Top 3 Customer Service Horror Stories Of 2022 And How To Offer Better Customer Experiences In 2023

Poor customer service knows no boundaries and happens across all industries. And in this technological age, bad CX stories abound online with customers eager to vent about their worst customer service experiences so that potential customers can make informed decisions. The following three less-than-happy customers shared their customer service horror stories of 2022:

1 . Bank of America: “BOA has lost it! Their reputation/goodwill earned in the past is GONE.” This highly articulate retired Air Force veteran had been a BOA customer for over 33 years. Yet he had seen an overall decline in customer service over the past five, sharing that “The left hand (banking) doesn’t know what the right hand (credit cards) is doing” and citing repeated phone transfers and disconnections, IT process issues, and the general inability of the bank to “deliver a quality product”. Unfortunately for BOA, he wraps up his review by recommending two well-known, full-service banking industry alternatives.

2. Chili’s Grill & Bar: This review goes beyond simply inconsistent or lackadaisical service, all the way to stomach-turning. A couple had been seated after a seemingly unnecessary wait for a table in an empty dining room. A server took their order only to never return, opting instead to take care of several other groups arriving later, some of whom seemed to be friends of his. Eventually, another server (rudely) delivered drinks and entrées to the couple and that is when the dining experience went even more sharply south. The woman’s chicken dinner was nearly raw, yet when pointed out to the server, he said it was simply “rare” and, offering a quick zap in a microwave, took it away despite her explaining that poultry is never served rare, and she wanted it thoroughly cooked through. Server number two did not return, either. She then urged her politely waiting for her husband to eat his own meal. Yet when he opened his sandwich bun, he discovered a fake fingernail! Incredibly, this couple still attempted to get their check so they could pay it but as they couldn’t get anyone to bring it to them, they ultimately left, never to return to any location of this restaurant chain. And no doubt sharing this cautionary tale with as many of their family and friends as possible. 

3. According to a report of best and worst customer experiences in 2022 involving “most visible companies”, Spirit Airlines ranks #95 (#100 being the absolute worst). While its customer reviews vary, there’s an abundance of negative ones across online review sites, with everything from the airline’s seating being so tight, a milk crate in an outhouse might be preferable to dirty, old seats and non-existent legroom. One couple who had carried their 20-year-old bags with no issue onto a departing flight was charged an additional $200 for them on the return. Although they were able to cover this cost, they realized not everyone might be able to, that it could have happened to someone less fortunate, even one of their own kids. Noting the “smug condescension” of the ticket agent, this customer not only declared—in all caps—they wouldn’t ever fly Spirit Airlines again, they wrapped up their review with a startling conclusion: “I hope every one of those 200 dollars brings this airline and their agents nothing but horror and sorrow. I HATE Spirit Airlines. I curse them.”

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Proactive Customer Experience Management in the Post-Pandemic Landscape

The above examples of poor customer service are on the more extreme end, but they are hardly anomalies. And though our current phase of business is considered “post-pandemic”, the aftereffects—labor shortages, product delays, and supply chain issues—are real and ongoing with no particular end in sight. Add to that, cost cutting, and you have a huge challenge to the culture of the customer, including the customer always being the right approach which has been in place for decades. Yet we all want to provide customers with a high level of service along the customer journey, service that they are rightly expecting and for which they have paid in good faith.

Creating the Best Experiences for Your Customers in the Relationship Economy

Service professionals interact with many customers throughout any given day. When service doesn’t live up to a customer’s expectations, the results can vary. The customer may be impatient, even angry, or kind and understanding. Or anywhere in between. Equipping your team members to have compassion in the face of difficult customer interactions gives them the soft skills needed to ease these situations and bring about mutual understanding much more quickly. This empathetic approach often results in the customer service rep feeling appreciated for their efforts and the customer feels cared for, far more likely to return to your business and to share positive reviews, whether online or via word of mouth to family and friends. Often, both.

This post-pandemic landscape offers a real opportunity to business leaders. To become a brand that customers can’t live without—to the point where the price is irrelevant—the primary focus must be on the emotional connections made with customers, vendors, and employees. When your employees receive the right support and training, they can show up with the highest levels of physical, emotional, and mental energy to workdays that might continue to include external factors beyond their control.

*Related – The Relationship Economy: Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age

4 Ways to Strengthen Relationships Along the Customer Journey

Many times, it isn’t the situation itself, but how it is managed that makes the biggest impact on the resulting customer experience. How can your employees more easily navigate today’s shifting circumstances?

  1. Expectation management. To mitigate potential issues down the road, honesty and setting clear expectations with customers at the outset regarding time frames and possible delays can help prevent disappointment.

  2. Communicating proactively. Nobody enjoys waiting and wondering when something will occur. Keeping customers informed can manage expectations and helps keep anxiety on the customers’ end to a minimum.

  3. Showing empathy to customers when things go wrong. A sincere apology can go a long way toward boosting customer satisfaction.

  4. Going beyond fixing the issue—turning the situation around! A follow-up email or call is always a good idea. You can further empower your team to go the extra mile by offering the customer a discount or a thoughtfully chosen gift. Since it has been shown that after a positive resolution is made to a problem a high percentage of customers will do more business with a brand, even greater customer loyalty can be gained when the occasional snafu is transformed into a positive experience.

*Related – How to be a Zero-Risk Company

Empowering Team Members Leads to Brand Loyalty

The age-old idea of treating others how one would want to be treated still applies. No matter what the arena, if both parties attempt to understand the other and extend kindness and empathy, the results are positive the vast majority of the time. When applied in business, rather than a customer feeling so frustrated they are hurling curses around, they feel cared for, supported, and even more loyal to the business making it possible.

Consider the online pet company Chewy. In a Forbes article, Brand Contributor Lara Caimi shares how heartbroken she and her parents were upon the passing of their beloved family dog, Dudley. When her mother called the Fortune 500 company’s contact center to cancel future medicine orders, the customer service team member was empathetic and helpful as expected. But the additional step of sending sympathy flowers to their home took Chewy’s customer care to the next level. Its business leaders have included in the company’s business model steps to empower their teams to provide the best support—in real, meaningful ways—along the customer journey. The fierce loyalty these compassionate actions engender has given the company a place in the hearts and homes of its customers as well as a serious competitive advantage. Further proof that being human is good business.

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Episode 104 of the CSRev Podcast – How To Turn the Great Resignation Into The Great Retention

Many factors have contributed to The Great Resignation that we are currently in. We could point the finger at economic turmoil, bad leadership, a changing culture, and so much more. However, what is most important is figuring out how to turn this Great Resignation around. How can we turn it into The Great Retention?

In this episode, John DiJulius will teach you how. This episode comes from a keynote John delivered at the Customer Service Revolution Conference in November. Tune in to learn a few practical things you can do to start hiring better employees and retaining them longer.

You Will Learn:

  1. Why there is such a need to develop great leaders
  2. Why the brands that survive The Great Resignation era will be the ones who remained relentless with their hiring standards.
  3. How to create a recruitment experience.
  4. How to make your interview process ungame-able.
  5. How to create an onboarding experience.
  6. The importance of developing the whole person.
  7. The power of purpose.

Excited to be Named One of the World’s Top 30 Customer Experience Professionals for 2022


“Build your company’s customer experience as if no customer has bad intentions.”


One of the highlights and surprises from the 2022 Customer Service Revolution Conference

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.