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Bad Customer Experience – The Reason Why It Is Poorer Than You Think

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Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

I keep talking about customer experience and how you can enhance them. In this context, I recently spoke about ‘Democratization of Intelligence for BPOs,’ and it got published as a blog here. I also spoke about ‘The value of human voice – an intelligence perspective’ at the recently held Voice Tech Summit.

As a part of these events, I get to talk to several customer experience professionals. The common thread that I hear from all of them are:

  • We delight our customers with the experience that we provide
  • We care about our customers
  • We want to better understand who they are and anticipate their needs
  • We have put systems in place to understand their stated and unstated needs

These are good intentions, and no organization wants to provide poor experiences. Despite these intentions, organizations consistently deliver poor and unsatisfactory experiences.

I always believe in collecting stories about good and poor experiences as they would allow you to see the entirety of the experience.

Here, I will narrate a poor experience that a colleague of mine encountered. I am going to do that in the first person for better understanding.

Poor customer experience – Example

I was shifting my house within the same building from one block to another. I asked for my Internet connectivity to be moved to the new place. I was told that it would be done in two days, and we fixed up the date and time for the technician to visit and make the shift.

On the agreed date, no one turned up. So, I called up their customer care, and after about 20 minutes, I was told that someone would give me a call and visit the next day.

On the next day, someone did give me a call, and he came for a survey of the new location to see if there was feasibility for the connection to be moved. He said that it is not feasible currently as they don’t have free lines on their board, and they will have to add slots before the connection can be activated.

He spoke to the backend and assured me that their technicians would add additional slots to the board within 24 hours. Also, I should have my Internet up and running within 48 hours.

I waited another 48 hours, and nothing was forthcoming. So, I again called up their customer care, and they had no clue what was happening. I explained everything that happened to them, and they assured me that something would be done about my Internet within the next 4 hours.

I waited, and a day passed by, and I was frustrated with the experience. So, I decided to switch the Internet service provider, and I asked for the disconnection of my service from my existing provider. They took the disconnection request and gave me a reference number.

Trust me, the disconnection request was the best experience that I had with them.

Stop. The story doesn’t end here.

I received a call from their disconnection team within 10 minutes of logging my disconnection request. Suddenly, they realized that I had been a loyal customer of theirs for 15 long years, and they didn’t want to let me go. They promised that I would have my connection up and running within 2 hours, and they threw two months of free Internet to stop me from going.

Voila, the connection was up within 40 minutes, and I continued to use them.

What has gone wrong with this experience?

I am sure that the organization did not set out to provide this experience to its customers. Despite their intentions, this keeps repeating itself.

Reasons for Bad Customer Experience

There are several reasons, and the crux of them is data.

Companies don’t have a single view of customers, and everything remains in silos. I cannot believe that everyone I spoke to at customer care, the engineer who visited my premise, is all incompetent. It is just that they did not have the necessary information to act on or work with.

Few things that people did not have include:

  1. The engineer with the address should have known that it is feasible to provide Internet connectivity at my location. He should have further known that there were no slots available in the box near that address, and they needed to add additional slots.
  2. Customer care should have known that the engineer has already raised a request for additional slots at the backend. They also should be able to figure out the status of that request.
  3. The organization, on the whole, should know the fact that I have been a loyal customer of theirs for more than 15 years. Their response to me should be at a level where they err in my favor.

The best part of the story was that the disconnection team was empowered to make decisions and prevent me from moving to another provider. They went ahead and loaded some free services to retain me. They certainly had access to necessary information about me as a customer to intervene. They don’t have to do this firefighting if their customer experience is better than what they provide today.

In essence, you need to capture and leverage the data from all sources into a single view to provide the best possible experience to your customers.


About the Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan


Uthaman believes in the power of creation - it gives him a high to grow something from scratch and make it sustainable. Uthaman is the Executive Vice President and helps set the strategic direction and roadmap for ClearTouch, a pioneering provider of a cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs, and financial services companies in India.