For a customer experience workshop I am conducting, I designed materials and had them printed. When I receive the envelope of printed materials, 75% of the order is missing.

Fortunately, I was in plenty of time to order and didn't need the materials right away. I can't call during opening hours because I'm participating in the annual fox hunt that day. To complete the picture for the visual thinkers: I am dressed as an orange supporter.

So I send a message to this printing giant. I include exactly the information I suspect the service person will need. The order number, that which did get delivered - my document named Handout, exactly as it says in the confirmation email - and that the other three items are missing.

Dressed entirely in orange, I walk around town in the meantime. I check my mail and read:


How annoying that things went wrong with the delivery of your order. So you have the handout, but the loose-leaf article and stickers are missing? When we have this clear then we can look at an appropriate solution.



Um, yes. This is a case of copy-paste without reading properly. Because I already indicated that only the handout was provided. And apparently it is too much trouble to write to me with my name. Not recognized and certainly not acknowledged. I quickly reply back that this is indeed true. To get the following email back:


Totally right I put it in the system for you.'

Huh! And now? What a sloppy nothing email, even with a typo. She must have put it in the system, but what does that mean for me? For the entrepreneur who needs these materials to teach CX classes?

So this is where it often goes wrong. For Madelon it is probably obvious, but for me - the customer - it is now unclear. Is my order to the printer? Will I get my materials? And when? I send a short message on chat after this, to which a colleague kindly replies that the materials will be printed.

The fox hunt was top-notch. Just stripped of orange face paint, we sit enjoying afterward over Friday afternoon drinks. Then, at 6:41 p.m., I receive the cherry on the cake email.

'Dear Sir/Madam,

Unfortunately, due to excessive traffic, we were unable to ship your order today.

By: System'

What, this system is broken! Like so many systems. As a customer, it's killing me. It reminds me of a video from Little Britain, which I translate for you for free: 'System says NO.'

It's done: customer says NO. I'm going to look for another printer.


This blog was written for CustomerFirst and published on May 2, 2023

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Nienke Bloem is often called the Customer Experience speaker in the blue dress. 

She's a global CX thought leader, educator and a global keynote speaker who inspires audiences with best practices and proven methodologies. She leads a speaking practice, a CX game company and a training business; she breathes Customer Experiences and is author of two CX books.

Her two-day Customer Experience Masterclass is known as the best program to prepare for your CCXP and she is the go-to person for CX leaders who want to advance their leadership and bring direct results from their Customer Experience transformation programs. Since 2020, she hosts a CX Leadership Masterminds program and helps leaders spice up their leadership and deliver an engaging CX Story including a solid CX Strategy. Besides, she is a modern-day pilgrim and found the parallel with leading customer centric transformations. 

With her over 20 years of corporate experience, she speaks the business language. Her keynotes and education programs in Customer Experience are inspiring and hands-on. She is one of the few Recognized Training Partners of the CXPA and it is her mission to Make Customer Experience Work and help you deliver business results.