Anxiety and the Customer

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This is the 69th episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast. In this episode, Tripp discusses his interactions as a customer with Apple and American Airlines. Contact me via email at if you are a new or aspiring executive for discounts to The 95 Method executive education system.
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Show Notes

Mind Your Noodles – Episode 69

Episode 69 – Anxiety and the Customer

Apple – A tragedy

The American Airlines Saga

Post Script




Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:06] Take care of the brains that take care of you with a Mind Your Noodles podcast keep you up to date on the latest neuroscience research and practices to keep your brain healthy and strategies to help your organization brain friendly.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:27] Hi, I’m Tripp Babbitt, host of the Mind Your Noodles podcast, this week in the sixty ninth episode of the Mind Your Noodles podcast, we’re going to talk or continue a conversation about this. Brain energy and we talked last week about dopamine versus cortisol.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:00:47] Where does your brain derive its energy? And if it’s from cortisol, it’s not a good thing, especially over a long period of time. And if it’s dopamine, it is a good thing. And I experienced this a couple times over the weekend and I thought I’d share these experiences because it makes you really aware of kind of what’s going on when you’re interacting with some of these companies.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:01:14] First experience was with Apple, which, by the way, I’ve just give you my opinion on it. Apple is probably one of the most arrogant companies I’ve ever had to encounter. And what they rely on is their innovative products. And they used to be very, very innovative. And and there was that arrogance associated with being innovative. You have the kind of the hot product, the new product. And even though you might have and let’s say, an iPod back in the day and a sprinkler might put two drops of water on, it wouldn’t work. The attitude was, well, you know, it’s such a great product. Who cares? Apple’s attitude and and most of the people that bought their products were that way. But that was back when Steve Jobs was alive and when they were actually innovative. I think there’s still an innovative company, but not like it used to be. And they’re certainly getting strung out by Samsung, who has come up with a number of products. And you’ve even stolen some stuff, too, from Apple, but they’re just this kind of arrogance associated with Apple. But anyway, my daughter had cracked her screen on her iPhone. And so we went to a store and we said, hey, we’ve got this phone, we have insurance on it. Can you replace it? And the guy said, well, you have to buy out that phone because it was on a lease. And then you can then you can get a new phone.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:02:53] And I thought, OK, well, we’ll buy out the phone. And they said, well, with the correct screen, it’s not going to be worth very much. You’re going to be better off going to apple care since you have insurance and get it replaced. So you take charge, you like a hundred bucks, you get a new phone.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:03:17] So we went out of the Sprint, T-Mobile, Sprint just got purchased by T-Mobile, left that store. And before we went to Apple, which was a little little bit of a drive, I thought, well, you know, I’ll just call Apple the local store and find out some information on this this phone.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:03:41] And so I called the local number, and lo and behold, it’s one of the things happened that I hate, which is they centralized and now you have this automated system where you’re supposed to speak. The problem that you’re having. And, you know, people think these things are so great, they’re awful from my perspective.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:02] They rarely get say the right thing in order to get to where you need to go. And, you know, and by the time you get to talk to an agent, you know, 10 or 15 minutes have gone by, if not more.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:18] I mean, there’s times where I’ve been on hold with different companies for maybe an hour or something like that.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:25] And you can see some of these statistics actually at our website. It’s called On Hold With and I’ve talked about this before, it’s on hold with dotcom and it lists companies and the ones that have the most complaints, the 15 worst companies. And number four is Apple number one.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:04:47] It’s easyJet, which is actually something more in Europe. Verizon was second, Virgin Media was third down Apple, then Barclays and then Comcast and Chase Bank. And the IRS is in there, too. So there’s a number of companies that have this particular issue. And lo and behold, my experience in working with organizations are the ones that have these voice systems or these menus of options that they have are some of the worst to work with, because the people who, first of all, design them of our technology folks, usually when you dig deeper and they don’t know anything about really the way that customers are thinking and these are best designed by people on the front line if you need them at all. My preference is to design them out in organizations because customers enjoy having a conversation with somebody.