Lack of Common Sense: Continuing to Destroy Customer Experiences Around the World!


Share on LinkedIn

In April 2014, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Common Sense – The Not So Magic Customer Experience Ingredient’ – If you did not, or do not want to read it, I told two quite ridiculous tales of the lack of application of common sense. In truth, I could have written a 500,000 word white paper listing hundreds of similar examples that I have personally experienced in the past and continue to experience on a regular basis.

Whilst many of my articles may not explicitly use the words ‘common sense’, it is clearly evident that the misapplication (or complete lack) of it, is a root cause of much that is wrong with the experiences we still have with organisations in 2017. Only three weeks ago, I was quite literally flabbergasted (I love that word!), at an experience I had in a four star hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa.

One of the most basic of requirements for many human beings in 2017, is having access to Wi-Fi. Almost seen as important as electricity and water, a hotel failing to provide suitable access to Wi-Fi, is akin to a restaurant not having any food, or a shop not having anything to sell. Even if I have to pay an additional fee to use Wi-Fi, I am not too concerned, as long as I am able to connect to the web. As a regular business traveller, not only do I need Wi-Fi to work, it is also my method of staying connected with my family back at home – my FaceTime chats every morning and evening, are the highlight of my day.

This particular hotel offers Wi-Fi at no additional charge to guests – that is a great thing. Quite frankly, a hotel not offering free access to Wi-Fi these days is going to start differentiating itself in the market – and not for the right reason!! However (there is usually one of those), offering free access to Wi-Fi is only great if it actually works!!! The Wi-Fi in this hotel had the slowest connectivity I have EVER experienced. It was so slow, it was impossible to speak to my children using any online tool. I had to abandon doing any work at all – the Wi-Fi was so slow, using it was impossible.

I became so frustrated with the Wi-Fi experience, I called reception to see if there was anything they could do. I was connected to their IT department – my hopes were raised that they may be able to help me. My hopes were dashed rather quickly. I told the IT manager that the Wi-Fi was unacceptably slow – his response…. ‘I know Sir’. I kid you not!! I asked if I could pay for some kind of premium access – his response…. ‘We do not have premium access sir’. I asked if there was anything he could do to help me – anything at all – his response…. ‘No sir’. That was it.

When I checked out three days later, the receptionist asked me about my stay. I recounted my issues with the Wi-Fi – her response…. ‘Everyone says the same thing’. I kid you not! She told me that the Wi-Fi used to be faster, but the management of the hotel decided to restrict it as guests were – and I quote – ‘abusing it’! I told her that the Wi-Fi issue alone would prevent me from returning to the hotel. She said… ‘that is a shame sir’.

I bring you back to the topic of this particular article. I would argue that the application of common sense is completely lacking in this story. How can it make sense (in any way shape or form), to make life more difficult for your customers – intentionally. If guests are ‘abusing’ Wi-Fi, then offer a premium option that the ‘abusers’ can pay for. Restricting access speeds without actually THINKING, destroyed my experience at this hotel. As I told them – I will not be staying with them again.

Failure to apply common sense, continues to destroy customer experiences all over the world. Unless you have been living in a cave with no access to Wi-Fi, it can not have escaped your notice that United Airlines have come in for some rather heated criticism lately. In fact, 9 years after they were humiliated for breaking Dave Carroll’s guitar, they exposed their lack of genuine concern for their customers by physically dragging a passenger off an overbooked aircraft. I find it rather ironic that on the same date I wrote my article about common sense being the ‘not so magic customer experience ingredient’ (the 11th April 2014), United Airlines demonstrated a blatant non application of it, exactly three years later (11th April 2017)!!

The reason these things continue to happen to customers, is because organisations like my hotel in Johannesburg and like United Airlines, are so fixated on rules & regulations and terms & conditions, they are not enabling their employees to THINK! Common sense can be defined as follows (according to the Collins English Dictionary):

the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way

To apply practical knowledge and judgement, an individual needs to have the time and ability to THINK about the scenario they and their customers are in. If the IT manager I spoke to had actually listened to what I was saying and thought about the consequences of his response, he could have potentially turned a negative situation into a positive. I would have been immensely impressed if he had said to me, ‘Leave it with me sir, I’ll see what I can do’. If he appeared at the door to my room later that day with a Wi-Fi dongle to overcome the issue, I would have been delighted. That did not happen.

If the United Airlines crew and their security colleagues had THOUGHT about the consequences of their actions and how the customers would be made to FEEL about the situation they were in, they may not have done what they did. If these people had used their common sense, United Airlines may not have experienced the global media mauling they did. I don’t know about you, but I will actively avoid using United Airlines for the foreseeable future.

The lack of common sense being applied around the world continues to have a detrimental effect on the customer experience – I suspect it will continue to do so for many years to come. I and others will keep sharing stories like these to continually highlight the consequences of ignoring it – I hope you do too!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.


  1. Hi Ian! You provide some great examples about how common sense is many times not part of a companies customer service platform. I agree with you that not having sufficient access to Wi-Fi in today’s social age is absolutely ridiculous. Especially the fact that they said customers were “abusing it.” That’s the whole point of providing it! United Airlines also was a huge example of the employees not just using common sense to realize the actions of what they were doing by dragging a paying customer off of the plane. Great read!

  2. Ian,

    Your message in this article is clear and direct, I like it; thanks.

    Is it fair for me to say, one of the reasons why companies are lacking of common sense is, because they’re putting themselves in their own shoes for too long, but not in customer’s shoes?



Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here