22 May 2017

How Bad Can a Bad Customer Experience Set You Back?

You obviously know that providing a great experience is becoming the market battle as we move into the future. It can be the differentiator, with many executives stating it has more impact on revenue than the product itself.

Bad-social-commentsIn fact, in a recent survey conducted by Walker, top B2B executives stated that by 2020, customer experience will be more important than their products or their price. In fact, 32% more than products.

Attracting new customers is important for any business looking to grow. But keeping your existing customers happy is even more important. Happy customers are the ones who will keep coming back to your business and who will become an advocate in today’s world of viral and social marketing. And, by the way, it also happens to be 6-7 times as expensive to get brand new customers than it is to keep your current customer base happy.

Things will happen that can cause a customer to have a bad experience, and the truth is that no matter how hard you try there are some people who will just never be happy. But sometimes that bad experience – and having the means to mitigate it – can cause a significant and unexpected setback.

Be Prepared to Recover. Quickly

Smack talk travels fast.

The setback ultimately comes from the unfortunate reality that news of a bad experience is likely to reach twice as many people as is praise for your business. People are simply more likely to be vocal about their experience if it was bad, while good experiences are shared less often. Good experiences are expected.  

95% of bad experiences will be broadcast compared to just 87% for good experiences. If you have enough good reviews and other positive buzz about your business that can be easily found online, your reputation is less likely to take a hit. However, no company is immune to bad reviews, and they can drastically set you back in having to take measures to protect your reputation.


It’s much harder to make up for a bad experience that customer feels is unresolved than it is take preventative steps that keep customers returning in the first place.

If you want to capture the relatively slim 28% of customers who are still willing to return to a business after having a bad customer experience, Ruby Newell-Legner’s “Understanding Customers” reports that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience that a customer feels went unresolved. If getting that unhappy customer to return just once is a challenge, ensuring that they have 12 more positive experiences seems nearly impossible.

However, the keyword here is “unresolved”. Customers whose problems weren’t resolved are going to be much harder to retain. But you can get ahead of the game by ensuring you’re building in the capabilities to provide customers personalized experiences. And by making sure when they do voice concern, that you have the means (technology / people) to ensure you do resolve the issue, quickly.  


What You Can Do to Address Bad Experiences and Prevent Them From Happening Again

Address negative reviews and feedback, public and private, instead of ignoring it.

When replying to bad reviews and angry social media exchanges, be calm and diplomatic. Apologize to the customer for having a poor experience, offer solutions to the customer’s problem, and ask what you can do to improve their experience. This feedback is not only incredibly valuable for figuring out how to address shortfalls in your customer experience, but it also helps the customer feel that you are making a genuine effort to listen and resolve their issues.

This is an opportunity to show that you go the extra mile to ensure every customer has a fantastic experience. And people will be more likely to vocalize a fantastic experience than just a great one.

To do this, you need to make sure you have the capabilities built into your CRM and contact center systems to not only monitor feedback on social media, but also quickly address them, gather feedback, and incorporate that feedback back into the enterprise. This can give you a more holistic view of each customer and allow you to deliver more personalized experiences.


Support your contact center agents with the resources they need.

If your customer support/service/call center agents can’t get the right information or are working with outdated systems, they can’t properly address issues for customers. Agents need to be able to know what’s going on with the customer before they are connected. Capabilities such as ‘screen pops’ (the method of delivering customer information to an agent’s computer screen before they talk with the customer) or intelligent routing through your IVR systems will help them resolve issues quicker and more effectively, and make them more satisfied employees in the process.


Pay attention to what your customers are saying when it comes to your site’s usability, store layout, product offerings, customer service quality, and other aspects of your business that you have the power to change.

77% of customers also reported that they wished they were more ways to get in touch with customer service representatives aside from what is presented. For instance, resolving issues by text has become increasingly popular since email can have a long response time, waiting to talk to a representative by phone can be frustrating, and social media interactions have limitations. By implementing the right omni-channel infrastructure, or integrating your current customer support channels, it offers more options for both your customers and support agents to solve problems more efficiently.

The infrastructure of your business – shopping carts, telephony, accounting back-end, customer service, and so much more – can form the cornerstone of a stellar customer experience, or unintentionally create some gaps and dark patterns in user experience that inconveniences your customers. By monitoring your business systems then paying attention to what your customers are saying about it, your operations can become more efficient.



Listen to your customers and give them what they want.

One of the foremost things in improving customer experience is simply giving them what they want– especially after they’ve been asked or volunteered this information themselves. This could be as simple as allowing them to select the channel they prefer to communicate through (email, phone, text, etc.), and providing that with every interaction.

You can also have a third party assessment to see how you can integrate your current systems and collect the customer data you need. This allows you to step further into the world of “Big Data”, consolidating your customer data so that you get one view of each customer, allowing you to consistently serve them on a personalized level. This also lets the business see buying and behavior patterns that will help you upsell and cross-sell to continue to find new revenue opportunities.

Assess, Change, and Deliver

Negative experiences can set your business back significantly. Make sure that you are prepared to not only diffuse and mitigate these situations, but also be willing to monitor and change the aspects of your business that are causing customers to have bad experiences.

Stay Positive. Learn More:

Know your customer. We can help. Check out how the right strategy moving forward can help eliminate those bad experiences and simply enchant your customers.

Authored bY

Mark Pendolino

Mark Pendolino is the Director of Marketing at PTP, overseeing the creation of customer experience content focused on helping organizations discover best practices for evolving the customer journey. Prior to PTP, Mark managed teams for companies such as Microsoft, Smartsheet, Fujitsu, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. Mark holds a master’s in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, and a bachelor’s in Technical Communications from Metropolitan State University of Denver. In his downtime, Mark likes to thrash a bit on the drumkit and pretend he’s a rock star.


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