What Makes Poor/Bad Customer Service?

With the abundance and availability of similar products in the market, customer service has emerged as the real brand differentiator for industries in both B2C and B2B sectors. A business that wants to thrive today must focus on delivering customer satisfaction, as the consequences of poor customer service can be truly detrimental.


With the abundance and availability of similar products in the market, customer service has emerged as the real brand differentiator for industries in both B2C and B2B sectors. A business that wants to thrive today must focus on delivering customer satisfaction, as the consequences of poor customer service can be truly detrimental. So what makes bad customer service and how to avoid it?

Impact of Bad Customer Service on a Business

Ignoring customers’ needs and providing bad service experience ultimately results in losing customers to the competition which is a serious damage to any business. The Microsoft 2018 State of Global Customer Service survey revealed that 61% of consumers have actually switched brands due to poor customer service. Consequently, it leads to lost revenue and profits. The NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 ‘Serial Switchers’ report estimated that poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion a year.

Companies failing to deliver quality customer service are at risk of losing not only current customers, but also potential ones. Negative word-of-mouth can have a disastrous impact on a company's online reputation causing would-be buyers to look elsewhere. According to the same NewVoiceMedia’s report, following bad customer service experience 20% of the surveyed consumers would post an online review, 20% would complain via social media and 8% would tell friends/ colleagues not to use that particular company.

In fact, poor customer service affects all aspects of a business. It can also contribute to the loss of frontline employees. Having to deal with dissatisfied customers on a daily basis makes their job more stressful and eventually leads to burnout. The resulting high employee turnover further damages a company’s image and creates additional expenses due to the need of recruiting and training of new agents.

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Bad Customer Service Experience Examples to Avoid

1. Ignoring service requests

Completely ignoring service requests is the worst customer service mistake made by a huge number of businesses. The Customer Service Benchmark Report 2018 by SuperOffice found that as many as 62% of companies did not respond to a customer service request, and 90% did not acknowledge or inform the customer an email has been received.

2. Not resolving an issue

Not resolving a service issue during first contact or not being able to do it at all is another major pain point for consumers. 62% of respondents reported needing to make multiple contacts to resolve their most recent customer service need, while almost one in ten consumers indicated their problem was never resolved, as stated in the Northridge Group State of Customer Service Experience 2018 research.

3. Long wait times

Consumers hate being put on hold and having to wait for a long time when they reach out for support. The Genesys State of Customer Experience research showed that nearly half of consumers are willing to wait only between one and three minutes on hold for customer service, 30% are willing to wait between three and five minutes, and only slightly more than 10% are willing to wait over five minutes.

4. Poor employee knowledge

Unknowledgeable customer service agents become a great source of frustration for consumers. In Microsoft 2018 State of Global Customer Service survey customers ranked a representative’s lack of knowledge about their issue and having to repeat themselves as the two most frustrating aspects of a bad customer service experience.

5. Lack of manners and etiquette

A single negative interaction with a service employee displaying inappropriate behavior, bad manners and unfriendly attitude not only leads to poor customer experience – it can also easily turn off a customer from a brand for good. According to the New Voice Media’s report, 42% of consumers switch because they are put off by rude or unhelpful staff.

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5 Main Causes of Poor Customer Service

Not hiring the right people

The quality of customer service provided by a company largely depends on the people that are hired for this job. Therefore, not having the right employees on board is the number one reason of poor customer care. Apart from qualification, relevant experience and skills, service agents should also have the right attitude, mindset and natural passion for helping people.

Lack of proper training

Untrained employees are obviously not able to deliver excellent service experience. If they lack adequate product knowledge and at least basic customer service skills – poor customer care and decreased customer satisfaction are guaranteed. Service reps should also be fully informed about company goals and equipped with the right tools to perform their job well.

Lack of employee engagement

Very often, poor customer care is caused by lack of effort from customer service agents which results from lack of employee engagement and poor motivation. Disengaged frontline employees are less enthusiastic and are not likely to create emotional connections with customers and go the extra mile to deliver outstanding service.

Customer service employee burnout

Whether it stems from a stressful work environment, excessive workloads, low morale or poor management – customer service employee burnout leads to lower efficiency, lower productivity and poor customer engagement. Even the most experienced service agents are hardly able to provide great service if they suffer from burnout in the workplace.

Not understanding customer expectations

Today’s digital, connected, tech-savvy and highly demanding consumers want immediate, efficient, omnichannel and seamless customer service across all touchpoints. Not clearly understanding customer expectations and, therefore, failing to meet them inevitably causes poor customer service experience and creates unhappy customers spreading negative word-of-mouth.


 10 Bad Customer Service Quotes to Remember

“It takes months to find a customer… seconds to lose one.”

Vince Lombardi

“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.”

Jan Carlzon

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.”

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000.”

Jeff Bezos

“News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.”

Timi Nadela

“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”

Bob Hooey

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton

“In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”

Doug Warner

“Customers are like teeth. If you don’t take care of them they go away one by one until there are none.”

Jerry Flanagan

“If the shopper feels like it was poor service, then it was poor service. We are in the customer perception business.”

Mark Perrault



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