The 10 Golden Rules of a Bad Customer Experience

By David Ive and Steven Walden

Heaven Hell

Going on a luxury cruise should be the time of your life.  That is unless you share it with a 2,500 strong ‘gang of raucous, heavy-drinking, leather-clad bikers’. Now don’t take offence, if this was a cruise just for bikers then no problem but in all honesty a strategy of mixing ‘the roughs or toughs’ with the grannies and granddads of Flitwick is not the best of ideas.

Let’s take just a few examples. Here are some comments from an Emerald member of the Cruise Line, bear in mind that Emerald means highly loyal, regular user:

‘When we arrived at the pier, we were asked if we were aware of the convention. Which we were not!’

‘During our Cruise we were disappointed with the atmosphere, two-thirds bikers…. they never dressed up for anything. Black Biker T-shirts were all over the ship.’

‘Waiters wore Biker T-shorts over their uniforms every evening.’

‘This Cruise was very different; hardly surprising when there were 2/3rds Bikers. Formal night was dreadful…. The Cruise was biased towards the Bikers Rally.’

And here are some more comments in a more abrasive tone from a National Newspaper:

‘The 2,500 strong gang of raucous, heavy-drinking, leather clad bikers and their partners.

‘They monopolised the swimming pool areas on board, holding rowdy competitions such as ‘belly smacker’ diving.’

‘They were drinking heavily all day and it was just very inappropriate for children.’

It seems that things also didn’t go well in other areas as well, perhaps confirming the old adage that problems come in threes:

‘Our shoes were sticking to the floor, it was very dangerous.’

‘We arrived at our Stateroom only to find the carpet on the corridor had been removed and replaced by blue carpet pieces held together with white tape.’

Perhaps from this one example we can give some rules of how NOT to manage a Customer Experience:

The 10 Golden Rules of How to Create a Bad Customer Experience

Rule 1: Always be Dishonest

If it’s a Cruise dominated by Bikers, then don’t tell anyone – unless they happen to be a Biker of course. Don’t worry about Customer Lifetime Value or Recommendation, just get the sale now! You are targeted on sales commission aren’t you?

Rule 2: Remember the Customer is just a number

Don’t give them a name; just put them all down as walking freight. Who cares that they may have different needs? Just make sure you cater exclusively for the majority.

Rule 3: Once they’ve paid, forget them

You’ve got their money, why reduce your profit margin.

Rule 4: If they complain, be rude

Rudeness can help get around any issue. If you ignore them for long enough they’ll go away. Even better by being rude they will learn they can’t get any help and then won’t complain in the first place. An intimidating atmosphere always helps as well.

Rule 5: Be lazy

Don’t make work for yourself, when none is required.  If the rooms are bad, well repair them in your own good time. What are they going to do?  Jump overboard and swim back home. Sue, yeah right! Joe Bloggs vs. One of the World’s largest Cruise lines.

Rule 6: Put the problem on them

You mean you don’t like Bikers. Their people just like you and me, are you some kind of racist. That always works a treat.

Rule 7: Make the complaints process difficult

Complaining is hard enough, if you can make it even harder then they’ll soon give up.

Rule 8: Offer some derisory compensation

$100 off their next Cruise usually works. They’ll give up and take it. Why try and fight one of the World’s largest Cruise Lines

Rule 9: Use lots of waffle and corporate speak, never address the problem

No need to rock the boat too early just use lots of waffle words that avoid the problem:

‘Whether an individual guest, a group of friends, or an organise group, our goal is to provide guests with an enjoyable experience’.

Some nice legal speak is always good:

‘For privacy purposes, we on not share booking information to anyone other than the guests booked directly in that reservation.’

Rule 10: In the end get nasty!

Fear is a very useful device if they look like their getting serious. Corporate lawyers, threats, pull out the works that will shut them up. You might want to state something to the effect of; if they say anything we’ll sue you for reputational damage.

Feels like the Cruise Line has breached new ground in Customer Experience: now together with the 10 Golden Rules of a Good Customer Experience we can also refer to the 10 Golden Rules of a Bad Customer Experience. Thank You.

Steven Walden is VP Consulting and Thought-Leadership for Beyond Philosophy. Steven has 17 years Strategy Consultancy experience directing and designing strategies for major B2C & B2B firms. At Beyond Philosophy, the Global Customer Experience Consultancy, he is a Thought Leader and Innovator, directing engagements to assist leading firms to transform through Customer Experience. A world-leader in emotional experience his skills lie in innovation, thought-leadership, strategy consultancy and Qual/ Quant research. He is a regular speaker at conferences, blog writer, CE Trainer and international author.

David Ive is Chief Financial Officer for Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. With over 40 year’s specialist experience in the Financial Markets, David joined Beyond Philosophy in 2002 & is responsible for the group’s financial and HR matters.