Customer Service Software

Funny and Frustrating Customer Service Incidences Faced by Top Brands

Funny and Frustrating Customer Service Incidences Faced by Top Brands

What makes companies tick? Well, having a good product is definitely a start. Giving customers something unique, which they cannot get anywhere else, is surely better. However, a quality product backed up with great service may just be the thing that may do the job. Many businesses miss a trick by not focussing on service after-sales. As we near the end of a remarkable decade and step into 2020, it is imperative that companies realize that customer satisfaction ranks well and above their product.

Consumers are more aware, in general, than they used to be, say, 10 years ago. Brands cannot get away with negligence or poor service anymore. Users tend to take their grievances to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and make their annoyance very obvious. It is only a matter of hours before such posts go viral. To avoid a PR nightmare, it is in the companies’ best interests that they deal with dissatisfied customers right away.

 It is best to learn from the mistakes of others. Rather than try something fancy, companies can stick to the basics and give the customers what they want. Getting frequent feedback from consumers by engaging with them on a regular basis via social media platforms is the best way to stay updated and also gives businesses the chance to deliver their best.

Here are 5 instances where customer service took a backseat, and companies adversely affected their brand’s reputation.

1. The Bizarre Solution Offered to a Customer by a Leading Hotel Chain in India

 This is one for the ages. An Indian couple who had booked a lovely weekend vacation is the wondrous island of Andaman were greeted to a rude awakening by the hotelier. The leading hotel chain in question had partnered with this particular hotel. However, the hotelier’s concerns over clarity of payments and transactions were left unanswered for over a month. So, the guests were refused entry if bookings were made using the hotel chain’s channel.            

This particular couple arguably suffered more than the others. What meant to be a joyous occasion of their first anniversary, turned out to be the most forgettable day of their lives? After being denied entry despite having made the booking months before, they immediately contacted the customer support team of the hotel chain. The support team was apologetic and immediately prepared an alternative accommodation plan for the couple. They assigned the closest hotel room with an upgrade to ensure the guests deserved it for all the inconvenience that they had faced. The only trouble was that the nearest booking that was allotted was about 800 miles from the current location– in Kolkata, West Bengal, far far away from Andaman Island.           

 Not only did they fail to solve the couple’s problem, but they also opened themselves up to much ridicule and a barrage of laughs online. It was clearly met with much outrage and hilarity by people who got the news. The fault lies in the blind trust the hotel chain placed on its helpdesk support system. Depending on a system that thinks like a machine does not work in all situations. A lesson learned the hard way. The brand took a blow unforeseen by their management. 

Funny - 7/10 - A laughable alternative option.

Frustrating - 9/10 - A major inconvenience that the couple did not expect.

2. Construction on Norwegian Cruise Leaves Customers Annoyed

 A Norwegian cruise company, well renowned for hosting fortnight-long parties in the middle of the ocean on their cruise, let a mishap ruin their brand value. About 2000 passengers were not notified about the construction that would go on simultaneously during the 14-day cruise. The whole experience of the cruise was masked by unnecessary, disturbing construction work. The swimming pool was also closed off to accommodate the work in a certain area of the ship. Clearly unhappy with being stuck on a ship with the constant drilling noise and other equipment going off, the passengers confronted the authorities on the ship. 

 The real shock was when their complaints were utterly disregarded by the captain and other officials. Many passengers also experienced breathing difficulties and had to get urgent medical aid on the ship, for which they were separately charged. After suffering the same fate for 2 weeks on the cruise, the customers received a company-issued statement with a half-hearted apology and a 25% waiver on future cruises for all the passengers. The customers went on a rampage and made life difficult for the cruise line by bombarding them with online comments. Finally, a refund for the cruise was initiated by the company, and also offered another free cruise to the passengers, but the damage had already been done.

 The takeaway for the cruise line here is to focus on proper communication with customers in the future. Minor inconveniences are usually tolerated, but something as big as actual construction work during the cruise trip is not something that passengers would take sitting down. The Norwegian cruise company could do with better media planning and effective online reputation management.

Funny - 0/10 - Not funny at all.

Frustrating - 10/10 - The passengers had their vacation ruined.

3. E-commerce Giant’s Huge Gaffes with Shipping Charges

 A lady in Nashville, Tennessee, ordered a bunch of paper plates online for the amount of $24. However, since the order was processed by a third-party supplier, she was charged over $1000 for shipping alone. After learning that her credit card statement showed a debit of $1000+, she contacted the e-commerce company to seek an explanation as to why paper plates were costing her a fortune. The issue was dismissed, stating that she was rightly charged because third-party retailers owned the right to charge their fee as per their convenience. She escalated the issue several times before the issue was resolved, and the order was cancelled. It took weeks before she got her full refund.

Funny - 8/10 - Hilarious disparity between product and shipping prices.

Frustrating - 8/10 - An annoying experience nevertheless.

           In a similar incident from Atlanta, with the same e-commerce company, a woman was charged close to $7500 dollars in shipping for $88 worth of toilet paper. She expected the company to rectify this absurd issue at once. But she was in for a shock when the customer support official told her that they could not help her because again, a third-party seller was involved. More than 2 months of constant complaints on Twitter and countless calls made to the support team. She got her refund handed to her.

