“Such Poor Customer Experience!” 3 Industries I Hear About Every Day


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While many of the readers of this blog (that’s you!) are familiar with customer experience terms and ideas, most people still are not. It’s not uncommon to get a bit of a long stare after I answer the question of “what do you do?” at a cocktail party or on an airplane.

So I explain our work of helping companies and organizations understand the true experience of their customers, leading to improved experiences. My new friend gets it, but sees it as improving only the worst of the worst. Consistently, he or she has some great advice for me.

“You should really work with…”

It’s amazing how consistently this happens. As customers, we know when we’ve had a poor customer experience and we know right from wrong. It seems obvious which industries and brands need to pay attention to this.

As customers, we don’t care about how difficult the industry competition is or how regulations make processes more challenging. As customers, we don’t see the difference between our corner coffee shop and a multinational corporation. So customers tell me, again and again, that I should really pitch this improvement idea to three industries.

  • Airlines
  • Mobile Communications
  • Cable/Satellite TV

And I nod along as my seat mate or party friend tell me the latest horror story of waiting on hold, paying for service that wasn’t requested, losing service unexpectedly, or more. The viral videos of customer service reps losing their cool or falling asleep on couches fit nicely into these categories, too.

poor customer experience

But here’s the thing my new friends don’t understand.

They don’t understand how these industries were born in eras when technology was the competitive differentiator, and these veteran brands are now forced to keep up with disrupters. With cocktail in hand, my friend will wave off the complicated nature of these products.

Considering how to move people around the globe or deliver invisible service to smart phones and televisions…it’s pretty complicated stuff! One outage creates massive issues for employees and customers alike. And customers simply don’t understand the way hiring thousands of customer-facing employees increases the chances of having less engaged, unhappy brand representatives.

These are the things I hear from friends working in these industries. And I get it. It is complicated. It is regulated. It is a often a price-based customer battlefield. I totally get it.

It doesn’t change how customers feel.

But what I hear from customers, again and again, is how it really feels rotten.

Nobody likes being treated as a “nobody” as one woman said to me. “When I call that customer service number, I’m already preparing to be treated like a nobody.”

Another mentioned how he couldn’t understand how some brands within these industries have nice people, and some don’t.

And finally a woman named Jean who was 78 shared quietly how she lived without her cable or internet service for a month simply because she had been treated so poorly by the original installer, she was afraid he was going to come back to her house.

A better experience is ALWAYS possible.

These frequently mentioned industries and the people who work in them are not evil. They are hard working and try their best. Flight attendants and pilots are often in their own battles for decent work conditions and enough sleep. Communications techs are forced to keep up in an incredibly fast-paced world, but asked to work on systems from 30 years ago in the same day.

It IS complicated. But it’s not impossible to create an environment where people are treated well.

The brands that stand out to customers, they stand out because customers aren’t afraid of calling them for help. They know they’ll be ok. Some organizations within these industries have absolutely done this. They have prioritized hiring the right people and then prioritized training them. They don’t put up with people who poison the environment with bad attitudes and intimidation.

It can be done. It is totally complicated. But it’s not impossible. Customers know right from wrong, and the organizational leadership does, too.

So to my future friends who tell me I should keep working, I hear you. I’m working on it. I promise.

Image Credit: Tony Biondo via Creative Commons license

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a globally recognized speaker, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a Tedx speaker. She’s a very active writer and blogger, contributing to leading publications from Forbes to Pearson college textbooks. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.”


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