• Anonymous

    That is an awesome story and it’s great to be able to predict unhappy customers.

    But, here’s the deal, you’re deleting seat 32B.  But I’ve been dee-double-dam-lighted to get that seat on occasion.  Last plane out of KC on a Friday with an ORD connection to RDU?  Slap me in that, just let me finish this well double before I get on the plane.

    So, here’s the question: if the customer knows he’s getting 32B, do you still sell it to them?


    • Michael Burek

      Not without changing the requirements to something that you can deliver. For the plane ride, you’ll be miserable for just a few hours, and then life will continue on. For a website, it’s going to stay operating much longer than just during the build time and will impact the customer’s business, and the provider’s business. There are other options for a website provider, and requirements could be changed. For the airplane ride, you can’t say “I won’t really need my left hand until next week, so I’ll leave that here for now so I can get most of my body to my destination.”

      • Anonymous

        LOL, good point.

        I was more thinking, I guess, of a really high quality transactional exchange (think: Nordstrom) rather than an ongoing relationship.

        Which explains most golf clothing, I guess.


    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason Cohen

      Great point. For an airline, the answer is clearly “yes” because as others have said it’s temporary and well-understood.
      At a company like WP Engine where we have a relationship for (hopefully) years, and your experience with us is likely to be related to others, I think it’s still not in WP Engine’s interest to have customers who are in fact not being served well. More tech support, more ill will, etc..

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.golab Steve Golab

    Cliff makes a great point.  Great opportunity to build even more trust by
    possibly offering a discounted fare.  Sort of like the cheap seats at a sporting


    In any case, I’ve had a recent experience that was harrowing.  At my
    coworking facility, the AC broke down on one of the hottest days in history and
    there was a point in the day where the office actually felt hotter inside than
    outside.  Needless to say, I was dilligently working with the repair guy to get
    it fixed.  As this was going on I had some nightmarish thoughts about the repair
    going horribly wrong to the point of crippling our facility.  Thankfully that
    didn’t happen. 


    Over the course of the day, though, I found myself sitting back in a
    coworker’s office while having a conversation about how their office is always
    hot whether the AC is working or not.  As we were having this discussion, he
    noticed that the vent to his office was shut so there was obviously a big reason
    why their room was ALWAYS hot. 


    Of course, we adjusted the vent and now that the AC is fixed, their office is
    one of the coolest offices in our facility.  I can’t believe they have been
    working in that office all summer and haven’t complained once.

  • Barrett Brooks

    Great thought here – and what a challenge for business owners. It takes a very honest and integrity-based perspective to know what you should and should not deliver based on experience. 

    And when you need the revenues, I think it gets even harder. The answer (at least this is my belief) is that the capital you build over time by making honest, integrity-based decisions to best benefit not only your customers, but also your would-be customers is invaluable. It amounts to a line item in your balance sheet because, as you mention, referrals are gold, especially when they come from a non-customer. 

    That is a business reputation to which I aspire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daleting Dale Ting

    Jason I have a similar story that had a pleasant surprise… Had the last seat on the plane because I was bumped from another flight. Got the aisle seat in the last row, so no view, no reclining, and right next to the bathroom. However things got better when the cute flight attendant pulled down the jump seat that was in the aisle next to me and sat down. We had a great conversation during takeoff and landing. Unfortunately I didn’t get her info :)

    Not sure how that relates to your analogy, but there’s got to be a lesson there somewhere. :)

  • Pingback: Why is there a seat 32B? » Process for the Enterprise()

  • http://www.microsourcing.com/disciplines/telemarketing.asp MicroSourcing

    Great take on creating customer experience. While there’s no harm in wanting to create the perfect experience for you customers, it also pays to see the flip-side of things. Your customers’ worst experiences can’t be your blind spot.

  • http://wiki.autodebit.net/index.php?title=Victorias_Secret_and_their_coupons victoria

    Jason, all your stories are always funny and go to the point. I think customers all over the world are just the same :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/bantlan Bantlan Sandhya

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  • Michael Mangalam

    It has been said that a negative comment is several times more impactful than a positive comment.  For that reason alone, worst experiences should be reduced, and if possible, eliminated.

    The issue of seat 32B remains.. As mentioned in a comment, the airline has to sell that seat.. but how about offering a free drink to the seats that have been found awful by previous passengers..

     – Michael Mangalam, Founder, http://www.ParetoCentral.com
    “Crowdsourced and Confidential Consulting for Business Questions”

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