Emotional experience

CX Storytime Tale of When Shame Came to Town

Stay tuned for a story of public humiliation, misdeeds and good intentions

This is the CX Storytime Tale of…. When Shame Came to Town

In this episode, not one but THREE tales of customer experience shame.

All the stories you are about to hear may be different in setting and players, but the result is always the same. Shame. Shame. Shame.

The Stories

Story ONE – When a Ticket isn’t Just a Ticket

In our first story, a young man in his 40s named Roger is excited to check out the latest movie blockbuster. So he does his research, selects his entertainment and takes the steps necessary to get admission.
Now a days, there are so many options to get your movie tickets.
An app, a website, a machine at the theatre or through an actual human being at the theatre’s ticket counter. There really isn’t a wrong way to do this, every path leads to a ticket in hand and a bum in seat. “Really isn’t” are the words to take note of here. Believing that very thing, Roger goes to, not the threatre’s website, not the movie chain’s website, but to a third party website that has the tickets ready and available.

Ticket purchased. Ticket printed. And off to the theatre he goes.

At most movie theatres, there’s still a staff member on site to rip your ticket in two. This practices if for two reasons: first to make sure you have a ticket at all and second to direct you to your particularly numbered movie theatre. It’s a part of the ritual of movie going.

For this night’s experience, the theatre manager is filling in on ticket ripping duties. And, when he takes hold of Roger’s particular ticket, the experience isn’t as smooth or as traditional as it has been any of the 1000s of times before. Instead, the manager stops, looks at the ticket, looks up at Roger, looks back at the ticket, and then, in front of a long row of patrons says…

“Why did you use this website to buy your ticket? That was foolish. You know you paid a dollar more for that service. Why would you do that? You should have just used our website. You won’t pay so much that way.”

Roger replies, a little shocked at the tone he is being lashed with, “I didn’t know.”

“Well you won’t make that mistake next time will you,” he says. And then gestures Roger to let him through.

Roger just really wanted to be entertained that night, but instead was public shamed and became the entertainment for others in line.

Story TWO – A Body of Sorts

Our second story finds Heather returning to her local mall. Not because she’s on the look out for some new clothes but rather because she has to return some. Specifically a blue pair of lingerie that didn’t fit quite right that she’s hoping to exchange for a a better one.

It’s rarely fun returning anything. The goal of any purchase or gift is for it to be a simple, one-time exchange of goods for money. In this case however, Heather finds herself in a lingerie store, trying to pre-determine if her return will allow her to get her money back or if she will have to look around for something to buy with the store credit she is about to get.

After perusing the store, to get some exchange ideas just in case, she makes contact with a member of the staff. The hope is a simple exchange of “this didn’t fit, oh that’s too bad let me take it back for you, here’s your money” back and forth… unfortunately in this case, the clerk added a bit more to the conversation.

As Heather made her way up to the counter to conduct her return, the staff member chose this moment to get into some small talk about the ill fitting lingerie.

“When do you buy it?”

“Is this your prefered style or are there any other styles you like?”

“What was wrong with it?”

Now this last question led to a, what we can assume the staff member meant as an educational moment, for Heather. The conversation had ended, the return had been made but the cleark had one more thing to say.

“You know, bodies change over time.”

Heather was taken back by this comment, choosing not to respond but rather look puzzled, take her store credit and leave.

Story THREE – Who’s Pizza is this Anyway?

Our final story joins Joseph and Darcy at a newly opened pizzeria in their neighbourhood.

They are the kind of couple always excited to try out a new restaurant, however this sometimes comes with challenges. Darcy is celiac aka “gluten is the enemy.” And of course this means Joseph is too by association. So when they find a place that is sensitive to this scenerio… it’s an exciting day. And this pizzeria gives them a big reason to smile: gluten free artisan pizza.

Putting in their order while highlighting the celiac situation, they wait at a nearby set of high tables.

In approximately 10 minutes, the name “JOSEPH!” blurts from a staff member. Their pizzas were born and ready to go.

Jumping from their chairs, and taking the two pizzas from the staff member, after a knowing silence, quick smile and some eye contact, they make their way home. Once there, they dug in.

Only these particular pizzas did not look as advertised on the menu.

The couple reason with each other, “Well, they were “artisan” pizzas. Maybe they were a little creative in the ingredients? Who are we to question hipster pizza?” Another slice is eaten.

Wait, these pizzas also do not look gluten-less. As any good celiac can tell you, there is a certain “flatness” or “denceness” to gluten free dough. This was not that. “Maybe this was really good gluten-free pizza dough?” says Darcy, hopeful, concerned and starving.

Joseph makes a quick call to the pizza shop. They had indeed been handed the wrong pizza. Stuffed with gluten and all.

The tale from the pizzaria is there had been TWO Josephs there that day and our couple had simply grabbed the wrong ones. When Joseph and Darcy return to get their pizza, and the staff were explaining what had happened, they told Joseph that his “hungry brain” must be the reason he grabbed the wrong pizza.

An attempt at levity, delivered as blame.

And these are the tale times 3… of When Shame Came to Town

Friend Filter (How is this perceived?)

Now, from the filter of building or breaking a friendship with your customers

How would these experiences be perceived?

In all three stories, from the movie theatre to the lingerie store to the pizzaria, the customer was made to feel bad and a level of blame.

Whether it was Roger, going to the airquotes “wrong” website to buy his movie tickets, or Heather getting a biology lesson on the affects of time on her body or Joseph and Daphne being so mindless overwhelmed by hunger they grab the wrong pizza, in each case the customer was made to feel like they had something wrong, even when they weren’t doing anything really wrong.

  1. In Roger’s case, he never did use that website again, but he also has less loyalty to that movie theatre. When before he liked the local convenience, he’s more likely to give the larger cineplex out of a town a try too. At least they don’t make him feel bad.
  2. In the case of Heather’s returned lingerie, she now makes a point of not going back. She actually has another piece of clothing she needs to return right now, a piece she’ll never wear again, but won’t return it because of how she was shamed.
  3. Joseph and Darcy make half-hearted jokes about the “hungry brain” incident and will tell every one they know about the local pizzeria that resorted to blaming.

It’s hard to build a relatoinship with someone that does that to you.

What Worked or What Could Have Been Done

What Can We Learn From the Story

  1. Always look for an opportunity to be helpful – In the case of the movie tickets, Roger would have really appreciated the manager telling them how much they could save next time and money if they had gone through their own website. And that’s all he needed to say to be helpful.
  2. Practice Empathy – It’s very important to be more personalized in customer engagement. Remembering names, last experiences, both good and bad… and put yourself in their shoes. Would you like to be told you’re getting old or have assumptions made about the choices you make? No, and neither does a customer.
  3. Communicate and Clarify – Repeat back to the customer the purchase or service they are paying for when confusion is a even a slight possibility. Remove the opportunity for misunderstanding. It’s just good practice.

Morale of the Story

In the journey from purchase to product or service delivery, understand the customer wants to have a good experience, even if they make a mistake.

Treat others as they want to be treated




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