped Far Too Long


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tea_imageI’m in a quandary and I could use some help. I am an avid drinker of green tea and have a favorite brand who shall remain nameless. I drink the stuff almost every morning but have had a poor experience with their product of late. Allow me to explain.

I recently opened a new box of tea and upon opening a bag of it, I was showered with green tea powder (Exhibit A). There was a hole in the tea bag. I checked another, and another, and sure enough, the entire box was flawed. I couldn’t remember which grocery store I bought it from so returning a three-dollar box of tea seemed pointless.

I decided to go about my business and just get another box. After brewing my first cup of tea however, I found that there wasn’t enough tea in the bag to brew a worthy cup (Exhibit B). Sure enough, every bag in this lot had the same flaw.

At this point I was seriously worried that my favorite brand of tea was having some serious quality issues. I decided to take a picture of it and email the company to make them aware of the problem. Mind you, in my email I told them of my concern for the quality of their product and at note point asked for freebies or compensation. Allow me to chronicle my dialog with their support.

Email Response #1
Shortly after sending my email to the company, I received an email response stating that they were concerned about my feedback. They asked me to call customer service and gave me a reference number.

Call To Customer Service
Upon calling customer service, I spoke with an agent who asked me to explain my entire complaint to him. Apparently, my reference number wasn’t good for a whole lot. He clearly had no clue what to do but did ask if I had tried to return the tea to the store I bought it from. I indicated that I forgot which store I bought it from and I was more concerned about the quality of their product. After placing me on hold for about five minutes, he told me that a manager would give me a call to discuss further. I thanked him and decided to wait for my phone call.

My Follow Up Email
My conversation with them occurred on December 14. After not hearing anything for more than three weeks I emailed them asking for a status on January 8.

Email Response #2
I received a fairly prompt email response apologizing for the lack of response. The agent said they have arranged for a specialist to follow up but that I may want to call them, as they are extremely busy. That was five days ago. I have not called them nor have I received a call.

I get it. The picture I sent them represents about $0.25 worth of green tea. Big whoop right? Well consider that I have spent at least $100 on their product over the years and a whole lot more with their parent company and my confidence as a customer is teetering.

Anyway, what would you do if you were in my shoes? Would you:

A. Drop it, get on with your life and continue to buy your favorite tea?
B. Fight to the very end and sully the name of this company on every review site until they hear you?
C. Drop it and find a new favorite brand of tea?
D. Continue to pursue this in hopes of having more content for your blog.

Yeah, yeah the answer is probably D. Admittedly I’m a sucker for a good customer experience story. Regardless of your choice, I am reminded of the fact that when a customer offers feedback, they want to know that someone is listening. Had the frontline agent been empowered to say something like “I am so sorry for this poor experience. I will be sure to pass your feedback on to my manager,” I think I would have been satisfied. If I was running that team I may have even empowered my employees to send a coupon out for a free box of tea.

Being ignored doesn’t feel good does it? Are you listening to your customers and giving them the priority they deserve? Are you empowering your frontline agents to respond empathetically and effectively to customer complaints? Or are you giving them the run around in hopes that they will ultimately go away?

I’ll write a follow up to this post if I ever see a resolution on this issue. The way I’ve been treated thus far, I’m not holding my breath.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


  1. Seems to me your statement at the end that “Had the frontline agent been empowered to say something like "I am so sorry for this poor experience. I will be sure to pass your feedback on to my manager," I think I would have been satisfied.” hits the nail on the head.

    Clearly they have been trained to try demonstrate concern over your dissatisfaction, but they don’t have a process that can reliably back up the expectations they set. They promised a call back from a higher authority which was supposed to make you feel important and that they care a great deal about your satisfaction (they probably do). Unfortunately, it backfired and the lack of the promised follow-up created even more dissatisfaction, and bad PR too! All this because of one to do that feel of of someone’s list.

    This is a really important lesson for me. I’d sum it up like this: Your customer service process need to be designed from your Customer’s point of view with the goal of satisfying their expectations not your projection of your own expectations on them or some theoretical best practice. It doesn’t matter one bit what you would like to have happen. Only your actual Customer’s expectations matter.

    Which means you have to know what they expect. Which means you have to ask.


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