Don’t look back now.

There’s an angry customer wielding a sharp-worded tweet. And oh — take a right, because the end of this path is haunted by the souls of customers past… now much happier at a competitor.

Building a customer experience that satisfies and delights can often feel like you’re navigating through a pretty scary maze. If something goes wrong at your business or a customer isn’t satisfied, you can be sure that you’ll know one way or another.

More than three-quarters (78%) of customers have bailed on a transaction before because of a poor customer experience. And 40% of shoppers abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

Before entering the holiday shopping season you’ll want to step up your customer experience game. That starts with being aware with what can go wrong.

We’ve rounded up some of the spookiest customer service stories so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes ever. To protect the identity of these victims, we’ve anonymized their names.

Read on at your own risk.

1) A Grudge, Gone Viral

Back in August, photographer John Smith took to YouTube after a two-month back-and-forth with screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am over a broken camera.

Less than a year after purchasing a brand new expensive screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am, the camera stopped working. Every time John pressed the record button, the camera would freeze. He sent it off to screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am’s customer service contractor expecting it to be fixed after chatting withscreen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am over the phone and getting an initial diagnosis that it was a manufacturer defect.

To John’s surprise, the third party repair center sent the camera back, saying that the camera showed signs of water damage.

John claimed this was impossible and sent the camera back in for another look. This time, the repair center came back claiming it wasn’t liquid damage – it was indeed corrosion damage. This “damage” voids his warranty.

Once again, John is frustrated because the repair center points to corrosion on the external screws, but never opened the camera to further investigate. “The external screws has absolutely nothing to do with the inside of the camera… [it’s because] I live in Hawaii and I film outdoors… This is what they’re using to cover up a manufacture defect,” John says.

At the end of these two months, John is cameraless and short $3,000. He decides to post a video to YouTube. To date, the video has generated over 33,000 views and hundreds of comments, some from other consumers who have had similar experiences withscreen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am support.

Eventually,screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am caught wind of the video and resolved the situation with John, but the electronics company could have avoided the situation from escalating if they had properly addressed the defect earlier.

Takeaway:

On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Identify valuable customers, such as repeat customers and influencers, early on so that you can nurture them.

2) The Impostor

One day in May 2012, a Twitter user created an account with the handle “screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-11-53-47-am” and then shortly forgot about it. A few months later, the user hopped back on the account after realizing that angry customers had been tweeting in thinking that the parody account was indeed the real deal.

The user posted to Tumblr saying that he would start to engage with these customers, because “God has given me a great, beautiful funnel through which angry people flow in the worst possible mood.”
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To date, the account has over 15.5K followers. It seems like it was a few months before the general public picked up that the account was a parody.

Takeaway:

Get your account verified and use a social monitoring tool such as Mention to track customer service inquiries that are mistyped or mistagged. This makes it easy for customers to identify your account and prevents you from leaving customer inquiries unnoticed.

3) The Maze of Lost Customers

Virgin Media recently conducted some research and found that although 80% of people start their journeys on the Virgin Media website, only 20% of prospects actually convert online.

Since these consumers were touching an average of 2.6 channels before purchasing, there was a big drop off along the way as they researched and reconsidered their buying decision.

Virgin Media realized that every time a prospect engaged with a new channel, he or she would have to re-enter all of their personal information. Considering how nearly 74% of all online consumers get frustrated with websites have nothing to do with their interests, these extra steps were a big drawback.

That’s how someone like Robert Fransgaard can schedule an appointment with a Virgin Media engineer, but the engineer doesn’t have a record of the appointment and thinks that he is booked for the following week. Frustrated, Robert posts his experience on Twitter. Virgin Media then swoops in and reconciles the situation by sending Robert a personalized sign up form reserved for social media advocates.

It’s cases like these that led Virgin Media to turn to Salesforce. Virgin Media decided to leverage Salesforce to create a seamless buying experience across its entertainment and communication services. Using Salesforce’s Service Cloud, Virgin was able to link and share data across its website, call centers, door-to-door sales, and retail stores. Now, every action a customer takes is logged on each channel. The shopping process picks up where they left off from one channel to the next, to create a seamless, personalized experience.

“Our prospects don’t think of Virgin Media online, Virgin Media telesales or Virgin Media retail. They just think of Virgin Media and expect to have a joined-up experience. With Salesforce, we… hopefully provide an experience that means more of our prospects choose to become customers,” says Christopher Coleman, Head of Multi-Channel Sales, Virgin Media.

Takeaway:

Think about the multi-channel journey. Consumers are looking for an easy, consistent, and seamless experience. Consolidate data across channels and devices to personalize optimize the funnel.

These Mistakes Cost an Arm and a Leg

You’ve got goosebumps, don’t you? We did say to read on at your own risk – don’t say we didn’t warn you.

U.S. companies lose $41 billion dollars each year due to poor customer service.

These slip-ups can happen to even the best customer service teams. But the good news is that with a little bit of preparation, you can avoid these costly mistakes.

Strong customer service is proactive, not reactive. You listen to, predict, and serve your customers’ needs before they have to make a case for it. And if you do happen to slip up, own it. Apologize, resolve the issue, and move on. Like any other relationship, customer service is best founded in transparency and trust.