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Negative Customer Service Stories That Went Viral...

June 20th 2017

And How to Make Your Customer Experience #FailFree

Takeaway meal looks like a train-wreck? Late bus service again? Re-occurring billing mistake? No worries, post it on social media!

Research1 shows that there’s been an eight-fold increase in customer complaints on social media since January 2014.

The problem for companies is: unwelcome news travels fast. If a customer’s story gains traction – eliciting numerous likes, shares and re-tweets – there is every chance it will ping-pong from social media into the pages of the national press. 

We've highlighted three customer service stories that have hit the headlines and what your company can do to become a Customer Service #FailFree zone.

Florist delivery fail - Customer service researchOnline flower supplier’s limp efforts go viral: Dozens of customers took to social media earlier this year to complain about their Mother’s Day bouquets from a well-known online flower supplier.

Annoyed customers posted a range of photos and complaints, including that their flowers did not arrive on time, looked vastly different from the products advertised, or arrived limp and wilted. Other customers stated they received the wrong cards featuring photos of someone else’s child. To add insult to injury, the company had already apologised to over 100 customers for similar issues the previous year.

Coffee shop fail - Customer service researchCoffee retailer’s cup naming shame: Personalising your customer experience can pay huge dividends, from brand differentiation to making customers feel valued. So much so, that one global coffee retailer has made personalisation the cornerstone of their marketing strategy by having Baristas write your name on your disposable cup.

The initiative has spawned a barrage of updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of customers’ misspelled names, including ‘Cass’ written as ‘Cats’, ‘Karen’ as ‘Carrot’ and ‘Erin’ as ‘Air-inn’. Whilst most find the misspellings humorous – it’s even suggested it’s done on purpose to generate publicity - others have found themselves on the receiving end of baristas’ insults, including a cup labelled ‘Diabetes here I come’, and names translated into inappropriate words. Here’s a hint: ‘Virginia’. Genius media strategy or customer service fail, social media and press alike continue to relish in this coffee chain’s frothy fails.

Mobile operator fail - Customer service researchMobile network’s computer says no: While a handful of negative tweets can cause ripples, a national media campaign focussing on an organisation’s consistent customer failings can open the floodgates for complaints.    

Having received numerous grievances from mobile phone customers seeking advice, a national newspaper ran a high-profile campaign detailing customers’ problems. The newspaper featured stories from customers being out of pocket due to billing mistakes, to those who were left hanging on the phone and then cut off for no reason. As a result, the mobile network was investigated and fined £4.6million by Ofcom for ‘serious and sustained’ customer failings.

How to Avoid Customer Service Fails with Customer Satisfaction Research

So how do you prevent your organisation’s customer service from becoming tomorrow’s trending news? The truth is you can’t always avoid slip-ups, especially due to one-off human error, but you can hone consistently excellent customer experience with holistic customer research.

TTi Global Research’s Customer Experience Quality Analysis (CEQA) framework is a new, cutting-edge breed of customer satisfaction research.

Unlike many standard customer satisfaction surveys which aren’t adapted to reflect the true nature of a company’s customer experience - resulting in tired, valueless data - CEQA is tailored to match an organisation’s products and services, market position, culture and values, providing detail-rich, accurate insight about what customers want.

This forensic level of understanding allows businesses to make changes that have real, measurable impact on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Additional advantages of CEQA include:

  • Complete understanding of customer requirements across multiple customer service channels
  • Clear insight to your customer expectations and how they measure against customer expectations of your closest competitors
  • Signposts showing where your customer service function performs well and areas or processes that need attention
  • Precise insight to where and why service delivery inconsistencies occur, for example, insufficient frontline staff training, offering solutions that don’t fit customer’s needs, inadequate technology or out-of-date consumer management strategy 
  • Understanding of your customers’ priorities now and how will they change in the future, such as implementing more self-service technology, getting better value for money etc.
  • CEQA is a scalable solution that delivers results for large multiple-site organisations as much as small local businesses. 

Find out more about CEQA

Ready to Upgrade Your Customer Experience?

We've helped transform customer service for a diverse range of organisations, including Balfour Beatty, Skanska and M3 Europe. To start creating your #FailFree customer service, call us on 01753 214000 or email your questions here.


Institute of Customer Service, Customer Complaints see eight-fold rise on Social Media, 27 July 2015 

Image of coffee-shop fail courtesy of Flickr user AllAboutGeorge.