Customer experience triumphs and blunders surround us everyday in the headlines. Just last week or so I was scrolling though my feeds and found examples of organizations that were reacting to customer experience opportunities in different ways. We can learn lessons from each of them, including one that is good, one that is bad, and this week, one that is ugly.

Here are three lessons from the headlines just in the past couple of weeks:

The Good: HP Chromebook 11 pulled from shelves (and online) when chargers reported to overheat.

Google and HP acted quickly when there was a problem with their New HP Chromebook 11, a new inexpensive laptop computer that hit the market last month. It seems that the chargers were overheating. Instead of ignoring the problem and waiting to see if it would get worse, they pulled the machines from purchase in stores and online. They are currently trying to determine what the cause is.

What they did to fix it: After apologizing to customers that had already purchased the computers for the inconvenience, they suggested using an alternate charger while they worked out a better solution. So this teaches all of us that…

Lesson #1: When things heat up, keep your cool.

The Bad: Southwest Airlines Pilot Says Over the PA system “We’re Going Down,” terrifying passengers.

When passengers on a recent Southwest Airlines flight were told “We’re Going Down” by the pilot over the PA system followed by what felt like a nosedive in the plane, they were more than a little concerned. Luckily, the plan landed safely. The maneuver was in response to a technical difficulty with the cabin pressure. The pilot, who was explaining to the flight attendants what the problem was and how he needed to lower the altitude quickly by 10,000 feet, didn’t realize that the PA system was on in the cabin for the passengers to overhear.

What they did to fix it: After the spokesperson for Southwest said that the passenger was “inaccurate”, Southwest Airlines apologized for causing any of the passengers undue alarm in the error. At least one passenger was offered a voucher for a future flight for any “uneasy feelings” the incident may have caused her. What the pilot teaches us all is that one should…

Lesson #2: Choose Your Words Carefully. And Make Sure the Button is Off.

The Ugly: Lululemon’s Chairman and co-founder Chip Wilson blames women’s bodies for their yoga pants’ problems.

The stock for Lululemon, yoga-wear retailer, suffered more controversy last week when Chairman and co-founder Chip Wilson cited women’s bodies as the problem with their yoga pants on Bloomberg TV last week. The pants have been criticized for being too sheer and too easily prone to pilling. He mentions that rubbing through the thighs and too much pressure on the pant’s fabric causes the problems. He was quoted as saying, “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work for [the pants] Lululemon had also admitted in the past that Plus-Size customer is not part of its formula.

What they did to fix it: Wilson make a public apology that said the public response to his statement made him “really sad.” But he didn’t apologize for blaming women’s bodies for the problems with the pants. His apology was not exactly what the public was looking for and the backlash against the brand continues.  This teaches us what every sensible man knows…

Lesson #3: Kindly accept constructive feedback & don’t blame the customer

To Summarize What We Learned These Past Couple Weeks

Each interaction you have with your customer creates an experience, including what they read about you in the headlines. These stories create an emotional experience with your brand that can inspire them to do business with you, or inspire them to find a better alternative.

Your organization’s Emotional Signature plays a large role in your customer retention and loyalty. An Emotional Signature is the level of emotional engagement that you create with your customers. In our research here at Beyond Philosophy, we have discovered 20 emotions both good and bad that drive value for your brand. We believe that how your company uses these emotions in your experience affects what your customers will do moving forward. Stories like these affect that emotional signature so handling them well can definitely reap you big rewards in customer experience.

Every business is going to have a problem or make a mistake or have a recall, or even just have a dissatisfied customer. How you react and how you resolve these problems will affect the emotional signature your brand has in the hearts and minds of your customers. Handle them well and join the others on the good list. Otherwise you can end up over on the bad, which as it pertains to customer experience can be really ugly!

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Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world.  He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.

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