Service With a Smile and a Joke: The Art of Hilarious Customer Experiences
I gave a speech at a management association gathering where I spoke about the difference between Truth and a Story. I felt happy giving that speech and interacting with the audience after the speech. During the interaction, one of the ladies in the audience came up to me and asked, “Why were you comparing Ruth with a story?”
I didn’t stress the consonant ‘T’ while speaking. So, she heard Truth as Ruth. If this was the plight of the live audience, imagine the plight of voice recognition systems in getting it right.
Obviously, you’d receive bizarre responses.
Here is another instance that I wanted to share.
I recently ordered a cookie box from a bakery. Instead of one cookie box, they sent me five boxes of cookies I did not order.
So, I sent them a chat stating they should send me a box of cookies I ordered and pick up these five boxes I did not ask for.
I received an apology, the box of cookies I ordered, and a funny meme about “cookie abundance,” asking me to keep those five boxes as a part of cookie abundance.
I remembered one more instance worth sharing.
We sent a few campaign emails to a list in one of my previous jobs. The mail was addressed thus, “Dear Mr. Fasbender,” and the prospect’s name was Art Fasbender.
We received a response from the prospect stating, “I don’t want to receive campaign emails from automated systems, and no real human being addresses him as Dear Mr. Fasbender.”
It was a goof-up from our side, and it was not an automated message either. However, we took it on our chin and responded with a quirky apology, promising to “reprogram the robots.”
Needless to say, we started conversing with him.
Humor can be a powerful tool to diffuse tension and build rapport. However, you have to ensure that the humor aligns with the severity of the situation and the ultimate goal is a positive customer experience.
Here are some real-life goof-ups that some of the best brands have made and the learnings we can get from them in the customer experience context.
1. United Breaks Guitars
In 2009, musician Dave Carroll’s guitar was damaged during a United Airlines flight.
When his complaints were ignored, he created a music video, “United Breaks Guitars,” which went viral, causing a significant PR issue for the airline. This is the beginning of the era of social media’s influence on customer perception.
Respond promptly to customer complaints, especially those with creative outreach, to prevent negative public attention.
2. Netflix’s Qwikster Fiasco
In 2011, Netflix separated its DVD-by-mail service into a new brand called Qwikster.
The move was met with widespread criticism, leading to confusion and a significant loss of subscribers.
Service changes should be communicated clearly, considering customer expectations and preferences.
3. Apple’s Maps Mishap
In 2012, Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app on iOS, leading to inaccuracies and usability issues. Users reported getting lost or finding incorrect information.
This emphasizes the significance of user experience, even for a user experience giant like Apple.
Thoroughly test and ensure the quality of new features before rolling them out to avoid negative user experiences.
4. Wells Fargo’s Unauthorized Accounts
In 2016, Wells Fargo faced a scandal when it was revealed that employees had opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit accounts to meet sales targets.
The controversy damaged the bank’s reputation and led to legal consequences. Unethical behavior can erode customer trust, emphasizing the importance of maintaining integrity in financial services.
Prioritize ethical practices in business operations to avoid severe repercussions and maintain customer trust.
5. KFC’s Chicken Crisis
In 2018, KFC in the UK faced a chicken shortage due to issues with a new delivery provider.
Hundreds of stores had to close temporarily, leading to disappointed customers and a hit to the customer experience and the brand’s reputation.
Maintain robust supply chain management to prevent disruptions that can affect product availability.
In the realm of customer experience, these real-life examples serve as cautionary tales and valuable lessons for businesses. It incorporates elements like communication, usability, ethical practices, and supply chain management to ensure exceptional customer experiences.