The Road to Losing Customers


One of the worst customer experiences my family and I had was with a roadside assistance company a few years ago. We were pulling our camper to Charleston for a family vacation when two of the camper tires blew and we had to pull over on the side of the highway. My dad called our roadside assistance service to tow our camper to the nearest RV service center. After ending the call, my dad informed us that they were working on getting someone who could tow the camper and they should be there in about an hour. An hour passed with no word from the company or any towing service. My dad called again and was told that they couldn’t find someone who could tow a camper.

We quickly grew restless. It was the middle of July with temperatures above 90 F and we had our dog with us. Someone finally came to assist us nearly FOUR hours after we had called. They were unable to tow a camper, so they replaced the tires with their own tires and drove the camper to their mechanic shop. We still had a three-hour drive to get to Charleston and no camper to house us when we got there.

In the end, we had to cancel our reservations at the campground and book a last-minute reservation at a hotel that allowed dogs. This experience supports a number of recent research findings about customer experience.

Nearly 90% of customers will leave a business after a bad customer experience

Immediately after my family and I returned home, my mom called our roadside assistance company to complain about the experience. Although they apologized for the situation and gave us three months of free service, it didn’t make up for our bad experience and the poor service we received. At the end of three months, my mom canceled our membership.

61% of customers switch to a competitor because of bad customer experiences

After cancelling our membership, we looked into other roadside assistance companies and switched to a competitor who we are still with today. Our current company costs a bit more than our previous one, but we are willing to pay more for better service.

62% of customers have to repeatedly contact a business to get their issues resolved

It took three phone calls to roadside assistance and four hours for someone to show up to assist us. After arriving back home, we discovered that the tires of the people who assisted us were still in our possession and we called the company more than once to tell them that they needed to return the tires back to their owner. I don’t remember them ever resolving that issue.

More than 50% of customers share their bad experiences with more than 5 people

Research shows that bad customer experiences are much more likely to be shared than good ones. We shared our experience with other members of the family and close friends, some of which also switched to a competitor after hearing our horror story. Not only did the company lose us as customers, the bad word of mouth resulted in them losing customers that hadn’t even been through the experience.

At the end of the day, making sure your customer has a good experience using your service should be the top priority for your business. With more than $84 billion lost each year due to poor customer service, what are you doing to make sure your customers are satisfied and prevent your business from losing customers?


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