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CX Horror Stories II

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Hosts Steve Walker and Pat Gibbons present another frightful episode of CX Horror Stories – tales of customer experience gone bad. This year’s scary offerings include healthcare, travel, and automotive repair. 

Transcript

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Spooky Voice:
[sound effects: wind howling, foot steps, door knocking, a creaky door opening]

Spooky Voice:
Good evening, friend. I see you've come to enjoy the festivities. Well, I've got a few interesting things planned for you. Some scary stories, if you will. Tales of how companies failed to deliver on good customer experience. Ghoulish accounts of missed recoveries. Spoken tragedies of poor customer empathy. Too much? Well, wait until you hear this years C.X. Horror stories. [Evil laugh]

Steve:
Hey, Pat, you know what that means, right?

Pat:
I think so. I… I just don't know if I can take hearing more of those awful stories of bad experience.

Steve:
I know, I know. But it's a sacrifice we need to make. Hearing the bad helps us strive for the good. That's why we're telling some scary stories on this special Halloween episode of… [scream] The CX Leader Podcast.

Spooky Voice:
The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone, I'm Steve Walker, the host of The CX Leader Podcast, and thank you for listening to our special Halloween edition. Listeners to our podcast know that the purpose of this program is to provide helpful knowledge and insights to customer experience professionals so they can provide the best experience for their customers. But not all companies are as diligent in their CX efforts. Today, we're going to listen to three stories of customer experience gone awry, and helping me get through that terrifying ordeal is my colleague and a frequent guest host of the podcast – everybody ought to know Pat Gibbons. Pat, thanks for helping me get through this.

Pat:
Hey, anytime, Steve. You know, it's… it's a difficult task, but, you know, it always helps to have a friend involved.

Steve:
We always have a lot of fun with this. So let's get into our first CX horror story. What do you got teed up for us here?

Pat:
All right. So the first one we're going to pick on health care. And, you know, it's kind of hard to pick on 'em, but sometimes they deserve it. So the first story is going to be about a woman who had a young child that she was trying to get some care because she thought they had an ear infection. But the trouble she went through just to even get him in, to see somebody look in the ear was enough to drive her batty.

Steve:
Well, let's listen to that one.

Diane:
Ok. So my horror story has to do with personal experience I had with my daughter. She's about eight months old. Had a cold and was coughing and had congestion. And so we were watching her carefully. Just because she's so small. And so it was around three o'clock in the afternoon and I called the pediatrician to see if I could get her in real quick just to see if they had a… if she had an ear infection. So I want to get her on antibiotics right away. Well, they couldn't get her in, which I was not surprised about. I knew it was late. So they said, well, you could go to urgent care. I looked on our insurance website to see what urgent carers were covered, which ones were in network so that there wouldn't be some additional fees. I was trying to be a responsible patient. And I ended up having to call into the insurance, talk to them, figure out where I can go. I find one that I can go to, but I have this feeling that they don't see small children and so I was looking on their website. Couldn't find anything. I went to F.A.Q… So then I call them and sit there forever, trying to go through the routing system to talk to the right person end up hitting zero because I'm tired of having to repeat my request and then I'm waiting and they hang up on me.

Diane:
And I was so annoyed. So by this point I had picked them up at daycare and I just decided I'm going to give it a try. We'll go because it's very close. We'll see if they'll take her. And so we… I pick up two of my children at daycare. So I tote them, get them packed up in the van. We go to this urgent care facility and sign in. They don't have their online kiosk up and running; it looks like it must be down, but they have a little paper sign and it looks like I don't have to wait too long. So I'm like, OK, well, I'll sign in and I'll wait here. So we wait in the waiting room and I'm there with a 4 year old and also a baby that happens to be sick and kind of anxious wanting to get to be seen. So after waiting about 15 minutes, we get called back. And as we're walking in, I say, do you treat babies? I couldn't find anything on the website. And I tried to call and the nurse practitioner automatically said, no… they have to be 18 months of age or older.

