There are some matters that are beyond our control. No matter how hard we strive for the perfect customer experience, certain unexpected factors come into play--factors beyond the company's or brand's control, in fact. Often, what ruins one's customer experience are other customers. This sad, yet unavoidable truth has been marring customer experiences since the beginning of time. Whether someone is throwing a fit over service or arguing about pricing, there's always that one person now and then that ruins the party for the rest of us.
Being a frequent Amtrak traveler, I have encountered numerous "experience killers" on my various trips, but some stand out above the rest. Between loud cell phone calls and pungent food smells, there's always some sort of sound or air pollution, but when people begin to infiltrate my personal space, they also impact my personal experience.
This past weekend I found myself in the middle of an exceptionally uncomfortable sandwich. The woman sitting beside me showed complete disregard for her neighboring passengers. She smelt of very odorous perfume, a major "don't" when you're traveling in a small, contained space in today's world of rampant allergies. Her cell phone kept ringing loudly, which she answered at the very same decibel. And--my personal gripe--her elbows never left my side. Left with nothing to do but sit at a 45-degree angle with my nose in the opposite direction for 40 minutes, I also had to calm my claustrophobia when the woman in front of me chose to recline her seat into my lap.
Yet, while many would see this as an annoying, negative Amtrak experience, I can't help but consider my seating arrangement unfortunate at most. Overall, the Amtrak experience was pleasant as always. The conductors were friendly and accommodating, the on-board restroom was neat and tidy, and we arrived right on schedule. But as I sat staring out the window, I began to think--why should I let a couple of inconsiderate passengers tarnish my opinion of Amtrak?
The answer was simple: I shouldn't! However, when other customers find themselves in similar situations, they are very quick to badmouth and blame the company. Most businesses surely have some measure for quality control, but you can't hold them accountable for those few patrons who don't display consideration for their fellow customers. We all need to step back for a moment and determine who's really at fault. We need to separate particular encounters from our overarching experience in order to honestly assess our personal loyalties. Just as we wouldn't let one naysayer distract us from our dreams, we should never let a single cranky customer ruin our opinion of the numerous products and services at our disposal each day.