Poor customer centricity shows up glaringly at customer touch-points and is easy to spot and explain. But, sometimes, unfortunately, it can get phenomenally bad. As a customer, we have all had those times when a particular experience has been so singularly and unbelievably bad, that it was hard to even just comprehend why it had to be so.
There are some experiences I have been through myself that have been so rotten. I have wondered if the company in question actually had a designated committee, incentivized by special bonuses and benefits thrown in, to think up rotten experiences for the customer. Somewhere in this world there must be a top world class standard for rottenness, so you even wonder if they hand-picked brilliant candidates with stellar track records in flustering customers, pushing up their blood pressure with aplomb and giving them more lines on the forehead.
I was in the middle of booking a ticket recently and noticed that I had to update my profile. ‘Agitated’, to put it mildly, was somewhat the frame of my mind when I encountered a screen repeatedly that said
"Sorry. Updating Profile is not allowed between 9 am to 11 am"
It is not important who this company is, but you do find this strange, don't you? Surely a poor policy, whatever the reason. If there indeed was a good reason (volumes of visitors, etc.), it does well to explain that to your customer, who will appreciate it, and will in fact cooperate by coming back later at a more appropriate time.
But here is the thing - when such events happen and when your customer gets that moment thrown at him, you must recognize that it is a very significant event in your relationship with that customer. Because in those few moments of comprehending a bad experience and weighing the alternate options for, say, booking a ticket in this case, the customer invariably steps back and objectively evaluates his relationship with you, perhaps even reassessing his loyalty to you (if you were lucky to have been enjoying it so far, that is).
A good customer engagement strategy must therefore focus on seeking and eliminating every possibility of such a provocation. Customer journeys need to be meticulously analyzed to seek such danger spots first and re-plotted to eliminate them.
Remember, when that rotten moment does hit your customer, his mind races with all those other options available to him and is filled with indignation; there is a lot of emotion. Ergo, a lot of irrationality. He is not going to be fair in judging you and you won't be there listening to his thoughts. You won't have the chance to explain or defend yourself or apologize or promise never to repeat your follies.
It will most certainly not be fair for you. And with my recent indignation as a customer, I might add, that you aren’t entitled to 'fairness' if you aren't thinking of your customer as seriously as you should. Fix that, and I am guessing you have a better chance of winning hearts. Those hearts are likely to be fickle, and you may even have a chance they might get loyal to you. For a while at least, but you have to keep working to make them stick.
But don't expect fairness. Deal with that.