Diane:
So frustrated at the time. And she could see that I was incredibly frustrated. So I told her everything that I did and how it's incredibly frustrating. And she said, well, if our online kiosk would have been up and running, you would have seen right away that we wouldn't have treated her and that you could have just left. I'm like, well, yes, but it wasn't on. It was down and there was no sign or anything. So I just wasted 15 minutes waiting here. And so I kind of begged her. I said, could you please just look in her ears and tell me if I need to take her somewhere else? And thankfully, she did. She… and she couldn't say that she would do it. It didn't go in their system. But she just quickly looked in her ears and said, you know, you should go do this and that. So in that moment, it did help. She provided a little bit of recovery from that bad experience. But I'm not sure I want to go back to that place again in the future just because of all the missteps that it took to figure out if we could even be treated when we couldn't.

Steve:
Well, I can't think of anything more horrible than, you know, trying to get health care for a baby and dealing with that kind of frustration, so that is indeed a horror story, isn't it?

Pat:
Yeah, the… you know, one of the lines that struck me was when she said "I was trying to be a responsible patient." You know, this is one of those situations… and let's face it, healthcare is complex and I think they've done a lot to make… improve the digital experience and improve all the information out there. But there's so many steps and you got to get them right. And then… and this is one of those cases where you have people that tried to follow the process, tried to do everything right. But still, you know, it just didn't work out.

Steve:
Yeah, if you unpack that whole scenario, I mean, the you know, the Web site didn't work. She had a suspicion. So she tries to go to the second option, which is to call she can't get through. They they actually end up hanging up on her and then she sits there for 15 minutes. You know,

Pat:
Right. And the online kiosk: it doesn't work.

Steve:
Yeah. And then the health care provider kind of says, well, if our online kiosk was up, well, it wasn't, you know.

Pat:
That's really comforting, right?

Steve:
Let's blame the technology

Pat:
Right.

Steve:
So…

Pat:
Right. You know, the other thing that it brings up and I'll kind of mention this as something coming up: you know, we have an upcoming episode of our podcast that deals with health care, where a CX professional did a really interesting thing, taking people through an immersive experience, having employees and board members go through the experience as a patient would. Now, you can imagine the impact that has when people say "this is what people have to deal with every day." And I know there's regulations. You know, they have lots of T's to cross and I's to dot. But just having an understanding of the experience and having empathy for what people are going through, which in the end of this story, I think that was the winning thing, that the nurse practitioner had some empathy to say, OK, I will tweak the rules and help you out.

Steve:
Yeah, I think that's a great lesson for… for CX is when… when all the systems break down, you know, somebody needs to take care of the customer. You know, it's my analogy back to football: you know, you have a game plan and everybody's got their assignment. But then when things break down, you sort of need somebody to make a play. And that's exactly what happens at the end of the day, if all the processes and systems are breaking down, somebody needs to go ahead and make things right with the customer. Hey, one other thing I was going to mention here is that all three of our examples are really B2C, and a lot of our listeners are used to us having a focus on B2B. But I just want to emphasize that, you know, B2B customer experience ultimately ends up affecting people and that the B2C analogies and stories are really the ones that we can relate to kind of on a visceral level. But be reminded that, you know, even B2B you're dealing with humans, and if your systems and processes don't deliver, there is… there's frustration out there. So again, we use a lot of B2C examples just because they resonate with people. And also in our work, we found that, that B2B very much follows B2C out there. I don't know if you have any thoughts on that.

Pat:
No, I think that's absolutely right. I think that the expectations created by B2C and what consumers experience those translate to those in a B2B environment, they expect the same thing.

Steve:
Yeah, it's like, you know, if you can order on Amazon and get it delivered next day, you know, why can't you order something at your office through another vendor and… and get it the next day?

Pat:
Right.

Steve:
So.

Pat:
Right.

Steve:
All right, shall we listen to the story number two?

Pat:
Well, here's another common one with a twist, and that is travel. OK, so [laughing] so we all have travel stories, but this one is about a travel story that hasn't even occurred yet. So a guy and his wife are going on kind of the trip of a lifetime. And even though he's pretty skilled at planning his own trips, he decides to go through an online service because this one is a little more complex and he thinks he needs help. In the end, he probably could have gotten by without it. Let's listen.

