3 • It should have been simple

In this case study of customer service chaos, we're going to look at how the simple act of buying a washing machine from a national retailer turned into a customer experience nightmare. It's a story of cascading process failures and avoidable customer pain, with lessons for every organisation to learn.

PODCAST • 18 minute listen

In this podcast episode

Come with me on a journey of highs and lows, from the heights of elation, to the crashing disappointment of 'computer says no.' You'll hear simplicity made complex, a triumph of process bureaucracy over common sense, but with an ending that shows why simple human intervention from people who care about their company just gets things done.

If you're in customer service, this is a story you can learn from.

I thought buying a washing machine from a national retailer would be a simple process. I mean, they sell hundreds of thousands of items in their stores and online every year. How hard can this be?

And why did it leave me thinking of the Clint Eastwood classic, Dirty Harry?

In the 21st century, where customer service is a priority and customer experience is at the top of executives' "must have" list, surely this simple act can't turn into another service failure example?

Yet this is precisely where we went. A nine minute process turns into two hours of complexity, involving six people and hunting down a national retail manager on LinkedIn to try and spare other customers some pain.

In this episode, as I tell you the story of my journey through the Kubler-Ross grief cycle whilst just trying to buy an essential item in a covid-19 lockdown, you'll hear about the customer service consequences of basic problems like:

• IT system failures blamed on the customer
• Managerial avoidance of a difficult customer situation
• Organisational bureaucracy and conflicting customer purchasing policies
• Why "computer says no" causes real customer pain
• The saving grace of human intervention by a senior executive, which magically fixes problems.

The episode finishes with three key lessons for every customer service manager, which I'll be exploring in more detail in the next few episodes of the Service First podcast. Make sure you subscribe on your favourite podcast provider.


Customer service just shouldn't be this hard when you're trying to give a retailer your money

Dr. Jason Price

Lessons to learn

The key learning points you can take from this podcast and apply to your own situation are:

  • Never make your problems the customer's fault. If your processes and systems are broken, it's time to get back to basics and fix them.
  • If you're a manager, you need to lead by example. Speak to the customer and help your staff, don't throw them under the bus.
  • It's within your power to turn a customer service disaster around by taking action and looking at their needs and circumstances. If things are broken, learn lessons and make improvements

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