A Tale of Two Customer Success Experiences

Two customer service interactions this week have me thinking.

Even though the outcome was similar in both situations—the company resolved the problem—the experiences were dramatically different. One experience left me feeling taken care of, connected to the brand and ready to tell the world how great the company is. The other left me wondering if I was interacting with a bot or a human and deciding that, regardless of what the answer was, they were doing a really bad job.

And the ironic thing is, the company that did an awesome job is the one that I am leaving!

Here's what happened...

Calendly Knocks It Out of the Park

I signed up for Calendly, a meeting scheduling software subscription, last year and chose the annual auto-renew option. Since that time, our agency has started using even more of HubSpot Sales, which includes a meeting scheduler tool, so I no longer need Calendly.

This week, I received an email from Calendly alerting me that in four days my annual auto-renewal would hit my credit card. Because it came to my Updates folder in Gmail, which I do not check as regularly as I check my Primary folder, I did not see it before the second email came four days later. This one notified me that my credit card had been charged.

On the receipt was a note that said to email team@calendly.com or to call the 800 number with any questions. (As a side note, love the “team@” email, it feels like real people.)

Even though I was skeptical about requesting a refund of the renewal – after all, I signed up for auto-renewal, I ignored their reminder that the charge was coming, and I had tried unsuccessfully to cancel auto renewals in the past with other firms – I decided to email Calendly.

I simply sent, with a subject line of Please Cancel, the following: “I am not using Calendly anymore - please cancel and refund this auto renewal.” This email went out at 6:51 pm on Wednesday. I actually emailed a copy to myself, because I was expecting no reply and figured I would have to follow up with a call to the 800 line.

I should not have worried.

At 8:21 am the next morning, I received this email from Grayson Berger at Calendly.

Customer Success Experiences: Positive Example

Wow, thanks Grayson!

I love so much about this email...

  • The email is from a real person—I can even see his face!

  • Grayson replies in a reasonable time frame, and I am not alone in appreciating a fast reply.
According to Benchmark Portal, an organization that trains, certifies and assesses contact centers: “The handful of companies that respond promptly and accurately to customer emails increase trust in their brand, bolster customer satisfaction, and boost sales both online and offline.” 
  • He calls me by name, creating a connection.

  • Grayson says he is happy to help.

  • He takes ownership of the issue and resourcefully resolves it.

Exhibiting friendliness and taking charge go a long way, not just for Calendly, but for all of us. “68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.” Source: American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer

  • He asks if they could have done anything better and what we will do going forward. These are perfectly fair questions, and he asks them in the spirit of Calendly gaining knowledge and doing better. And he thanks me in advance for any response I can give.

  • He signs off with a warm, friendly, on-brand “Happy scheduling!” This reinforces Calendly’s messaging.

I replied to Grayson – how could I not? After sharing that we have moved to another platform, he answered that he completely understood, hoped our paths crossed again and wished me a good rest of the week. There was no more selling, just a positive note.

Because I felt so good about this interaction, I wanted to tell Grayson what a great job he did. I emailed him to close things out:

“Thanks so much - excellent response and great service! I really loved Calendly while I was using it and highly recommend it. Really appreciate you being so responsive. Have a great Thursday!”

And here is what I got back:

Emma Stone Thumbs Up Gif

This whole interaction took about 90 seconds but needless to say, Grayson and Calendly made my day. When I got the email asking me to rate my experience, I quickly gave 5 stars and a recommendation that Grayson get the highest reward for his service. And I also committed to share the story.

Global Workspace Company Falls Flat

The same day, I received an email notice that we had an invoice from a global workspace firm we use to hold client meetings. The invoice was for a meeting that we had cancelled ahead of time, so we should not have had a charge on our account.

I sent an email: “We had cancelled this meeting. Can the invoice on our account be deleted? Thanks.”

This was the reply:

Customer Success Experiences: Negative Example


Did a person even write this email? Or is a bot auto responding? Either way, this engagement needs serious work. Especially on the heels of my Calendly interaction, I was left very unimpressed.

I dislike so much about this email...

  • No greeting or personalization.

  • Grammatically incorrect, no punctuation.

  • The email takes no ownership of the issue, it falls back on “the system” and admits powerlessness - “I can’t delete it.”

  • It only vaguely assures me the problem may be solved. I have no clarity or confidence.

  • No sign off, I have no idea who I am engaging with.

For all the reasons Calendly’s email thread was delightful, this one is terrible!

I thought briefly of cancelling my account. But after a few seconds of consideration, I decided to move on to other things. A packed schedule and more pressing priorities won out over the work of cancelling the account and finding a new provider.

These two experiences left me thinking about our agency, our customers and all the interactions we have each day.

How Do Your Customers Feel after an Interaction with You?

The customer experience is everything. Derek Sivers of CD Baby even says, "Customer service is the new marketing." If you’re not convinced, check out this great curation of current customer service stats, data and facts and then ask yourself:

  • Are your customer experiences engaging, personal and helpful? Online, on the phone, in person?

  • Or are they automatic and tied into your system? How committed is your whole team—from the C-Suite to the front lines—to solving problems proactively and generously?

I am asking myself these questions. Because I know I want our customers to feel like Calendly made me feel.

For more customer success insights, tips and best practices, check out our Ultimate Guide here!

The Ultimate Guide to Harnessing the Power of Customer Success

Maureen Condon | PMG Principal
About the Author
Maureen Condon, PMG Principal

Before Maureen Condon became one of the Principals of PMG in 2006, she was a writer and a business owner – which explains why she specializes in content marketing and strategy. Covering topics that will help businesses get real, measured results from marketing – success you can see in numbers – Maureen likes to back companies in their efforts to create a strategy, a compelling message, and programs that connect with prospects, clients and influencers in ways that drive sales. And she does so, with panache!