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Are You Guilty of These Customer Service Fails?

Rohan Ayyar
8 min read
Feb 15, 2019
Customer service fails

A happy customer is the beginning of a positive chain reaction leading to better sales, strong word of mouth and hopefully, recurring revenues. Indeed, cumulative data from over a decade shows that companies that are customer experience leaders outperform those that are CX laggards by a whopping 3X!

Customer experience leaders graph

We all know from experience that bad news travels fast, while good news tends to take the scenic route. Which means the more often you tick off your customers, your reputation and consequently, your revenues get pummeled soundly.

If you see your company committing any of these complete no-nos, you need to mend your ways pronto!

1. Dishing out indifferent customer service

The very reason customers call on your helpline numbers is – duh – because they need help. When you present an already hassled customer with a customer care representative who couldn’t care less, where do you think that customer’s going to take their business?

While a rude or indifferent customer service rep is a poor user experience, even a well-meaning representative who can’t solve the problem or worse, offers the wrong solution to the customer is a bad situation to be in.

The Fix:

Michael John Mathis tweet
Geek Squad services

2. Doing away with humans

Don’t you just hate listening to an unending menu of options on a customer service call and then being bounced around from one menu to another with every choice you make? When you do get to an option to speak with a human being, you’re put on hold seemingly, forever.

You’re not imagining it. This study claims that the average person will spend 43 days of their lives on hold on customer service calls. You read that right. 43 days!

Given this dire state of things, it’s not surprising to know that 82% of US consumers want more human interaction when they contact a company, according to PwC. While employing more customer care representatives to shorten the call queue can be exorbitant, there are other ways you can address this problem.

The Fix:

Monkey Builder

3. Getting salesy when they’re in pain

Anytime is a good to pitch your services to a customer, right? Wrong. Too many companies try and squeeze in a sales message edgewise wherever they can.

Fact is, there’s a time and place for everything. When a customer calls you with a problem or trying to find answers to a question that is not the time to pitch them some totally unrelated product or service you may have, just because you’ve gotten the poor soul on hold on the phone. That is a surefire way of driving the customer completely up the wall and having them hang up on you.

The Fix:

4. Leaving the trail cold

Do your customers get what they’re looking for on your website in just a few moments or are they playing hide-and-seek forever? While time spent on site is considered a positive metric, when combined with a high bounce rate, it’s indicative of a website that confuses users and does not give them the information they were seeking.

Poor website navigation can cost you money by making it more difficult for users to discover new products or find crucial information that they urgently need. Ineffective site search is another way of handicapping yourself by not offering the customer what they want quickly.

The Fix:

5. Giving a robotic touch

It’s easy to give standardized responses to customers’ questions. Before the dawn of AI, automated chat assistants operated from scripts and sounded too mechanical for customers to connect with them or take them seriously.

It’s not just the actual bots that sound like robots. Simply too many customer service representatives do the bare minimum that’s expected of them and go about their daily tasks like they’re doing everyone a favor by answering those calls.

What a wasted opportunity!

With a little bit of interest and creativity, customer care representatives can foster brand loyalty for life.

The Fix:

Warby Parker channel

The customer is all yours

I’m going to sign off with a customer care experience that’s made me consider flying with United Airlines, at least in the near future, despite their recent negative publicity. A friend was planning a family trip out of the US and was scouting around for the best flights. Her credit card earned her air miles on United, so she called them to check out flight options for her family of three and learn how she could use up her air miles in the best way.

The helpful agent first worked out every possible iteration of flights to arrive at the cheapest option possible. When it was time for her to “pay” for her flight with her miles, it turned out she was 50,000 miles short to completely cover the cost of all three tickets. She offered to buy the extra miles, only to discover that this cost more than all three tickets combined!

This story could have ended here, with her either paying for her flights with a regular credit card or simply looking elsewhere for an alternative. That is where the customer service rep saved the day for United. She offered to split the tickets into two bookings – one fully covered with miles and one paid for out of pocket. The ingenious solution helped my friend get three return air tickets for less than the price of one!

The rep then proceeded to sweeten the deal by offering my friend premium seats with a baby bassinet for her toddler at no extra charge, using freebies within her discretion. And that’s the story of how at least a few people will probably fly United for future trips!


What is your organization doing to turn your customer care department into your brand advocacy department?