Despite the experience and education of some veteran marketers as well as some careful planning there are times that customer experience initiatives and implementations go awry.

Below are four examples marketing practitioners offered of CX failures, including a couple from their own companies.

1. Lack of Resources Means Unfulfilled Promises

“The delays in airline travel specifically come to mind when I consider recent examples of missed CX opportunities,” said Gregory Ng, CEO of Brooks Bell, pointing to American Airlines announcing an ambitious flying schedule for this summer, had to cancel about 950 flights between mid-June and the end of July because it didn’t have enough pilots to handle the flights. American had furloughed 1,600 pilots in the late fall of 2020, and couldn’t convince enough to return to their jobs.

The messaging on the cancellations was also handled poorly, according to Ng. “The airline neglected to communicate with their customers in a way that would avoid the backlash many airlines are currently facing. Coupled with a packed schedule, they then over-promised and under-delivered.”

“It makes sense to see the shifts in operations and logistics due to the pandemic, but brands need to acknowledge it's not 'business as usual' as they prepare customers for upcoming travel. Clear, personalized messaging is key — you don't want to punish your early adopters, you want to supercharge them,” said Ng

Related Article: How to Communicate Bad News to Customers

2. Lack of Implementation Knowledge

“It’s amazing how often companies go off the rails with customer experience. It happens across the board, from the smallest businesses to the biggest companies,” said Ali Cudby, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Purdue University and managing director of Alignmint Growth Strategies.

Cudby pointed to the example of a Fortune 500 company, a former employer, needing a legally mandated technology solution to support a business-critical process. Getting it wrong could expose the company to financial risks that could cost billions of dollars. The firm had already had three expensive failures in attempting to implement such a solution.

So the company spent 18 months vetting a fourth vendor and picked a product that seemed to be the right match, Cudby said. “Contracts were signed, but when the implantation team arrived, it [was] immediately obvious that the people had little knowledge of the requirements, less understanding of what had been promised, and no plan to deliver this solution they absolutely had to get right. Not only was it a huge let-down for the company’s team, but it destroyed trust. They got through the engagement, but the relationship was at risk the entire time.”

However, missing the deadline meant having to pay millions in specialized support; and the company didn’t complete the job, leaving the company exposed to potential litigation, according to Cudby. The exposure was eliminated, but it took a long time and meant employees had to work hard to solve the problem the vendor was supposed to solve. “The CX lesson here is the same whether the sale is eight-figures or eight dollars,” Cudby added. “Companies need solid, repeatable processes to transfer knowledge from sales to the customer-implementation teams. These processes must be baked into company expectations and knit into the culture. Get those processes right and you launch your client relationships with trust and a foundation for growth. Get them wrong and you risk the revenue, the relationship and the opportunity for future referrals.”

Learning Opportunities

3. Failed Promises Contribute to Company Failure

MoviePass was a monthly subscription service that allowed clients to attend one movie every day for $10. A great deal for subscribers – initially. But the company, which launched in 2011, changed its terms often due to unexpected high demand, higher than expected costs and a river of red ink that led to its final collapse in 2019.

Among the 1500 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau during the company’s relatively short history was one from a California woman who said MoviePass cancelled her account without warning due to an alleged “violation of terms and agreements after searching for an apparently secret customer support number. This consumer had gone to attend a ‘premium movie,’ which was against the membership policy and resulted in the cancellation of the subscription without a refund.

“This is an excellent example of placing the success of the firm ahead of the success of the consumer,” said Alec Pow, CEO at The Pricer. “When people signed up for MoviePass, the company should have made its policies clear and provided tools that explain what constitutes a ‘premium movie.’ If customers were still infringing the rules, MoviePass's customer service team should have contacted them directly to let them know. Rather than simply closing the accounts, they might have clarified their policies and retained the customer's long-term business.

4. Failure To Emphasize Customer Service Training

Any company may be proud of its committed support crew, said Alex Claro, VPN analyst at CreditDonkey. “The worst customer service examples may be created by not having a skilled crew. And this is exactly what happened to my company. My company was missing out on this aspect because it was unable to provide proactive help, resulting in the loss of loyal consumers, a deterioration in brand reputation, and an increase in customer complaints. This emphasizes the importance of having a skilled and capable support team.

As a result, when recruiting new customer service agents Claro started:

  • Making new hires aware of the significance of providing excellent customer service.
  • Clarifying goals during customer service training. “When you communicate the goals to your team in a clear and concise manner, they will give it their all to satisfy the requirements and expectations of your customers,” he said.

Additionally, the company started training all staff on products and etiquette training and ensuring support staff was informed about any issues and solutions.