Why turning unexpected disasters into happy memories is the key to customer satisfaction

Posted by Rant & Rave

June 27, 2019

CX-Disasters-Glasto-blog

Picture the scene: 175,000 people, knee-deep in mud, being assaulted by the sort of rain that only the Great British summertime can deliver. Throw in some sleep deprivation, long queues, and a distinct lack of access to squeaky-clean toilet facilities, and it certainly doesn’t sound like a recipe for customer satisfaction.

So why is Glastonbury one of the UK’s most beloved institutions and a stalwart of the summer festival line up – even when the weather causes havoc? It’s the stuff of memorable customer experience (CX) fantasy: hundreds of thousands of Raving brand advocates that come back for more, year after year, no matter what weather-based disasters occur.

The epic headliners are part of the magic, but they’re not the full story. In many ways, Glastonbury is a case study in how to turn unexpected disasters into happy memories. Here’s some of the key lessons you can take from its success, no matter what industry you work in.

CX-pect the unexpected 

Here’s the thing. When you really think about it, there are very few truly unexpected disasters that can occur during the customer journey. Festival organisers already know they have to plan for issues like the weather, power cuts, or a prima donna headliner flouncing out of the VIP tent 20 minutes before they’re due to rock the Pyramid Stage. Likewise, depending on your industry, there’s a number of ‘unexpected disasters’ that you could actually put contingency plans in place for.

If you’re in retail, strategise for how you’ll deal with supply chain issues, or customer complaints about service in-store. If you’re in utilities, outages are likely to be a recurring issue – and every airline should have plans in place to deal with the drama of lost baggage and missed connections. Once you’ve identified what the ‘expected’ unexpected disasters are, you can plan accordingly and put recovery loops in place.

What’s the story, CX glory?

Part of the magic of Glastonbury is its own mythology. From the first frenzied rush to buy tickets to the powerhouse closing night, it’s an end-to-end experience full of wonder, creativity and excitement.

Now, we know it’s not quite so easy to get customers excited as they might be for Stormzy or The Killers in industries like retail, finance or utilities. But every brand can harness the power of stories. Listen to your customers, work out how they feel about your brand, encourage them to share their positive stories, and ensure your frontline staff and customer service agents can be the heroes of those legends. Which leads us to our next point…

Make employees the headline act

When it comes to great CX, staff can make or break how somebody feels when their customer journey experiences a bump in the road. But you can’t just demand that your frontline agents up their game and hope for the best. Glastonbury has to keep its stars sweet to ensure the best performances – so why not make sure your staff feel just as valued?


The best customer service comes from the happiest, most engaged employees. So invest equally in employee happiness and customer satisfaction. Remember that employees need the right tools for the job, too – like a platform that can help agents to understand, interpret, and act on any customer complaints

Talk to me, like CX lovers do

The tone, communication style and all-round-vibe of festivals like Glastonbury is very ‘peace and love’. CX professionals should take inspiration from this, trying to keep conversations equally positive with proactive communication in the event of a disaster (and even before a problem occurs). The second you’re aware of a change or a problem, relay information to customers, and keep them updated throughout the customer journey.

Fail to be proactive, and customers will surely come to you – and chances are, they’ll be angry. That means the conversation starts off on the wrong foot, making it much harder to recover. With a positive, proactive approach, you can set the tone (and help customers to make alternative plans, if needed).

Deliver in-tents-ly good CX

Ensuring that hundreds of thousands of people are all happy campers in the face of the British weather is no mean feat. Admittedly, it’s also quite a niche concern – but the Glasto strategy is valid across any industry: put contingency plans in place, keep employees engaged, create a positive story and proactively communicate when anything goes wrong. Manage all of that, and you’ll be well placed to turn unexpected disasters into happy memories, wherever they occur.

Want to see how other brands are turning customers into Raving fans? Download The Big Book of Ravers for more inspiration.

Customer Experience  Self-Assessment  This interactive quiz will give you the ability to identify the areas that  you’re struggling with or need to build alignment around and will be key in  prioritising your focus. Take the quiz now 

Topics: Customer Experience

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