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A Bad Customer Experience - The Cost - One Cent

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

I was going to post an article this week on the seemingly lack of motivation on the part of many companies to implement an integrated mobile solution. If the mindset of these companies continues and if they neglect to give this the proper attention it will be at a cost much like not having an integrated customer relationship management solution.

After reading the following story I am going to share with you written by Wendy Victora, Managing Editor at, entitled “This penny wasn’t worth the trouble it caused”, I decided to write about another critical issue confronting companies in today’s marketplace and that is Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

This story points out how a mismanaged series of events can expose significant problems and result in a less than desirable outcome.

For the Cost of a Penny

“Last week, my daughter spotted a penny in the parking lot and bent to pick it up.

She had trouble prying it off the ground, coated as it was with disinterest and unknown fluids. After a brief struggle, she gave up and reached for the hand sanitizer.

She’s been collecting loose change lately, mostly from our kitchen counter, and has filled a decent sized jar.

But a penny isn’t worth much anymore, even to scavengers.

I dropped one while paying for breakfast at a drive-through this morning and the cashier told me not to worry about it – she had plenty.

We all do, most of the time.

Last month, I was one short, apparently.

And I didn’t know it until I got a disconnect notice from a local utility company. I knew it wasn’t a normal bill by the angry-colored orange box visible through the window of the envelope.

My service would be shut off Feb. 26, the notice informed me, unless I paid my overdue amount of 1 cent.

I am not making this up.

I had apparently written the check for the wrong amount and triggered the alarm system for being a deadbeat customer.

I was irate and went to bed that night fantasizing about driving to Valparaiso – the nearest customer service center – and handing them the nastiest penny I could find.

When I called the next day, a bored customer service rep told me they wouldn’t cut off my service for a penny.

She said the computer automatically generates those notices.

When I pointed out that, from a customer service perspective, that was a huge fail, she was uninterested.

There was a time when common sense would have kept that notice from being launched.

There was a time when an apology would have been issued.

There was a time when a penny was worth something, when it was a respectable little coin.

But I can’t remember a time when it was worth more than good customer relations.”

You would think that with the technology available to companies today, especially companies that have the resources to break down silos in their customer relationship marketing, would be taking the necessary steps to update their CRM processes.

With the enormous power customers have today to make impact on a brand’s reputation it is imperative to have the right people in front of the customer and the right processes in place to deal with and detect issues across the organization.

Each department and its employees must have access to the information available on its customers, if not each time a customer interacts with the company, that department has to provide the same information over and over again, duplicating effort and wasting time. This is not good customer relationship management is inefficient and frustrating for both customers and employees.

You must also have employees who are motivated to help customers when they call with a problem, not employees who act “uninterested”.

Empower you people to make decisions.

Customers don’t care who they are talking to only that they have a problem that needs to be solved. If they are not connected with the right person and are passed around, customers get the feeling that your business is not organized, no one wants to help them or both.

I am sure that you have all had these feelings trying to solve an issue that is important to you. Require your customer service reps or anyone who deals with customers to treat the people they communicate with in a way that they themselves would want to be treated. Empower your reps to solve the problem in the shortest amount of time possible and everyone will feel better for having found a solution and possibly create some good will.

The Wrong Message

Wendy should have never been sent a bill for one penny. First of all, it probably cost the company more to process that penny they might receive and secondly you don’t want to send customers messages that are going to upset or scare them and then just tell them you were just kidding.

There is only one outcome and that is a lost customer, in most cases, and all the negative word of mouth the customer can communicate to friends, family and across their social channels. Multiplied you can understand that this could have a devastating impact on your business.

And take notice! Marketing automation technology today is evolving but still finds it difficult, especially in B2C, to be able to recognize that people are complex humans that have many different reasons for any particular action they perform online or offline.

Every customer’s experience is different and to think that you can assume or generalize what a customer’s intentions are can be an ill-advised and hazardous undertaking.


You first need to understand that communities should exist to serve the people in it but the residual benefits to your company can be substantial. Companies that understand and respect this can successfully leverage this asset.

Cultivating the customer experience through a Customer Relationship Management Community is a mutually beneficial way to foster communication and trust between you and your existing customers, potential customers and employees through a central hub, your website, which will emanate your customer centric culture across all your social channels and magnify your organic SEO and social reach to increase not only your inbound lead generation to gain new members but benefit all aspects of your marketing strategies.

In fact, many successful brands are successful because consumers organized around them through brand communities and defined what the brand meant. Today, consumers have the power. They can define the meaning of your brand regardless of how you may want to define it. They can also rally around your brand and to become advocates and influencers.

The benefit of having community members is that you can actually understand their wants, needs and concerns through “one on one” communication that is worth far more than assuming or guessing at their intentions and/or pursuing consumers you don’t know around the internet trying to entice them into to doing something they may not have any intention of doing at the risk of alienating them.

Consumers are inundated with all the ways that exist today to get in front of them and others are developing technology to counter this with technology like ad blockers that according to a recent article at Chief Marketer by Zach Schapira, “In the long-term if pervasive ad blocking shrinks the supply of sellable inventory, publishers may try to make up for the lost revenue by raising CPMs for advertisers.”

Why keep spending more and money on ways to figure out how to get in front of consumers that are trying to avoid you when you can, for a fraction of the cost, create a CRM Community to engage and communicate with them on their terms.

Customer Relationship Management Communities act as a portal to gain valuable information through interaction with your customers who will welcome your contact, to enhance and target your marketing initiatives more effectively by knowing your customers and discovering patterns through interaction to build buyer personas to personalize your marketing messages in the most transparent and effective way available today.

The benefits that these communities will bring are the most cost effective way inwhich to engage, retain, manage, nurture and form alliances with your community members, employees and potential customers that will not only foster loyalty and retention but promote your business in the most positive ways imaginable- all combining to raise the bar in defining personalization and customer relations.

Companies with onsite customized CRM Communities can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and higher brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to connect with and understand your customer’s and potential customer’s concerns, wants and needs without assuming or generalizing their intentions.

Oliver Jaeger, Vice President Global Marketing & Communications for e-Spirit Inc. in North America, states in his article How to create a strong customer experience engine, “With so many different ways to communicate with customers, companies have to work harder and smarter to build and maintain strong relationships. And that engagement must span not just the buying phase, but the entire customer journey -- from awareness to purchase to implementation and support -- to create an outstanding customer experience at all touch points and channels.”

Forrester Research also points out that the three most important measurements of satisfaction are:

  1. Effectiveness-The value the customer perceives they are getting.
  2. Ease-The effort the customer must put in.
  3. Emotion- How customer feels about the overall experience.

All of which a properly customized and executed onsite Customer Relationship community can nurture.

A CRM community offers the engine that can pull all of this together onto one central platform located on your website for your business emanating with brand loyalty, influencers and devoted customers.

Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts-go here for more in-depth information on CRM Communities. Then let’s schedule a time to have a “one on one” discussion about customizing a CRM Community for your company.

William Cosgrove

I would like to thank Wendy Victora for allowing me to reprint her story for this post.