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Bad customer service and how to avoid it

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 bad customer service can be truly detrimental. So what is bad customer service and how can you avoid it?

Bad service impacts businesses

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

customer rating business on tablet giving one star review

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 report, after only one bad customer service experience, 20% of those surveyed would post an online review, 20% would complain via social media and 8% would tell friends and colleagues not to use that particular company.

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 the job more stressful and eventually leads to burnout. The resulting high employee turnover further damages a company’s image and creates additional expenses for recruiting and training of new agents.

What 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 Re​port shows that as many as 62% of companies did not respond to a customer service request, and 90% did not acknowledge or inform the customer that their 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 attempts 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 report.

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 on hold between one and three minutes, 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 have become a great source of frustration for consumers. According to Microsoft, customers ranked a representative’s lack of knowledge about their issue and having to repeat themselves as the two most frustrating aspects of customer service.

5. Lack of manners and etiquette

A single negative interaction with a service employee displaying inappropriate behavior, bad manners, and an unfriendly attitude not only leads to a poor customer experience –but also leads to churn. According to a report by New Voice Media, 42% of consumers stop supporting brands because they are put off by rude or unhelpful staff.

Bad customer service and how to avoid it

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5 Main causes of poor customer service

1. Hiring the wrong people

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

2. Lack of proper training

Untrained employees won't be able to deliver excellent service experiences. If they lack adequate product knowledge and basic customer service skills, poor customer care and decreased customer satisfaction is a given. Service reps should be aligned with company goals and equipped with the right tools to perform their job well.

3. Lack of employee engagement

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

4. Employee burnout

Whether it stems from a stressful work environment, excessive workloads, low morale or poor management – customer service employee burnouts leads to lower efficiency, lower productivity, and poor customer engagement. Even the most experienced service agents aren't able to provide great service if they suffer from a workplace burnout.

5. Misunderstanding expectations

Today’s digitally connected, tech-savvy,  highly demanding consumers want immediate, efficient, and omni-channel customer service across all touch-points. Misunderstanding customer expectations and failing to meet them inevitably causes poor customer service experiences, and creates unhappy customers spreading negative word-of-mouth.

mind map of bad customer service


 9 Bad Customer Service Quotes to Remember

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

 Vince Lombardi - American football coach, and executive in the National Football League

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

 Jan Carlzon - CEO of the SAS Group

“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 - President of Amazon

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

 Timi Nadela - Enterpraneaur, author

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

 Bob Hooey -  Author of 30+ business, leadership, and career success publications

“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 - Founder of Walmart and Sam's Club

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

 Doug Warner -  Co-Head of Weil's global Private Equity

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

 Jerry Flanagan - CEO of Jdog Brands

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

 Mark Perrault - Stockbroker, Wealth management advisor



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