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Published on October 23rd, 2010 | by Rahel Bailie

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Pushing customers away with bad user experience

Dear Imperial Oil,

I’m sure you have user experience people helping you, but I’ll bet you don’t implement half of what they tell you. If you did, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post explaining how to lose supporters and antagonize customers.

I have received my snail-mail letter explaining that I need to update my credit card to use my Esso Speedpass key tag. You give me some instructions, but they don’t  cover my situation.

Your website isn’t helping me because:

  1. I exceeded my number of logins – after all, it’s probably been years since I last went to your website – and now am told to call your Customer Service Center.
  2. Self-service is faster, supposedly, but your “help” center doesn’t answer my question and your FAQs are, well, not particularly helpful.
  3. I fall back on the old telephone, but phoning your customer service center won’t lead me to a customer service agent. AND, pressing “0” just sends me back to the opening menu. (Your support content is definitely not aligned – where is the consistency?)

So, now I’m kind of stuck. On one hand, you’ve made it so painful for me to rectify my problem that my next step is likely to toss my key tag into the trash, shred the letter, and put this experience behind me. I know the score; I’m a single lone customer in a huge pond, and you couldn’t care less whether I renew my account or not.

On the other hand, I like the convenience of a key tag.If I really, really wanted a new Speedpass tag, I could report mine lost, and you’ll send me a new one and all the problems will get rectified, in the course of setting up a new account. But thinking into the future, I’ve already had to replace my credit cards a couple of times this year alone.  Do I want to go through a dead-end voice mail tree each time I need to update my account?

So, Imperial Oil, listen to your user experience folks. I suspect I’m not alone in considering the barriers you’ve built into your customer experience, and deciding it’s easier to bail.


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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,



One Response to Pushing customers away with bad user experience

  1. Theresa says:

    There are many service experiences in this world that drive me nuts. I don’t quite get it – if they want my money, why don’t they make it easy for me to GIVE IT TO THEM? These companies don’t deserve my money…

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