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:05:46] And, you know, as a company, you need to connect with people and typically with some of the measures that are out there. They don’t connect at a personal level and you don’t get a long term customer because they’re trying to get off the phone to get to the next one. So there’s no relationship being developed. And then often when these menus or voice options where you’re supposed to say what you’re looking for and have to punch in 50 things, including what your phone number is.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:06:18] And, you know, if you’re calling a bank, you may be the last four digits of your Social Security or your account number. And then when you do get to the agent, they ask the same questions and it drives you crazy.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:06:31] So these are some of the problems associated with service industry in general. And I’ve redesigned so many telecom types of apparatus, you know, within service organizations that the best option is to talk to have people talk to someone. But you’ve got to be able to design a system that’s capable of doing that. Just doing it won’t make it better. You’ll have the same problems, the same thinking that you had when when you went into it. But when I called Apple, I. I had to go through a string of things that got it wrong. I finally got frustrated. And so I wound up sending my daughter with the phone over to Apple. And that’s really the part of the story I wanted I wanted to share because I think organizations think they’re saving money by having these things and all they’re doing is frustrating the hell out of their customers. And how do you know? Well, that’s why you do the research and that’s why I built this executive education system. So you can look at your organization through a customer lens so you can start to figure out what are they seeing when they call in with a particular problem or hearing in this case? And then where? Why are we giving that response? What’s our thinking that we have and that’s the second part of the ninety five method, is then reconciling this customer lens with this thinking lens.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:07:56] So that’s that’s the first story that I wanted to share. The second one is my my daughter is moving out to Phenix, you know, it’s one hundred eighteen degree heat, but we’re going to be moving her out there in the next few weeks. And one of the things we have to drive to the U-Haul and put our stuff in it and her friends going out with her and she has a whole bunch of stuff. And so, you know, it’s a twenty five hour drive from where I live in Indiana. So we had to do is we had to book some airlines. Well, I’m leaving the following Monday morning, for instance, and taking this one way flight back to Minneapolis with with. One of our friends is the parent of the girl that is going to be sharing the apartment with me, with my daughter. And so we’re going to go out on Monday, but our wives are both going to stay a couple extra days and either help out or just take a little R and R out in Phenix.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:09:00] So we set them up. And I belong to Mariotte and I’ve stayed Marriott probably in years. How many nights I’ve stayed. And so I’m something called a lifetime titanium with Mariotte, which is a status that will eventually go away because you won’t achieve that that level anymore. But just means I stayed there a lot over the years. And so I booked our hotels and a nice resort there in Phenix for my wife and our my friend’s wife. And I had to also book the one way flight back to Indianapolis. Then on a Wednesday morning, and for whatever reason, I had to stay in there because that was what we had originally talked about. And I bought the wrong thing. And the minute I hit click purchase, I thought, oh, crap, you know, I’ve got the wrong day. I booked it for a Tuesday. It should have been for Wednesday morning. So I immediately canceled it. Well, the first message I get back is it’s a nonrefundable ticket. You won’t get you may have to call in with an agent or you have to call in with an agent. It’s nothing I could fix online. Now, these are things that companies need to fix, this type of stuff.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:10:30] If I do the wrong thing and I immediately recognize that I ought to be able to go back in and just kind of replace the ticket. But instead, now I’ve got to interact with someone. And I don’t know if you ever called an airlines before, but if you haven’t, it’s always an experience. You’re all going to be on hold. They have the the voice navigation system that I talked about with Apple. We have to go through and say a certain thing and then they give you the option to call back. And people think that’s great, too. And that’s awful because it’s never within the time frame. And by the way, I’m usually calling when it’s convenient for me not I don’t want it to be when it’s convenient for them necessarily because I’m trying to get something accomplished at that point in time. So I knew the minute that I purchased the wrong ticket here that this thing was going to be I just eaten up probably an hour or two of my time in order to get this thing resolved. So, of course, I decided to stay on hold with them.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:11:33] And I actually went to on hold with dotcom and just kind of see if I could see, you know, how long they were running. They used to run statistics like that. At least I can’t find it any more. But, you know, I knew that they said it’s a long wait, but I don’t know how long long wait is is that an hour or is that two hours? Is that 30 minutes?


