Customer Experience Failures Are No Laughing Matter

I have the ability to think of funny memories and laugh to myself.  The one problem with that is that I get disturbed looks from people around me who are wondering what in the world I’m laughing about.  The other day I was in a meeting and was reminded of the fact that in customer service, you can be ready for anything and still find yourself caught off guard.

Several years ago we had a customer call us to tell us she was offended by the captcha on our website.  You know those images where you see a series of characters in a weird font and you have to type them into a text box in order to proceed?  Anyway, this woman called to let us know that the captcha on our website had called her a “whore.”

My reaction was a mixture of “what a terrible word to call someone” and “wow, that’s hilarious that our system did that.”  At the time, we learned that when a captcha is implemented on a website, you can filter out words in the dictionary that you do not want to display.  We had successfully filtered out all of the obvious ones but missed that one.  There are a few things I think we can learn from this story:

1. Keep Improving– Your customer experience will never be perfect.  There will always be room for improvement and even times where your systems offend customers.  It’s impossible to account for every scenario but it is possible to improve from every situation.

2. Keep Adapting– Just when you have customer service figured out, you have to adapt.  It won’t happen every day, week or even month but at some point a customer will hit you with something new.  The way you respond makes all of the difference.

3. Keep Learning– If you learn nothing else from this post, go make sure your captcha on your webpage isn’t calling your customers names.  Learn from our mistake!

Have you been witness to a customer experience fail in your organization?  How did your company respond?  If your company responded favorably, then perhaps you are able to look back and laugh about it now.  If they did not respond well, chances are you aren’t laughing and neither are your customers.


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