Identifying the straw that breaks the camel's back

Identifying the straw that breaks the camel’s back

Last week I had one of those “straw that breaks the camel’s back” moments.

Living a little bit ‘off grid’ my house is heated by an LPG gas tank which consumes gas at an alarming rate.  Being the super organised person that I am, and knowing the rate at which our tank empties, I placed an order with a national supplier for a refill as soon as it hit the 30% level.

Ten days later, with the Beast from the East looming, there was still no sign of my gas delivery.  It was time to get on the phone. I called and waited in a queue with no idea how long that queue may be. I’m mildly miffed at this point – at least tell me how long the queue is so I can decide if I want to wait or not! Finally, twenty minutes later, I got through to a human being and was told that my delivery hadn’t even been scheduled! Now I’m irritated. Don’t worry, they said, we will get a delivery date and phone you back.

I didn’t receive a call back. Frustrated, I called them back. Again.

After forty minutes of waiting in the phone queue this time, they were very apologetic, but still no scheduled delivery – they will get a date and phone me back.

Again, no-one called me, despite their assurances that this time they would.  By now I am furious. My gas tank is down to 8%, snow is due in two days and these people make promises they don’t keep.

I phone again. Yet another very long wait in the queue with the now very familiar voice giving me tips on how to stay warm and cosy this winter. When I finally get through and am told yet again that my delivery is still not even scheduled, I blow a gasket – especially when the operator tells me they will find out more and call me back. Of course I don’t believe him, but I cannot stay on the phone any longer – I am now livid!

Straw that breaks camels back

I fire off an email via the website. No response.

I take to social media and send a Tweet.

I put a strongly worded complaint on Facebook.

And just for good measure, I also leave them a voicemail.

Finally I get a call back with a delivery time just in time for the arrival of the Beast from the East. And I did stay warm and cosy during the snowy week.

But I vowed “never again” and will be using a different LPG supplier next time.

The following day, once I had calmed down, I discovered a new word that beautifully described my ‘straw’ moment. I had a “conniption”. As defined in the Oxford Dictionary, a “conniption” means “a fit of rage or hysterics”. I’d never heard that word used before but since reading this article, it is now a firm favourite of mine. Thank you, Ian Golding, for broadening my vocabulary!

It made me think about “conniption” moments in relation to customer experience and how, had my LPG supplier been aware that the broken promises made by their call centre agents had pushed me over the edge, they could have contacted me, apologised, investigated the issue and put new procedures in place. And in doing so, they could have won back my loyalty.

But how many organisations are actually able to identify those moments that push a customer over the edge? You know, the ones that break the camel’s back?

Any Voice of Customer programme worth its salt will offer organisations a tool that tells the right person at the right time when a customer is on the verge of defection. If acted upon promptly, a lost customer can be won back into the fold and even turned into an advocate, if it is handled in the right way.

Here at Feedback Ferret, the tool we use to identify these “conniption” moments is Hot Alerts. This is an incredibly powerful business intelligence tool for use by front-line staff when very negative comments have been given as part of the customer feedback process. Assuming customer feedback is listened to!

The Ferret flags up ‘Hot Alerts’ in customer feedback and sends them to front-line staff via email or SMS so they can trouble-shoot issues before they escalate or sales opportunities are lost.

My colleague, Rob Holdcroft (Client Service Director), sees the effect Hot Alerts have in practice: “Hot Alerts are one of the most sought after and valuable reporting tools in our product range and are used by nearly all our clients. They bring real value to a VoC programme because clients use them to win customers back into the fold. Hot Alerts often pay for the entire programme in terms of the return on investment they deliver.”

One of our clients, Origin Energy, saved $250,000 by using Hot Alerts to identify when customers reach that ‘conniption’ moment and threaten to take their case to the Ombudsman. Read the full story here.

So if you need to identify the ‘straws that break the camel’s back’ within your organisation, contact us today and we’ll show you how we can help.


By Sonia Sparkes, Sales Operations Manager

Graphics by Mia Rowlinson, Lexicon Team Leader