Don't Let Seconds Cost You Thousands: The Real Impact of CX Drag

Corry van den Brink
Founder & CEO

This week's focus is on "CX Drag," delays in customer service responses, which can erode customer satisfaction. The story of Greg, a mall employee, illustrates how gradual response time increases led to a major crisis when an accident occurred. Early indicators of CX Drag include inconsistent service quality and errors. The costs go beyond legal repercussions, affecting brand reputation and loyalty. Solutions include automation, training, and monitoring. Proactive measures are crucial to preventing CX Drag and ensuring exceptional customer service. Next week, strategies and technologies for improvement will be discussed. Take action now to avoid customer dissatisfaction and loss.

Last week, we delved into an often-overlooked phenomenon in business: the normalization of deviance. It's a sneaky problem that can infiltrate an organization unnoticed until it's too late. This week, we're going to examine how the normalization of deviance manifests itself in customer service. Specifically, we'll explore the concept of "CX Drag" and why you should be concerned about it.

In the customer service world, the term "CX Drag" refers to any delays or friction in the customer's journey, making it less than smooth. So, what's a leading indicator that your customer service might suffer from this issue? It's the time it takes to respond to a customer inquiry or complaint.

The Standard of Exceptional Customer Service

In the age of instant gratification, customers expect quick and accurate responses. Gone are the days when a 24-hour email response time was considered swift. Today, a lapse of even a few minutes can lead to a negative customer experience. According to industry benchmarks, optimal response times are measured in seconds rather than minutes, especially for live chats and phone calls. From a psychological perspective, every second that ticks by increases the customer's level of frustration, often inversely proportional to their loyalty to your brand.

The Story of Greg: A Fictional Tale of CX Drag

The Beginning: Small Delays

Meet Greg, a diligent Guest Services Agent at Willow Grove Mall, a bustling shopping center located in a suburban neighbourhood. Greg is responsible for handling customer inquiries that come through the mall's SMS service. Initially, Greg was doing a fantastic job. He would respond within seconds, providing accurate information about store location and assistance with gift card purchases.

However, over the weeks, things began to change subtly. Greg started taking a minute or two longer to reply to messages. It wasn't a drastic change, so customers only experienced minor inconveniences. For instance, they had to wait a little longer to find out if the mall had a mother's nursing room or to receive the Wi-Fi password.

The Snowball Effect

Because no immediate disasters followed these minor delays, Greg started believing that these lags were harmless. Rationalizing that customers wouldn't mind waiting a bit longer, his response times crept from a few minutes to half an hour, and then to an hour.

Greg's assumption was wrong. While management remained blissfully unaware, the customers' frustration started mounting. Complaints weren't formally filed, but murmurings began among the shoppers.

The Breaking Point

The situation reached a breaking point one fateful Saturday afternoon when someone spilled coffee in the center court of the mall. A concerned shopper texted Greg, asking for immediate cleaning to avoid any accidents.

Greg, now accustomed to his delayed response habit, didn't address the request promptly. The result was catastrophic—a shopper slipped on the spilled coffee, fell, and sustained injuries. The mall faced a lawsuit, which cost thousands of dollars in litigation and settlements.

Identifying Early Indicators

Greg's story serves as a cautionary tale. His increasingly slow responses were an early sign of the normalization of deviance in customer service, a problem that escalated into a financial and reputational crisis for Willow Grove Mall. Besides delayed response times, other red flags could be inconsistent service quality, lack of personalization, or even erroneous information.

Quantifying the Costs of CX Drag

The costs of CX Drag are not limited to legal repercussions. The impact stretches further, tarnishing the brand and reducing customer loyalty. This decrease in reputation could take years and a considerable financial investment to rebuild.

Solutions for Preventing CX Drag

  1. Technological Tools: Automation and AI can help streamline customer interactions, flagging unusual delays and ensuring timely responses.
  2. Regular Training: Customer service teams should undergo regular training to update their skills and ensure they meet the industry standards for service quality.
  3. Monitoring and Assessment: Frequent assessments can help identify and address CX Drag before it becomes a significant issue.


In business, as in life, it's the little things that often make the most significant difference. While delays of a minute or two might seem trivial in isolation, they can serve as harbingers of more significant issues to come. As we've learned from Greg's story, what begins as an innocent lapse in judgment can snowball into a crisis, leaving in its wake financial losses, legal repercussions, and a tarnished brand reputation. These cautionary tales serve as more than just 'food for thought'—they should act as a catalyst for change.

CX Drag doesn't just cost you financially; it costs you in customer loyalty, which is a currency more valuable and harder to gain back. Once lost, it requires considerable effort and financial investment to rebuild. It's essential, then, not just to be reactive in addressing CX Drag but to be proactive in preventing it. The most successful businesses operate on a model of continuous improvement, and customer service should be no exception. Treat each interaction as an opportunity for refinement, each delay as a red flag warranting investigation, and each customer as a valued guest deserving of your utmost respect and prompt attention.

A Glimpse Into Next Week

How do you take those first, proactive steps to prevent CX Drag? Next week, we'll delve deeper into the strategies and technologies that can keep your customer service operating like a well-oiled machine. We'll discuss how to implement regular assessments, key performance indicators to track, and innovative technologies that can help you stay ahead of the curve. Let's face it—CX Drag isn't just an issue; it's an opportunity for you to distinguish your services from the competition's.

Stay tuned and get ready to transform challenges into stepping stones, making your customer service not just good, but truly exceptional.

Now's the time to scrutinize your operations, take that microscope to your customer service, and most importantly, to act. Remember, the price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake. So why wait? Act now, before a minute turns into an hour, an hour into a day, and a day into a lost customer.

The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. We'll see you next week, ready to transform your customer service from good to exceptional.

May 1, 2024