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How One Brand’s Website Created a Frustrating Guest Experience – and How to Fix It

Brand’s Website Created a Frustrating Guest Experience

The human touch was the only thing that could turn around this guest experience that left a frustrated customer in its wake.

This year, I decided to take the leap and pay for an annual subscription to a brand that offers classes and tutorials that could benefit my work as a writer. The brand also offered a free gift subscription, which I was excited to give to a fellow writer friend.

I pulled out my credit card to pay, hoping to wrap up the transaction within a few minutes. However, the task of signing up for a subscription turned into an experience that took up much of the morning, thanks to a website that was more focused on displaying its high-profile instructors, videos and class listings than providing an easy-to-navigate site.

I’d purchased a gift subscription years ago from the same brand, so the credit card I’d used for that purchase was saved in payment methods. I made the mistake this time of not adding the card I wanted to pay with before accidentally hitting “pay,” which immediately charged the wrong card. In fact, I hadn’t used that card in so long that I wasn’t even sure which card it was.

The transaction went through, but I wanted to put the subscription charge on my current credit card instead and have the other charge refunded. I searched for a customer support phone number, since this issue needed more back-and-forth discourse than I’d find with a chatbot or in the site’s FAQs section.

I was surprised to find that as thoroughly as I searched, there was no support phone number listed, or it was buried so deeply in the brand’s website that it was nearly impossible to find. Finally, I resorted to asking the chatbot how to change my payment method.

Instead of a quick answer, though, it shot back a link to changing the credit card number for my next annual payment. I also got a reply with a link to the site’s FAQs, which directed me to the same information, which wasn’t useful for my purposes.

I wasn’t the only customer who didn’t find the chatbot answers they sought, either.

At the bottom of the page with my question, I was struck by this telling statistic: “5 out of 61 people found this information helpful.” In other words, 56 people did not find the chatbot helpful, at least with this question.  Finally, I asked the chatbot “What is the customer support phone number?”

The bot shot back several suggestions that I’d already tried such as scanning the FAQs, live chat and, of course, asking questions of the chatbot. Finally, in the last message, it sent the phone number for customer service,  which didn’t open for another hour.

I called when they opened, relieved that a real, live human answered the call. It turns out that my question was a bit complicated, and it took the agent about five or ten minutes to cancel the first order so that I could repurchase the subscription, paying with the preferred credit card.

I also had questions about the gift subscription that the chatbot didn’t answer, instead sending me to a page of gift card FAQs that also didn’t answer my questions. But the phone agent answered my questions and directed me to the correct website page with more information.

So, why didn’t the brand take note that a majority of customers’ feedback told it that the information supplied by the chatbot wasn’t helpful and try to find ways to expand the chatbot’s answers to better serve frustrated customers? And why did it make the phone customer support number so hard to find?

I’m sure my friend and I will enjoy our subscriptions to a wide selection of instructional videos taught by well-known authors, business gurus and other experts in their field. Will my frustrating website experience keep me from ordering future subscriptions? I’m not sure.

But my opinion of the brand was diminished by what seems a disregard for its potential customers’ guest experiences. I wonder how many other customers have simply given up after they’re unable to locate the customer support number or get answers they seek from a chatbot.

Good products alone aren’t enough to create an exceptional customer experience. Brands must also consider their customers’ needs for quick answers and the human touch when necessary.