Avoid Bad Customer Service
All organizational leaders intuitively want their teams to deliver good customer service. After all, the effects of good customer service is the strongest natural force sustaining a business’s success. Still, common, avoidable problems result in countless daily examples of bad customer service. It happens even in companies with the best of intentions to help customers succeed and to add value to their customer services. As with anything accomplished in any human enterprise, training is, of course, the primary solution to improving performance in customer service.
The place to start to more fully understand the problem of customer service gone wrong is to examine the particulars of poor customer service and explore some ways to improve customer service performance and reduce instances of bad service.
What Defines Bad Customer Service?
We can all share examples of bad customer service that we’ve received. But, specifically speaking, what is poor customer service? We’ve all experienced it, but what’s a poor customer service definition that clarifies the problem and leads onto a robust solution? Is it all about rude customer service? And, how is very bad customer service defined? Is it enough to just list bad customer service examples and instruct employees not to mimic those?
To identify solutions requires a clear identification of the problem to be solved. So, here’s reasonable generalized working definition of bad customer service: Poor customer service is service that does not meet the needs of a customer, or service that does not meet a customer’s expectations, or service that does not meet the organization’s service standards.
Examples of Bad Customer Service
Businesses can’t afford to dismiss their need for their customers to have a positive experience in dealing with their representatives. Bad service impacts conversion rates, customer satisfaction, retention rates, referral business, word of mouth advertising, and ultimately, profit margin. In fact, it’s estimated that bad customer service reportedly costs the economy as much as $62 billion annually.
Poor customer service examples are easy to find on any given day, in any particular spot across the consumer business sector, often even service businesses — in which service is the product — many are generating excessive customer service complaints examples. They’re familiar to all consumers: bad customer service examples in restaurant, bad customer service examples call center, bad customer service examples at retail service counters, examples of bad customer service calls, even bad customer service call recordings, and so on and on…
There are many forms of bad customer service that can constitute the bad service found in any one of the bad examples mentioned, and any one of these can damage customer relationships and cause customers to turn to competitors. Examples of bad customer service include:
- Excessive Wait Times: It is well known that customers become frustrated and unhappy and that many eventually become angry while being left waiting in anterior rooms or on hold for long periods. Yet, keeping customers holding on the phone remains one of the most frequent forms of bad service.
- Transferring Callers Multiple Times: Not only does transferring a customer multiple times imply that the service team doesn’t know how to solve a problem, but it also suggests that the entire service training and management structure of the company is dysfunctional.
- Using Discouraging Language: Customers who find themselves trying to reason with service employees who are pessimistic about what can be done to remedy a problem for them leave customers feeling bewildered and even cheated by their supplier.
- Causing Customers to Keep Repeating Themselves: When a customer service representative is not listening carefully enough to digest and retain information the customer is giving in the encounter, forcing the customer to repeat the same details multiple times instead of notating key information, people become annoyed and feel as if they’re being treated as necessary nuisances, unwanted distractions, instead of as valued customers.
- Failure to Focus on Solutions: Even the friendliest of customer service representatives who allow the problem resolution process to run off track and fail to make progress in a time-efficient manner, force busy customers to lose valuable time and even to feel rather stranded in an encounter which they have no choice but to patiently withstand. The fine line between pleasantries and too much small talk is important to recognize.
- Non-Customer-Centered Approach: These days, many customer service workers merely direct callers to the company’s website for answers to common questions, instead of taking time to answer questions for the caller. A customer who calls may have already been unsuccessful in finding the information they want on the site. Prioritizing the customer service rep’s convenience, or the rate of calls taken, over customers’ convenience and preference to speak with a live agent frustrates customers and makes it clear to them that their interests are not viewed as the priority.
- Technology Training Issues: Most modern customers have, at some point, been stuck along with a struggling service rep while a slow IT system has thwarted the best effort of the worker to complete some parts of the process. That’s a service problem for management to address. When extreme technology-related delays are due to insufficient customer service technology training, that’s also a problem for management to address.
- Displaying a Lack of Empathy: Customer service agents who stand on the letter of their protocols and stick to their scripts so rigidly that they come across as robotic, can seem devoid of any will to empathize with customers’ experience. They leave customers feeling disrespected, and in extreme cases, even feeling abused by reps who may seem to be obnoxiously resisting providing genuinely responsive, friendly, truly helpful service.
- Rudeness: Everyone has a bad day from time to time. However, adding the total number of bad days that individual members of a customer service team may have in just a year period, can equal a shocking number of times that mal-treatment of customers has been allowed. Occurrences can soon add up to severely damage a business’s service reputation and can impact customer retention rates.
Bad Customer Service Consequences
The high cost of poor customer service is well understood by business leaders, yet the negative impact of customer complaints continues to plague a surprising number of businesses. For customers of such companies, the question becomes one of how to complain effectively and get results. If customers cannot work that out for themselves, then the side effects of poor customer service can stifle business growth and, in extreme cases can even threaten the future of an organization. Such devastating consequences of poor customer service can include:
- Damaged Reputation: Today’s consumers have abundant options, usually just a few mouse clicks away, and they often take their purchasing cues from social media and personal referrals. They quickly adapt to skim past vendors with too many negative social comments and bad reviews, regardless of how high on the first Google SERP they may appear.
- Low Customer Lifetime Value: When a customer moves on to a company’s competitor due to poor customer service, all the marketing and sales investment put into capturing the initial lead, and all the passive internal marketing that has been maintained in order to generate repeat sales and referrals is out the door. The CLV drops, and along with it, the strategic planning potential around this important business performance metric.
- Employee Churn: Customers aren’t the only ones who abandon a company that becomes notorious for apparently not caring about service quality. Talented workers across all departments can become frustrated, anxious and even hopeless feeling about the security of their futures with the company when budget cuts due to service issues begin to affect their departmental goals and their paychecks.
- Loss of Profits: A company that cannot overcome persistent service quality deficiencies naturally loses current customers as well as the referral business and powerful positive word of mouth that goes with them. Worse, the unhappy customers are more likely than happy customers to share their opinions of a business they’ve spent their money with. New customer acquisition becomes more difficult too, as qualified leads become harder to attract, and closing wary prospects become more challenging, as the company’s general reputation declines.