Gary:
All right, so about a year ago, Sherry and I, we decided to go on a big trip to New Zealand. We'd never been there before. Heard great things about it. We came across a well-known supplier in the travel business that does multi-sport type of planned vacations. So we decided, hey, let's just let them do all the planning. It's like it looks like a great itinerary. All we have to do is just sign up for it and they'll take care of everything else. We'll let them do everything. And from that point on, problems soon began. It was just very painful in a lot of ways. And it didn't take long for either oversights, errors, lack of response. It's like, you name it, it started to happen and it started to make us questions it's like, OK, did we make the right decision on this or not? And it was just a long string of things that occurred. And I don't remember them all, but some of the main things: all right. I have a difficult last name, "Szeszycki." Throw in my wife's official middle name, which is her maiden name. "Soforic," it's like there's a lot of spelling issues going on with our names when we sign up for things. So I took painstaking effort to be sure everything was spelled properly to them for when they would go ahead and make the reservation special on the airlines. When it came back, what was the first thing that happened? My wife named Sherryl, "S, H, E, R, R, Y, L" was spelled "C, H, E, R, R, Y, L" on the reservation. So all the paperwork had to be redone.

Gary:
Next thing was they told us that they would actually give us first hand knowledge about a particular area of the vacation we wanted to do, which is a place in Milford Sound. Never heard back from them. No follow up. I sent messages saying, "hey, you gonna like tell me about this particular thing? We're actually very interested in getting that information." No, no, we never heard anything about that, so never got the feedback from there. One of the bigger ones they sent was a handbook. So we're getting later into the engagement. We basically had paid for everything and he said, "hey, we sent you a big handbook about the entire itinerary and what we're gonna be doing." And when I looked at that handbook, it was for trip to New York City and not to New Zealand. So had to follow-up and go, "hey, wait a minute, this big handbook you have, it's not even the right location." Another item that occurred was, late in the game, I had to switch my itinerary and I told them it's the only thing I want to change is my outbound. Sherry's is fine. Don't touch hers. Coming back is fine? Don't touch either. It's just me, for work purposes. I got to change my outbound and you would have thought, you know, that I was just throwing a complete entire wrench in the works like no one has ever had this happen to them in the history of vacations and vacation planning.

Gary:
I mean, they did almost everything wrong with regard to making this change. They, they touched the return. They somehow managed to have me on a separate flight than Sherry on an inter-country flight. I had been on business class on the outbound the entire way. I mean, it's always been business class on the outbound. And they put me on economy flight and they also had wrong dates. So it was… it was just a mess. And after thinking that they were gonna be able to take care of all these details, I have just spent an inordinate amount of time following up, double checking, being sure everything's right. And at the end of the day, it's left me to the point where it was like I will never book anything through their website again. Hopefully the trip itself is going to go great. I'm gonna be leaving here shortly to do it. And I still have confidence that the leaders and the guides are going to be wonderful to work with. But in terms of the actual experience of getting to this point, no. Very painful. And I doubt it will be repeated. I'll go through a travel agent or somebody else. I would've had less stress just doing it myself. I would have felt like I had more control over that than what's occurred in this situation.

Steve:
Ah, travel.

Pat:
Right. Well, this one, he hasn't even taken the trip. I think actually he's on the trip right now. So I hope it's going a lot better than the planning of it.

Steve:
Well, ironically, I'm supposed to fly out today and I got a little text message here that they canceled my flight and booked me on a later flight this afternoon,

Pat:
Wonderful.

Steve:
Which doesn't get me in there in time for the evening event. And by the way, I'd set up a conference call and I had planned to go to the destination early so I could take the conference call will now be flying during the conference call. So, you know.

Pat:
It never ends.

Steve:
It never ends.

Pat:
Well, two really funny things. I mean, none of this is really funny, but the fact that he goes into all the detail about spelling the names and they spell the first name wrong. [Laughing] And then, you know, the whole idea about, you know, they're gonna send him all this information on New Zealand and happens to be about New York, it's, you know.

Steve:
New Zealand, New York.

Pat:
I suppose they'd be next to each other alphabetically, but still.

Steve:
[Laughing]. That's right, it would be. Well, yeah. And one of the things you do is you try to hire for expertise. Right. Because, you know, you want… you sort of want a guide to take you on a journey where you're not sure exactly where you're going. And so… and I love that one saying where he said it just would have been easier if I would have just done it myself.

Pat:
Right. Right. Well, the other thing I think about in this, and, again, a lot of these get back to just having empathy for what a customer is going through. This, it's clear, you can tell from listening to him: this isn't just any old trip. This is kind of a trip of a lifetime. It's something…

Steve:
Yeah.

