Turning Bad Customer Experiences Into A Win

In the world we’re living in today, brands can’t afford to have bad customer experiences. In my marketing class last week, we discussed how it costs 5x more to acquire new customers than keep existing ones, and that a bad experience that a loyal customer has, could not only cost you their business, but also anyone who runs in that customer’s circles (i.e. word of mouth/social media posts).

In the last few months, there were two instances in particular that stand out to me regarding customer service and loyalty. As a customer, they were pretty rotten experiences, but the companies did right by me. Here’s what happened.

Turning Bad Customer Experiences Into A Win

Southwest Airlines

Remember back in November when I flew up to Philly for a surprise trip to visit my grandparents? It was one of the last flights out for the night (a little after 9 p.m.) but fortunately we got off the ground early. Around the time we were supposed to be landing, I felt like we were starting to circle. A few announcements later (after midnight) we got the official announcement. We were landing – only in Pittsburgh, not Philly, due to visibility issues. Upon landing, we were informed we needed to deplane and get on a new plane with a new crew since ours had timed out. When we got to the new gate, we soon learned that the “other” crew had also timed out and that nobody else would be available until first thing in the morning. So, we all set up camp at the gate to wait the few hours until our new 5:30 a.m. departure time.

At this point, nothing was open at the airport, and I was quick to point out that it’d be helpful if we could get some snacks/drinks since we were stranded (and also I hadn’t eaten dinner since I planned on grabbing a late one when we landed in Philly, #starving). A couple gate agents hung with us all night (despite it being past their shifts as well), keeping us well fed on plane snacks and drinks, reissuing boarding passes, and dealing with crazy people who were incredibly angry about the situation. It was frustrating for sure, but worse things have happened, so I sat there chatting with an elderly couple while munching on my airplane snacks.

The agents informed us that we should reach out to Southwest’s customer service team, but that we’d likely hear from them first about our rough night. Less than 24 hours later, I received an email apologizing for the bad experience and was told that I’d be receiving a voucher to make up for it within the next day or so. Sure enough, I received a $100 voucher from the airline to use for a future booking. Mind you, I snagged a great deal on the flight up at under $80, so despite it being a rough night, the flight ended up essentially being free and I now have some additional funds to use for a future flight! Just another reason why Southwest is my favorite!


This one required a little more legwork on my end, but still resulted in a happy ending. A package was sent out to me for a business opportunity, but since it required a signature, I rescheduled the delivery for a date I knew I’d be home to intercept the package. The selected date came and went and still no sign of the package. I called UPS and was directed to someone in the local center who said they messed up and that she’d “personally” keep an eye and make sure the package would get to me for the new rescheduled date.

The new date comes around and I check the tracking to make sure it’s “out for delivery.” Instead, I find that UPS sent my package BACK to the original sender instead of delivering it to me. Frustrated, I called again, only to find that despite them rerouting my package, they’d be unable to reroute it back to me. WHAT A NIGHTMARE.

Because of the mess up, I was going to miss my deadline for my business opportunity, so UPS offered to send me a check for the total amount of the revenue I’d be missing to make up for it, to not only keep my business, but also the business of the original sender. I did have no less than 12 class (not even exaggerating) with them, and had to explain my situation several times before I finally got one person on the line who gave me their direct line and totally took care of the situation. While it was an incredibly frustrating situation, I really appreciate how it was handled in the end!


Have you had a bad customer experience that was turned into a win?

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  • Airlines are the worst to get anything out of, I feel like they have the worst customer service and can get away with it! I’m glad to hear SW stepped up to the plate.

    • Absolutely! It seems like some of them are decent if you reach out via social media but nothing tops Southwest with customer service!

  • It’s good to hear when situations get corrected. I had something happen with Southwest yearsss ago, but this was before I was on Twitter and didn’t think to reach out to them via e-mail. I was coming to Cleveland and got stranded first in Orlando,then Pittsburgh…it was awful. I’m glad to hear you got things worked out!

    • Oof that doesn’t sound fun! I think companies have definitely gotten so much better recently, especially with social media!

  • I had a similar situation with Allegiant Airlines only it lasted about 12 hours longer than yours, required a hotel stay, and the new flight ended up making an emergency landing halfway through the trip due to a passenger’s heart attack on the light. It was pure craziness but Allegiant did right by us in the end.

    • Ugh that sounds miserable! I hope the passenger was ok! Glad to hear they stepped up for you though!

  • I’ve had a couple bad experiences that ended up working okay. One was recently with American Eagle. It usually takes a bit of leg work but with good companies they try to keep their customers happy!

    • So true! It seems like companies are starting to understand how important good customer service really is!

  • Southwest for the win, always. I don’t fly anything else if I can help it! Glad they both worked with you to keep your business!

    • YES! Southwest is my favorite! If I check a bag (which is rare these days), I always appreciate that you get not one but TWO free ones with them versus $50 round trip for one bag on other airlines!

  • That’s great about Southwest! I always feel so bad for the gate agents, because they are the ones who get the brunt of customers’ anger, and yet they are also the ones who aren’t making the decisions and have no control over what is happening!

    • YES! I’ve seen so many people yell at gate agents when they have zero control over the situation. I was chatting with the agent when we were stuck in Pittsburgh that night and was like yeah it sucks that we’re stranded here but what about YOU – what time were you supposed to get off? Poor thing answered the phone 2 min before she was supposed to clock out and found out she was going to have to stay until the next morning!

  • I’ve had a few bad experiences and I’ve given a few bad experiences. At the end of the day I try really hard to remember that it’s usually not the person I’m talking to’s fault.

    • So true! If I’m on the phone or in person with a worker, I make it a point to let them know, look I know it’s not your fault so sorry if it seems like I’m taking it out on you!

  • Southwest really is pretty good about customer service! Our flight to San Diego one time ended up getting delayed for four hours, and both my husband and I got $200 vouchers for our next trip. We use points mostly, but we were able to make some of our friends very happy!

    • That’s amazing! Southwest is definitely a game-changer, especially considering how rough the airline industry is in general. Everyone can definitely use a little extra travel in their life though :)

  • that’s awesome about southwest. i am sure i have had experiences that turned into a win, i just can’t think of any particulars right now. i recently had a bad experience with a company and ended up getting a refund after lots of complaining, but i’ll never use that company or go to one of their events ever again, no ifs or buts about it. it really does go to show a bad experience is more powerful than a good one.

    • That’s the worst! I’m glad they at least refunded you! Customer service is such a tough thing, but it seems like more companies are starting to understand that it needs to be a priority!

  • I’m glad both of your situations got remedied! It can be so frustrating when things like that don’t work out.

    • So true! I think companies lose out on a lot of business when situations aren’t handled properly!