Funny - 3/10 - Too big of an amount to find this funny.

Frustrating - 9/10 - The whole experience would have been sour for the buyer.

           What this particular e-commerce giant need is better partnerships in place with their online channel partners and third-party sellers. Letting the customers suffer because of gross negligence can surely cause customers to lash out angry statements via social media. The reputation of such a huge brand can take a hit if they cannot put their whole weight behind remedying such blatant mistakes. They need a system that can cross-check and verify questionable transactions and move such orders through an approval metric. Then and only then can they claim to be a global level e-commerce retailer.

4. The British Airline that Followed Obsolete Methods of Service

 Recollecting an incident that took place a few years ago in Britain. One of the chief airlines in Britain made blunder after blunder when dealing with an unhappy customer. It all began when one individual wrote to the airline’s Twitter handle, asking them about his father’s misplaced luggage. The interesting thing was that the man took the course of paid advertising by promoting his Tweet. 

 The airline’s first mistake was to take more than 8 hours to respond to him. This is a serious faux pas, considering that it was a promoted Tweet, and more than 75000 persons had already seen the post before it was addressed. In this day-and-age, where technical ineptitude in not an excuse, their casual approach towards responding to an online complaint was the first set back. 

 Their response was what took the cake, however. The support team Tweeted back, saying that the customer needed to contact them between 9 AM and 5 PM GMT to get a resolution. This agitated the complainant, and he rightfully asked them why flight service is 24 hours and yet support to customers is provided only during regular office hours. After many frustrating hours, the issue was resolved, much to the relief of the pursuant. 

 The airline surely operated with old methods in the modern world. Suggesting that they could only help a customer during business hours does not fly. Customers are right to expect 24/7 service all-round the year. The airline needs a platform with a Chabot that can respond immediately to queries from all different channels so that no customer feels neglected.

Funny - 5/10 - Given how ridiculous the company came out looking.

Frustrating - 9/10 - Nobody wants to wait so long to claim their luggage.

5. French Telecom Bills Women €12 Quadrillion

This incident makes a list because of the sheer preposterous element that it brings. A woman in France was charged 11,721,000,000,000,000 Euros, which is almost 6000 times the country’s GDP. The woman was no wonder, shocked at the nonsensical amount that she was expected to pay and contacted the phone company to clear up this obvious error on their part.

The biggest jolt she received was when the company’s customer support agent responded to her saying she could pay the bill “in instalments”. When word got out about such an exchange in dialogue between company and customer, there was a huge uproar. The company swiftly correctly saw its erroneous solution and sent her an updated bill, which was €117. The amount reflected wrongly because of a printing error, they claimed.

 Even though this was about 8 years ago, the telecom company should have invested in an effectual system that provides alerts when anomalies prop up. The customer service agents surely were doing things by the books, but nothing is set in stone. For special circumstances, higher management has to intervene and resolve the issue using manual override. A knowledge management portal would have helped agents when they got lost. The telecom company would have benefitted from having a knowledge base.

Funny - 10/10 - The sheer absurdity of the bill amount makes the situation laughable at best.

Frustrating - 5/10 - Because the woman had to follow up on what was supposed to be an easy fix.

What is common in all of these scenarios is the cavalier approach taken by the customer support teams of the companies. Time and time again, it has been proven that service is at least as important, if not more, than the product that is sold. Customer retention is only possible by maintaining a healthy relationship with customers. For brands to realize true growth, they need to make more of an effort to make customers’ lives easier. Because they are usually the ones causing the inconvenience, they must be the ones to fix it.

A well-designed customer service software system can be the right choice to invest as this can address the number of challenges that companies face in terms of offering exceptional and real-time service to their customers. There are some of the top customer service software solutions that are designed to fit every type of business and every size of business. You can pick the one that suits your requirements. If you have budget constraints, no worries, you can use the free and open source customer service software solutions.

Also, a CRM application that can handle tickets from different platforms can give you reporting analytics, allows you to run marketing campaigns via email and SMS, and can integrate with your help desk system is something that every company needs. Automating daily tasks and setting up reminders for tasks can increase agent productivity and make for a seamless workplace. 

Companies need to step up and take customer service more seriously. Though the phrases “the customer is always right,” or “the customer is king” may ring a bit too dramatic, there is some truth to it. Customers truly hold power to make or break a brand. A word about bad service gets around faster than one would think. To avoid embarrassing ordeals of goof-ups, it is better to treat every customer with respect. Exercising caution when dealing with delicate situations can go a long way towards making customers happy. Businesses really become brands once they have mastered the art of treating their customer’s right. It is always safe to use well designed customer service software.

Vivek Pavani
Vivek Pavani

The author works as a Technical Content Writer for India's top customer service software provider, Kapture CRM. Having been a content writer for 7 years, the author credits much of his interest in the English language to movies and books. Becoming a prominent editor at a famous publishing house is something he seeks in life. 

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