Our Waze app is usually quite accurate, but when it kept telling us there was an hour to go when we were a mile away from Legoland, I thought it had finally broken. Unfortunately, Waze was correct. With three excited daughters on their first trip to Legoland, that 60 minutes was painful and unproductive.

The disastrous customer experience didn't end there. Here are seven reasons why it failed and lessons for any company:

1. Let your customers get to you fast.

It took us nearly two hours longer than it should have to get into Legoland park. Apart from the obvious frustration, the lost revenue from what we and hundreds of other families would have spent on refreshments is ginormous. We live in a world of speed. If it weren't for the disappointment our girls would have experienced by turning around, we would never have waited it out.

2. Have an alternative when technology fails.

The hour-long wait was the result of a system failure, but we didn't find that out until we were about five minutes away from the admission booths. Legoland's alternative when technology failed was far too slow and laborious. What's your alternative?

3. Be prepared for peak traffic.

After the hour wait to get to the carpark, we had to wait another arduous 40 minutes simply to buy tickets. This could have easily been solved with a pile of iPads and a team of mobile ticket sellers. Even Target's website crashed recently when they launched a collaboration with designer Lily Pulitzer. How are you prepared for a tidal wave of customers?

4. Are you inefficient?

Asking five year old twins to wait for a carousel ride is the ultimate test in patience and distraction. We waited 25 minutes, which was made worse by watching the carousel go around with 10 empty horses every time. Employees seemed to not notice or care as frustrated children and adults alike waited unnecessarily. Does everyone on your team know and care about being efficient?

5. Unhappy employees don't make happy customers.

The happiest I saw most employees was when they saw one of their co-workers; then their faces lit up and they started laughing and joking. Most were functional at their job but didn't seem happy to be working or creating great experiences for their guests at the park. More helpful and engaged employees were much needed considering the many long lines and cranky children and adults.

6. How can you surprise and delight?

A bee stung one of my daughters, and those delivering first aid were helpful, professional, and fast to help. Nothing else surprised us or delighted us. No one spontaneously amusing kids in a queue, no unexpected entertainers, no one giving out stickers or telling jokes. What are you doing to surprise and delight your customers?

7. Make everything spotless.

Even with the drought in California, I was surprised by just how dirty some of the exhibits were. Cobwebs, mildew, and grime distracted me from some of the wonderful exhibits. Does your team focus on keeping everything spotless?

We are a Lego-obsessed family. The exhibits were incredible and our daughters loved the rides, but we were distracted by the lack of attention and care by the teams. I don't want to go back, but if I do, I will be well prepared with lots of patience. How do your customers experience your products and services? Are you delighting them or are they just tolerating you?

Published on: Jul 30, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.