5 tactics to deliver dreadful customer experience

Author - Nicholas Vinther Skov. Head of CX Advisory

Ever wondered how to masterfully ruin your customer experience? Well, you’re in luck! Today, we'll explore the dark art of delivering a dreadful customer experience, replete with concrete examples and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Buckle up as we dive into 5 tactics that will make sure your customers flee faster than a cat in a dog park.

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Introducing the Dark Arts of customer mismanagement

Before we dive into the specific tactics that can ruin your customer experience, let's set the stage for this unconventional journey. Think of the customer experience as a delicate ecosystem. Every interaction matters and every misstep has consequences.

But what if, instead of nurturing this ecosystem, you decided to unleash chaos upon it? Welcome to the dark arts of customer mismanagement, where the goal is to systematically dismantle any semblance of customer satisfaction.

Let this serve as your primer to becoming the Voldemort of customer service: feared, notorious, and, ironically, memorable for all the wrong reasons. Let's explore how spectacularly things can go wrong when you embrace the worst practices in customer experience.


1. "The silent treatment"

The Silent Treatment involves disregarding customer complaints and acting as if grievances voiced by customers don’t exist. Ignore those pesky customer complaints like they are yesterday's news! Pretend they are just whispers in the wind and watch frustration bloom like a garden of discontent.

You can accomplish this strategy in many ways: Not responding to emails, disregarding posts on social media, skipping feedback forms… It’s your call!

An example of The Silent Treatment:

A tech company receives frequent complaints about the battery life of its smartwatches. Instead of addressing these complaints, the company chooses to ignore them, not even acknowledging their receipt.

The result? A once-enthusiastic customer base is now actively discouraging potential buyers on social media, sharing their stories of neglect.


2. "The misinformation maze"

The truth is overrated. That’s why The Misinformation Maze is about consistently providing customers with false or misleading information. Whether due to lack of training, miscommunication, or sheer negligence.

After all, why bother with accurate information? Just sprinkle a little ambiguity here, a dash of misinformation there, and voila! You've got yourself a recipe for customer confusion and irritation.

An example of The Misinformation Maze:

A travel agency specializes in customized vacations. However, its agents often provide incorrect information about visa requirements, resulting in travelers being detained or deported upon arrival at their destinations.

The agency's reputation for reliability crumbles as customers share their horror stories online, turning a dream vacation into a logistical nightmare.


3. "The quality abyss"

The Quality Abyss is another fast track to unhappy customers and damaged brand credibility. This approach involves delivering products and services that are significantly below industry standards:

Serve up products and services like a chef with a blindfold and a broken spatula. Whether it's a gadget that fizzles out faster than a wet firecracker or a service that's about as reliable as a weather forecast, make sure disappointment is the main course.

An example of The Quality Abyss:

A new restaurant opens with fanfare, promising a farm-to-table dining experience. However, the food is consistently substandard, with stale ingredients and sloppy preparation.

Diners leave disappointed, and reviews plummet as the restaurant fails to meet even the most basic expectations of quality. 


4. "The rudeness olympics"

The Rudeness Olympics tactic involves employees treating customers with contempt or disrespect in order to alienate them and undermine loyalty. You can accomplish this goal through a variety of methods, including dismissive attitudes, sarcastic comments, and outright rude behavior.

It’s time to channel your inner grump. With a dash of sarcasm here and a sprinkle of condescension there, you'll have them wondering why they ever bothered to darken your doorstep in the first place.

An example of The Rudeness Olympics:

At a luxury boutique, staff are trained to prioritize high-spending customers, often ignoring or being rude to others who appear less affluent.

This elitist attitude costs the store many loyal customers who feel marginalized and insulted, choosing instead to spend where they are treated with respect and dignity.


5. "The phantom fifth"

Ah, the pièce de résistance! We promised you, dear reader, five tantalizing tactics, but alas, we've decided to keep the fifth under lock and key. Why, you ask? Because it's the epitome of customer mismanagement, the art of overpromising and underdelivering in its most tantalizing form. Consider it a cliffhanger in the grand saga of irritation. After all, where's the fun if we spill all the beans?


Let's be real now...

Of course, these tactics really reflect the antithesis of excellent customer experience. We believe the cornerstone of outstanding customer experience rests on four pillars: trust, differentiation, product, and treatment.

  • Trust: Ensuring transparency and honesty in every interaction.
  • Differentiation: Standing out by genuinely caring about your customers.
  • Product: Consistently delivering top-notch products and services.
  • Treatment: Treating every customer with the dignity and respect they deserve.




If you want to excel at customer experience, these pillars can serve as your guide. However, if you prefer the chaotic charm of customer dissatisfaction, the above master class in mismanagement may just be your blueprint.

Mastering customer experience is not about avoiding mistakes; it's about learning from them. By understanding what can go terribly wrong, we can better appreciate the importance of getting it right. In other words, understanding the worst practices helps us highlight the best.

Our belief in these cornerstones is not without merit. Since 1996 we have thoroughly analyzed the drivers of customer experience and loyalty, building on scientific methodologies. We could have written this entire post with heavy use of data, charts, and highly academic language. But this time around, we decided to endeavor on a more fun approach.

We hope you enjoyed it and made you smile once or twice. If not - thank you for your patience.

If you'd like to learn more about our Customer Experience services, you can find more information here.

Nicholas Vinther Skov. Head of CX Advisory

Nicholas Vinther Skov. Head of CX Advisory

Nicholas provides fact-based consulting to his customers on improving the customer experience. With his never-ending drive, Nicholas seeks out, discovers and picks up on the latest trends within his field – and shares this knowledge with the world in this blog.