The Devil is in the Details: How resetting a password can lose a customer.


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Keurig has lost an opportunity to stay in frequent contact with me and establish themselves as “my coffee company.”

It’s not just the functional design of interactions, but how you handle the customer when they fail, that determines your customer retention success.

In this article, I’ll explore how a failed password reset turned into make-or-break customer decision due to two contributing factors:

  1. Loyalty for the sake of loyalty.
  2. Out of the box functionality vs. design by need.

And then I’ll explain three key solutions that companies can implement to prevent such failures:

  1. Engage and empower employees.
  2. Create programs based on your customer, not the competition.
  3. Embrace user-driven design not IT-driven design.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

When it comes to customer experience, the devil is in the details. A Chief Customer Officer can create a broad sweeping, exceptional customer experience strategy but can lose countless customers based on the smallest, tiniest interaction—even something as simple as an online password reset.

This concept became crystal clear on a personal level past Saturday when doing something as mundane as ordering more coffee. I have a Keurig and I order K-cups from them online. Unfortunately, this time I could not get into my account. I tried the password reset feature, but it wouldn’t work.

Needing to reset my password is not a reason for me to “leave” Keurig. How Keurig handled my password reset is why.

When I could not get in, I submitted a customer service request to Keurig and jumped over to to order my coffee. Then, I forgot about it. Amazon delivered my coffee four days later… and hours after that my customer service request response arrived from Keurig. I got my coffee before I got my help from Keurig!

Unfortunately the response from Keurig was not only very late, but also generic in nature. To make matters worse, the email instructed me to call a 800# for help. does not offer enough value to cause me to spend my time on the phone. Additionally, I already had a better experience at where I found a greater flavor selection and lower shipping costs. At this point, yes, a simple failure of the password reset lost Keurig a customer.

To top it off, the help email is not even addressed directly to me, but to the help representative. It occurs to me that a mass email was sent out to several people.

In this scenario, it’s important to note that it was not just the difficulty of getting back into the website to order, but other mitigating factors that lead to my defection to Amazon. Two additional issues with Keurig’s overall program are:

  1. Loyalty for the Sake of Loyalty:
    Keurig offers loyalty points that can be redeemed for Keurig machines and accessories. Nice but not a huge value to me. Given that I spent $150 on a machine and am willing to pay about $.55 per cup of home-brewed coffee, a few loyalty points aren’t going to sway me. As a customer, I want convenience and a variety of selection. Keurig is offering neither. Most of their items of are out of stock and I found even more coffee / tea brands on Amazon. Also, making me jump through hoops is making it too hard for me to continue to be a customer. (For me, calling someone on the phone is jumping through hoops.)
  2. Out of Box Functionality vs. Design by Need:
    Keurig’s functionality of the Forgot Your Password feature is overkill. There are endless issues with email deliverability and spam software. Please just allow me to reset it directly online. Keurig is not saving any valuable data or financial information, just a record of those loyalty points. Therefore, a within-screen reset is all the functionality needed. By comparison, I also just reset my 529 account, that has tens of thousands of dollars in it, and I could do it all within-screen with just my social and username.

How to Ensure that Every Detail is Perfect

How can a company avoid such customer losses due to such a little function on their website? Does a CEO or Chief Customer Officer need to see every little detail, in every little interaction with the customer? No. Keurig’s customer experience failure occurred because of three, bigger picture issues (these my are assumptions based on the outcome I experienced) that can be mitigated if a company can:

  1. Engage and Empower Employees: It appears as though Keurig front-line employees were not compelled to give me a timely, personalized response. I accept that the IT system may be forcing the need to telephone in.. but why? Can’t someone from Keurig just reset my password on the back-end and email me the new one directly? Or telephone me and leave it on my voicemail (I registered my machine so they should have my number). Engaged employees, whether they are front line or back office, realize that everything they do contributes to the customer’s experience and they are empowered to make decisions to ensure outstanding customer experiences. Employee engagement starts with corporate culture and is reinforced with training, rewards systems, and hiring practices. When it comes to employee engagement, I turn to Ron Thomas’s blog Strategy Focused HR >>>
  2. Create Programs Based on Your Customer, Not the Competition: I did not take those extra steps to get back in and order at because Keurig did not provide an incentive. It strikes me that Keurig had loyalty points for the sake of having a loyalty program. Instead, talk to your customers and find out what they really want. These are my personal desires, but I want greater selection, free shipping, and maybe free “tasting packs” instead of loyalty points towards my next machine. Because how long is it going to take the first machine to break anyway? It’s easy to listen to customers – there are a wealth of experts and software programs on Customer Think >>> to get you started. Some of my favorites to follow on Twitter, who are not traditional customer experience folks, are: @vanderbeeken of People People First >>>, @thebrainlady Susan Weinschenk >>>, @DeliverBliss Tim Sanchez >>> , and @LindaIreland Linda Ireland >>>.
  3. Embrace User-Driven Design Not IT-Driven Design: I may be inaccurate here, but the ecommerce site strikes me as an out of the box engine designed to accomplish things, but not designed to meet customer’s needs. Sure, you can start with a template-based engine to save money and time, but then talk to your customers and adjust the functionality to meet their needs. If you roll with a template as is, then you are not providing a unique customer experience, but really the same experience everyone who bought that package provides. Usability research comes in many flavors, styles, and cost ranges from simple Go To Meeting based user interviews to complex, lab-based studies. Usability research on your web and mobile platforms is an investment that ensures you never lose a customer to a minor functional issue again. When it comes to user-centered research methods, I turn to Bella Martin, blogger at UX Groundswell >>>, and co-author of upcoming book Design Research Essentials to be published by Rockport in 2012. Another resource for high-end usability testing labs is @customerexplabs >>>

With all this said, do I regret buying my Keurig machine? No, it’s truly a wonderful machine. I have had other one-cup brewers and this is the best. The coffee taste is as close to a coffee shop as you can get. When it comes to product design and functionality, Keurig hit a home run. I’m sure Keurig is very focused on the customer experience when it comes to their product, but it is a shame that they were unable to extend that focus to other customer touchpoints.

Will I buy another Kuerig again? Probably. Will I buy K-cups from Keurig again? Probably not. Perhaps K-Cup revenue is not a large factor for Keurig, but what they have lost is even more valuable—Keurig has lost an opportunity to stay in frequent contact with me and establish themselves as “my coffee company.”

P.S. I do also want to thank my friend and User Researcher Julie Carlini >>> who planted the seed for this article and whose terrier-like defense of “minor functionality” is a rare, but much needed approach to web application design.

P.S.S. Dear Keurig, if you want to email me a new password and give me a free sample pack for my efforts, I may come back

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Raelin Musuraca
Customer Experience Strategist, Musuraca LLC
Raelin Musuraca is versatile and energetic customer experience strategist with twenty years practicing marketing, digital strategy, and user experience. She has led multidisciplinary teams in the development of award-winning marketing and customer engagement programs.


  1. Update: Keurig did reach out to me on April 25th and sought to speak with me in person about my issues. I have been swamped with a project and unable to touch base with them – but kudos for a telephone call and email, however this was only after they saw the blog post. But they did offer coupons 😉


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