I ordered new products and services from my provider last month and in the bargain had to endure some terrible, horrible, no good, very bad customer experience.

Here’s what happened.

Mistreat Loyal Customers

After a number of years of just slogging along with my internet, mobile and entertainment services, I decided to upgrade. It turned out to be a difficult process that tested every aspect of my provider’s ordering, billing and customer service processes and policies.

It all started with an email from my provider letting me know that my current package had expired and inviting me to explore new package options. I clicked through the email to the web and saw that the packages looked interesting. But I wanted to see if I could do better. That same provider was advertising much lower package prices for new customers. I called the customer service line.

The customer service agent tried to be helpful. He could see all my current account information and all the options for me that I could see on the website. It was a good sign that the contact center had integrated customer-centric views. And he could see the packages that matched exactly to my profile but had much lower prices. However, he could not apply those options to my account. Why not? They were reserved for new customers, and the system rejected the options when he tried to add them to my account.

The good news was that he could give me a customer loyalty discount for a higher level of internet access — a level I didn’t need. He could also offer discounted premium TV channels that I didn’t want. All of this for agreeing to be locked into the service for another two years. He highly recommended I do this because he could see on my account that my current charges would be going up soon if I didn’t recommit. Sigh.

So I committed for another two years. The details would only embarrass you and me; and I won’t divulge how many new premium channels I now have.

No Good Customer Experience Tip 1: Never give loyal customers the same good deal as new customers. Twist the knife by periodically raising prices on your loyal customers and pushing them to buy more to get a “good deal.”

Related Article: Employees Can Make or Break Your Customer Experiences

Remember to Sneer a Little

Now I needed to pick up the new set-top boxes required for the upgrade I had ordered.

The actual process of picking up the boxes went pretty smoothly. I gave them my order number at the store and was rewarded with the new boxes, connectors and remotes. It was good omnichannel service that did reflect that they had integrated data and account access across channels.

They also had set up good security checks. They asked for my service PIN before releasing the boxes to my custody. Of course, when I couldn’t remember my PIN, I was treated with amused disdain by the store agent, who said “Well, what could it be? Come on, it’s only four digits.”

“It’s on,” I thought. I internally sorted through many possible scathing and sarcastic responses, but in the end I took the high road. We quickly went to an alternate form of security, using my account email address to send and confirm a one-time code.

No Good Customer Experience Tip 2: Be sure to make fun of your customer. It can make a difficult interaction worse and, more importantly, also ruin an otherwise positive experience.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: With Customer Experience, Time Is Money

Skip Important Steps

At home once again, I installed the boxes, but to no avail. I could not get them to work — no service. I checked the installation carefully but could not find anything amiss. I was going to need help to figure this out.

I called customer support and waited on hold for 30 minutes.

While I was on hold, I was entertained with advertisements for more services — ads that I had to listen to while fuming about the services they sold me that did not work. This was interspersed with helpful messages like “Thank you for your patience, please visit XYZ for a fast way to pay your bill.”

When the support representative finally answered, she was polite, empathetic and helpful, talking me through the entire installation process to check every step — over and over, in excruciating detail. After an hour, however, she could still detect nothing amiss beyond the fact that my system didn’t work. So we scheduled an in-home service visit for the following day.

The tech came on time and was polite and efficient. He checked and confirmed that my installation was all good. He then entered the box serial numbers into his diagnostic tablet (nice!), smiled and said, “Your installation was perfect, they never provisioned your new boxes. It must have looked like they did to the contact center agent, but I can see they didn’t. You are all set now.”

No Good Customer Experience Tip 3: Neglect to integrate your ordering and provisioning systems. And if you eventually do that, never ever make the combined information visible to your contact center customer support representatives.

Related Article: How Good Customer Experience Can Turn Bad, In the Swipe of a Credit Card

Nothing Is Going to Get Better, It’s Not

My recent experience uncovered some things that my provider has done to improve how it treats its customers. But it also revealed some very bad systems, processes and policies that have yet to be addressed. As I finish writing this article, watching one of my new premium channels, I can’t help but reflect on my own duplicitous behavior. That behavior inspired my final tip; you should ignore it if you want to be part of the change that brings about better customer experience.

No Good Customer Experience Tip 4: As a loyal customer, accept bad service, impolite behavior and deals you don’t really want. Do not push back or make your requirements clear, and never just walk away.

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