4 challenges for building customer connection in the CX world

In August 2018, music student Jingjing Hu had boarded an American Airlines flight from Miami to Chicago when she got a tap on the shoulder. Despite booking an extra seat for her $30,000 cello and having flown with it beside her on the same airline a few days earlier, she was told to get off the plane because the instrument was “too big” for the aircraft. No one had said a word as she checked in, passed through security and boarded the plane carrying a cello, but now she was being kicked off her flight and told to board another plane leaving an hour later.
4 challenges for building customer connection in the CX world | Probe CX

Worse was to come when the next plane’s crew would not let Jingjing fly either and airport police got involved when she became upset. And the worst part? She was right all along. The airline’s policies did allow her to fly with the instrument and after her story went viral and earned media attention1, American Airlines issued an apology for the “miscommunication.”

We share this story to reinforce how quickly things can turn south for organisations when they drop the ball on customer experience (CX). By not knowing their own policies and protocols, the American Airlines staff involved in Jingjing’s case did more than cause distress for one customer. They inspired a myriad of negative headlines that continue to reverberate almost five years later through case studies such as this.

P_Web_5 ways to emotionally connect with customers (1)

No one is saying customer experience is easy. There are countless challenges that can prevent brands from connecting with customers and that is why it is crucial that efforts are made to identify and overcome them. With studies showing 96% of consumers believe customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand2 and 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience3, it has never been more important for companies to know the obstacles that can stand in the way of forming all-important connections with the people they serve.

Four challenges for CX success

Not understanding your customers

Great CX is all about the customer, which is why it is surprising how many businesses fail to gain a true understanding of how they interact with their businesses from start to finish. This is often because they become overly fixated on the product or service they are delivering and lose sight of the people they are creating it for. The goal of any CX team is to offer seamless customer experience and that requires an understanding of who their customers are, what they want, where they are and how they want to engage.

Our handy hint: map out every aspect of the customer journey to provide your team with a visual representation of how the people you serve interact with and experience your business. By being across all touchpoints including in-store, websites, social media and so on, you can identify what areas best support exceptional CX and those that need improvement.

Disgruntled customers

It is a fact of business life that customers will occasionally be disappointed, angry or downright furious. The challenge is how you deal with them. Take the wrong path and there is every chance in the modern world that your response will soon find itself going viral across social media, especially if there is ‘incriminating’ video or audio. Conversely, handle the complaint with grace and good intentions and there is every chance your outraged customer may soon morph into one of your biggest advocates.

Our handy hint: remember an angry customer is almost always frustrated with a product or the company itself … not you. Do not take their criticism or attack personally. Empathy is a great tool (put yourself in their shoes) and concentrate on the facts as opposed to the emotion. Many people just want to know they have been heard.

Poorly trained staff

Global analytics firm Gallup found companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%4. No prizes for guessing how those with poorly trained staff rate with customers. The path to great CX requires an investment in the people being asked to deliver it and that includes providing them with the skills and knowledge to perform to their potential. This is reinforced by a survey of 2,000 CX professionals that revealed lack of training is the biggest obstacle that keeps companies from reaching their CX goals5.

Our handy hint: too many employers make the mistake of assuming staff know the basics when it comes to optimising customer experience. Ensure recruits are on the same page from day one by putting CX at the forefront of their thinking and giving them the lessons and tools they need to connect with customers. Also, empower them to find creative solutions to customer problems.

P_Web_Consumers who experience a bad service do the following (1)Source: 12 Amazing CRM Charts You Don’t Want To Miss (superoffice.com)

Inadequate technology

This should go without saying but technology is a key driver of quality customer experience in the modern world. From online sales portals and contact centre solutions to internal tools that boost employee productivity, deploying cutting-edge technologies to help customers access seamless service should factor in every CX strategy. With the right systems in place, concerns and issues can be solved faster, more accurately and to the greater satisfaction of both customers and employees.

Our handy hint: when implementing technology, set a timeline for checking how it has affected customer experience. Companies that set-and-forget run the risk of not realising the true impact on customers until complaints start rolling in. Customer surveys or informal conversations are a great way to learn if new technologies are proving beneficial or an unexpected distraction.


Consumer expectations are forever changing but one thing that will always remain the same is the benefit of forming positive connections with customers. There will be challenges on any CX journey and the key is to instill a culture that sees team members tackle them with agility and creative thinking as opposed to frustration and fear.

It is one thing to know the importance of customer-centricity and another to stay ahead of the curve. Discover four customer-centric trends set to foster happier consumers and deliver business success.


[1] American Airlines passenger kicked off flight after buying cello seat (usatoday.com)
[2] info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/EN-CNTNT-Report-DynService-2017-global-state-customer-service-en-au.pdf
[3] 32 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2023 (superoffice.com)
[4] Connect employee engagement with performance - Gallup
[5] Customer Experience Trends and Stats (hotjar.com)

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