Pat:
…they've been planning for years. I would equate it almost to wedding planning. You know, where the bride and, you know, everybody wants every detail to go just right. And, you know, miscommunication and those sorts of things, they just give you this uneasy feeling that can ruin the whole experience.

Steve:
Yeah, and tying that back to the B2B scenario, too, I mean, one of the reasons we use the B2C is because they're so personal and you know, you really think about the things that, you know, when you spend a lot of money to have a great experience, that experience becomes very, very, very important to the customer. And, you know, we sometimes we sort of rationalize that or blow that off in B2B. But, you know, in some cases, B2B, somebody's betting their career on, on a deal or, you know, they, they have… they have made commitments to their stakeholders. So it really is… it's just as personal. But again, these these B2C examples are kind of fun because everybody can relate to 'em.

Pat:
Right. Right. But sure, you know, you think about if someone has taken a risk about hiring a particular company, be it an ad agency or, you know, whatever they have staked, you know, a good part of their value within the company on that decision. And they want to make sure that it's right.

Steve:
You bet.

Spooky Voice:
How do you like the show so far? Are you quivering in fear? Do you feel the need to frantically check your customer dashboard metrics? Making certain everything is okay? Tell us about your CX horror story and let us know how you're enjoying the show by emailing podcast@walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
All right. Well, two down, one to go?

Pat:
Ok, the last one is one that many of us have dealt with, and that's car repair. This one is about a woman coming home late from the airport. She's tired. She just wants to get home, but she gets a crack in her windshield. And, you know, dealing with the process and the things to listen for here are the miscommunications that occur. And even at the end, you'll hear some kind of rationalization on the part of the businesses that just add an extra distaste for what's going on. So let's take a listen.

Kristina:
Ok, so I was driving home from the airport at 11:30 in the evening, coming back from a work trip. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, rocks fly up and hit my windshield. Immediately I noticed my windshield was spidering. I was like, oh, my goodness. So next morning, get up and call AAA, which is our car insurance company. So they put us in touch with a collision repair shop who they recommended. And, you know, we did a lot of research into them and made sure that they did, you know, reputable work, got good recommendations. And initial interactions with them were really positive. They were very easy to work with. We did not have to take the car in to get an estimate in person. So we went into the whole situation thinking, you know, this is gonna be a great experience. The morning that we took the car in the repair was only gonna take that one day. So we didn't need a rental car or anything. So we dropped it off in the morning and they told us, you know, they would call us in the afternoon when the… when the windshield replacement and recalibration would be done. So that afternoon received the phone call that the car was ready to be picked up and so went to the shop to pick up the car.

Kristina:
And this is where everything just fell apart. When we arrived, not only was my car not ready, but it… had not been started on yet. And the people working the front desk were clearly very confused as to why we even received the phone call in the first place, letting us know the car was done, which confused us, you know. "Well, we received the phone call was wasn't it you who called us?" And so through those interactions, we found out that that company had just been acquired by another collision repair company. And it was clear that the right hand didn't know what the left was doing. Their systems weren't talking to each other, so on and so forth. And so at that point, I was like, OK, I can understand, you know, things happen. You know, we'll leave. They told us, you know, it'll be the next day. They… they apologized. So we left feeling pretty uneasy, frustrated that we weren't offered a rental car or anything for the inconvenience, but… but left and said, OK, you know, we'll get the car tomorrow. Well, about a half hour later, we received a phone call from that collision repair shop. Their, I guess it was more like a call center, a young man calling us, asking to collect payment because we had picked up the car. [Laughing]

Kristina:
You get imagine our frustration at that point, cause I then had to retell my whole story, relive the fact that, you know, no, the car is actually not even been worked on. We were there at the shop. We do not have the car in our possession. And even after retelling the whole story to this young man, he, he proceeded to say, well, my system is telling me that the car's been picked up, so I need to collect payment. So at that point, very frustrated, decided… did not pay, first of all, you know, did not give our credit card information or pay for the repair, but instead got off the phone and decided to call AAA directly to see if they could help us kind of navigate and solve the situation. So thankfully, our… our rep at AAA is, she's absolutely amazing. And she assured us that she would take care of the situation, which she did. You know, she got on the phone, she talked to everybody, assured us that everything would be taken care of and our car would be ready the next day. So still frustrated, but, you know, happy now that we've talked to somebody who understands the situation and, you know, helped us in moving forward.