Tripp Babbitt: [00:11:53] It doesn’t even tell you that type of information. But anyway, after about 20 minutes, I said, the heck with this. I’ll call back and I’ll put the information in to get a call back. And so that’s what I did. And I’m going to say maybe thirty, thirty, thirty five minutes went by an American Airlines call back. And the whole time you’re you’ve got some high anxiety going on because you don’t know whether because even in the message when when you put in that you want to change your reservation, they’re said there may be a fee of two hundred dollars. And I’m sitting here thinking, oh, God, if there’s a fire. Two hundred dollars, then it was one hundred nine dollar ticket. I’ll just go buy another ticket. You know, I’m not going to it would be less expensive that way, but I, you know, let’s give it a shot. So when I did the call back, of course, another two minutes go by when they even when they’re supposed to be ready to take your call and ask you the information that you’d already given in the previous call about what your reservation number was.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:12:56] And I got a lady that when it was helpful, she was able to change my ticket and she didn’t charge anything. She said you canceled it before it actually got ticketed. I was afraid to ask if I had if it had already ticketed, you know, what the consequences might be. But she was able to to change it gave was able to keep the same reservation number and so forth. So overall was pretty happy why she was booking stuff I was telling her about my daughter’s going out there she goes, you know, there’s one hundred and eighteen degree heat. And we kind of started to develop a little relationship until the efficiency stuff kicked in, which is OK, I’ve got. 20 to 30 minutes worth of customers in the queue, so I don’t have any time to, you know, chit chat with you anymore, and this is again, these are things that I think that organizations are missing opportunities to actually have a conversation with the customer and build longer term relationships. Over the years, I used to fly with Northwest all the time before they were purchased, and then it was Delta and United.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:14:08] Those were kind of the two that I would fly around the world with.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:14:11] But anyway, it was turned out to be an OK experience, even though it probably took me a couple hours to get all this accomplished once I hit the wrong button. And I don’t think it should have taken me two hours.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:14:27] I wonder how many people at American Airlines know that it takes two hours if I hit the wrong button. How often does it happen? These are all the questions that when you go look through the customer lens that you’re going to see and get answers to, because now all of a sudden you’re going to be looking at it from a customer perspective and you’ll know the volume of each type of interaction that you get with that organization by virtue that you’re going to learn so much about whether your organization provisions, good products and services to customers and how the customers view you. And that’s what studying the customer lens is about in my executive education program. So it’s something very few executives do. They come in with so many assumptions, whether they’re a new a new executive or an existing executive, you have you have these perspectives and they’re not always right.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:15:31] And getting good knowledge of the customer, to me is so important as a first step for anybody in an organization. But if you’re not on the front line or him been on the front line and even five years, things change and or even changing more rapidly. So I would even say within a year, a year or two, you can’t make assumptions about how phone calls come in to the organization because your tree menu and your phone system or your voice options and your phone system change, they just do people try to update them. And it depends on who’s designing those types of things. And typically in contact centers, if the people who are customer facing or are talking to customers are not the ones designing these systems because they’re supposed to be taking calls and Lord knows we don’t want their input. And that’s why when you look at the data and why I suggest you don’t use the data in your company that they look at, when you look at the frequency of calls off of a half of the technology or the software it’s collecting, the data they’re going to have. Other miscellaneous is the number one category because they didn’t design that system. Some technology whiz did. Who thinks that they know more than the people who are interacting with customers on a daily basis? It’s complete stupidity.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:16:59] I mean, it it really is. Or ignorance. I don’t know what you want to call it. I’ll leave you to make that judgment. But but those are things that that you can work on easily within your organization and fix because they are frustrating as hell to customers when they’re interacting with your organization. So just a kind of a brief review. I mean, I because I don’t deal with it. I deal with Myriad all the time. And, you know, when I booked the hotels and everything, I know if I make a mistake, it’s no big deal because I won. I’m lifetime titanium. So they’ve got that comfort level of knowing I’m an important customer to them that they would fix it. And to I online, I’m familiar enough with their online system to know how to fix things. But with American Airlines, the minute they made the mistake, the anxiety level, you know, the cortisol shooting through my body was a lot. And my wife will attest to that because I was swearing. And, you know, there’s just a high amount of anxiety when you don’t know what’s going to happen next. And these are all kind of neuroscience things that, you know, are you’re going to get triggered because you because the future isn’t clear on how to resolve the problem and you eventually resign yourself to you know, I’m going to have to call this American Airlines going to be a nightmare.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:18:24] And it was it was I mean, it was two hours granted. The lady was nice and she she helped me get to the resolution, which I thought was fair and probably even more than fair from that standpoint, but should have taken it. Two hours. You know, these are questions that I think American Airlines probably ought to answer for themselves. Anyway, I wanted to give you an example of this dopamine versus cortisol. You know, the cortisol with both Apple and American Airlines was associated with having to be on hold or knowing they’d have to go through their menu of options and their voice interaction that they have in order to come up with who you should be talking to or whether they can do it electronically because that, quote unquote, saves money. And that creates a lot of cortisol in you because it’s very frustrating. And then the second thing is when the lady was able to help me, you know, I was I was pleasantly surprised. I really thought I was going to get charged some type of fee for having to change the reservation and and there being just an absolute nightmare. So nightmare. So I thought I thought, yeah, this is OK.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:19:48] I’m I like what the resolution. I don’t think I should have had to go through two hours of this, but you got to know what your customers are thinking when they’re going through your system on this stuff. Even if it’s their mistake, you’ve got to make it easier on them and develop a long term relationship. That is it for this episode. You guys have a great week.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:20:13] The ninety five method executive education program is being released on a limited basis to aspiring and new executives for a price of three hundred dollars. You will learn during the course of this education program how to look through the customer lens, how to look through your thinking lens and then reconcile these two things so that you can look at almost any theory that comes from academia or articles or whatever innovation that you may come up with or idea that you come up with.


Tripp Babbitt: [00:20:54] And help you discern whether it’s the right thing for your organization, as well as supply you with some theories that have worked within other organizations, keeping your eyes open not to copy, but to make your organization better. So you can learn more about this education program by contacting me at trip at the ninety five method dotcom.


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