Kristina:
So the next day, I again received a phone call that the car was ready – hopeful this time that it's actually ready. We go to the repair shop to pick it up. And while the car was ready, now, you know, we were… we were treated, quite honestly, very poorly by the people at the repair shop. It was very clear that in AAA, helping us resolve the situation, the repair shop had found out that, you know, we had called and complained and they actually outloud said, you know, we heard them talking and say, "oh, those are the people who called and complained to the insurance company." And so that was really disappointing and embarrassing in some ways. But it all ended up OK. And, you know, we got the car and the repair was done well. But the the whole experience in the process was really negative, and, you know, I'm not the type of person who typically goes out and, you know, actively reviews companies online or, you know, warns people to avoid certain companies. But this experience certainly pushed me to not only, you know, publicly review them, but I actively let my friends and family know, you know, if you have to have some sort of a car repair to avoid this company at all cost.

Steve:
Wow. Yeah, there's… there's so much here, but, you know, I was really struck at the end there that, you know, there, there is a cost to poor service because, you know, the classic cases: people are are much more likely to describe a poor experience than they are a good one. So, man, I felt sorry for her.

Pat:
Yeah, their were kind of two things that really stood out. The first, when the guy called requesting payment and his logic was: my system is telling me I need to collect payment even though she's told him the facts. It's an example of a process in place that is not flexible enough to deal with customers effectively. The second one is where she went in and she overheard them saying, oh, those are the people that complained. When I hear that I wonder if, you know, they're going to get a bad rating and that's going to affect them in the organization. You know how…

Steve:
Yeah.

Pat:
We've been in those situations where people say, hey, if there's any reason you can't give me a five, I need to know now because it's going to affect my bonus or whatever. And, you know, I'm wondering if that's the kind of thing that's going on. Again, an example of a process that really isn't customer focused.

Steve:
Yeah. The other thing she mentioned, too, is that the car repair company has been acquired and this is a classic case – we see this all the time – of where there's an ownership change or there's some distraction that perhaps has very little to do with how the customer is experiencing what they're trying to pay for.

Pat:
Right.

Steve:
So…

Pat:
Right.

Steve:
That's a kind of a classic case that sometimes, you know, you get a change in ownership. Something gets overlaid on the whole process that, you know, has a lot of unintended consequences.

Pat:
Right. You know, technology process systems, they're all a very important part of the customer experience. And it actually harkens me back to a recent podcast that we did with Isabelle Zdatny about the state of CX. She did a nice job about talking about digital experiences versus human to human experiences and the importance of having those solid digital experiences to expedite processes, but never leaving out the human to human piece of it.

Steve:
Yeah. Well, is there anything we can take from all three of these that CX leaders that are looking for take home value – what's the take home value from the Halloween episode?

Pat:
Well, I think there's a couple of things. One, certainly I think of empathy being one of them, that we can all get caught up in our jobs. And these are three examples where a little empathy would have gone a long way.

Steve:
Yup.

Pat:
The other is, again, just like we were talking about process and technology. You know, there needs to be room to empower employees to do the right thing for customers.

Steve:
Yeah. And the only thing I might add is even if you're in B2B, think like even your B2B customers are people. And at the end of the day, it's about taking care of the customer who is a human. Well, another successful Halloween episode is in the books.

Pat:
We got through another one, maybe we can move on to more pleasant things next week.

Steve:
Yeah. Well, we both really want to thank Diane, Gary and Christina for telling their stories for us. It's never easy being on the bad end of poor customer experience. And while we had fun in the show. it's an important reminder that poor customer experiences can affect people's lives. It's one of the reasons we do the show: to help CX leaders recognize and avoid situations like the ones we heard today and deliver the best possible experiences for their customers.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything you heard on this episode or about how Walker can help your business's customer experience, feel free to email me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or give me a call here in the U.S. at +1-317-843-8890. Don't forget to subscribe to The CX Leader Podcast. You can go to walkerinfo.com/podcasts and you'll find links to iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, and we're on our own YouTube channel now at walkerinfo.tv. Thank you for listening to The CX Leader Podcast, which is a production of Walker. We're an experienced management firm that helps our clients gain a competitive advantage by accelerating their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com. Thanks again for listening to our special Halloween episode and we will see you again next week.

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