Customer Experience

Bad Customer Service Examples (And How to Fix Them)

We all know them. The bad customer service examples that evoke PTSD like they happened yesterday.

That time when you were accidentally disconnected five times only to have to start fresh in the queue each time.

The rude employee in the drive through who messed up your order and blamed you.

Being transferred to agent after agent who can “answer your question,” having to start over with the story each time.

And those are only the mild “fit for print” examples of the worst customer service. A search for #customerservice on TikTok will provide more colorful war stories.

No business can afford to underestimate the importance of positive customer experience (CX). Instances of bad customer service happen and can be detrimental to your business. Spotting bad customer service examples in your contact center is a first step, but the real solution is how quickly and comprehensively you fix the root causes.

We’ve curated seven of the most common examples of bad customer service and provide surefire ways to fix them—ways to turn that customer service frown upside down.

What is Bad Customer Service?

Bad customer service can be defined as when a business fails to meet the customer expectations in terms of service quality, response time, or overall customer experience.

Virtually no agent or contact center wants to deliver bad customer service. There’s myriad reasons why contact centers and agents fail to deliver less-than-stellar CX. Oftentimes, lack of resources, tools, training, outdated technology, or a combination, negatively impacts service delivery and ultimately affects customer satisfaction and retention. Sometimes the business is focused on KPIs that negatively impact experience, even when that is not the intent. Its important to understand the downstream impacts of that type of behavior.

Bad Customer Service is Bad for Business

In some cases, it is not “one strike and you’re out” when it comes to a bad customer experience. However, a recent survey shows Americans are more unhappy with the customer service they’re getting than ever. And according to a PWC customer experience survey, in the U.S., even when people love a company or product, 59 percent of customers will walk away after several bad experiences, 17 percent after just one bad experience.

Poor service negatively impacts the business in several areas:

  • Company and brand reputation
  • Customer churn or decreased customer loyalty
  • Unhappy customers tell friends, families, and colleagues about their experiences
  • Costs associated with loss of revenue, product returns, etc.
  • Negative online reviews
  • Low employee morale and higher agent turnover

7 Bad Customer Service Examples (And How To Fix Them)

Bad Example 1: Lack of Empathy

Customers expect an agent to be on their side and apologize on behalf of your company when a product or service fails to meet their expectations. They want to hear the agent say they’re sorry and acknowledge the inconvenience caused and detail how the issue will be resolved.

If a customer service rep cannot empathize with them and is running through the script with no emotional engagement, the customer might feel as if there’s no admission of responsibility or genuine apology.

Understanding and caring about customers’ needs and frustrations comes with the job in contact centers. Agents must be able to demonstrate they care about your customers’ needs and frustrations.

Not being able to show empathy through tone, communication, and other means leads to frustrated customers and worst case, lost customers.

Using the right tone and language is just one aspect of a great customer service attitude. Your loyal customers also want to feel as though your agents have the solution for every problem, even if they don’t. Customers who encounter agents saying they don’t know how to help them cannot inspire confidence and are likely to feel disillusioned with your overall service.

How To Fix

While you can’t teach empathy, contact center leaders can take measures to instill a “can do” positive approach to CX.

  1. When hiring agents, include interview questions that gauge empathy and soft skills.
  2. Make sure you set up metrics to measure how emotionally responsive and engaging your agents are.
  3. Leverage technology that empowers proactive support. Playvox’s Coaching feature enables you to offer guidance on the fly and base your review of specific customer interactions, with no need to disrupt agents’ productivity.
  4. Train agents to stay positive and approach issues with emotional intelligence to minimize the risk of customers ending interactions with an unpleasant experience.

Related: 31 Empathy Statements to Improve Your Customer Service Today

Bad Example 2: Making Customers Wait

This is one of the most common examples of a bad customer service experience. The prospect of waiting in a phone queue or for a response online for several minutes (or longer) is enough to inspire a sense of dread in even the most upbeat customer.

A Zendesk survey revealed almost one in three customers expect a response in under five minutes by phone. And live chat responses follow similar turnaround expectations, if not quicker.

In an increasingly instant culture of wanting everything yesterday, contact centers need to make sure they don’t fall prey to long wait times for response and resolution.

How To Fix

It’s vital to get your queue and response times down as much as you can. But easier said than done when you have limited customer support agents available. The solution? Again, technology to the rescue.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven solutions allow your contact center to automate your workforce management (WFM) processes, to ensure you properly staff the right agents across your omnichannel business and can measure real-time changes to reduce impact to customer experience.
  • Benchmark meaningful KPIs then set goals to improve your response time and other key metrics
  • Improve contact center processes and customer service skills through automated workflows, performance dashboards and other tools
  • Encourage customers to access omnichannel support—a win-win

Bad Example 3: Difficulty Accessing Customer Service or Support

Do you know companies who only offer support through FAQs or email? Or those that only offer inbound phone calls with long wait times as the only path to resolution?

One size does not fit all when it comes to delivering outstanding service. The goal of contact centers and their agents is to make it easy for customers to resolve their problems or get information in an effective, timely, and convenient manner.

Zendesk mentions that a whopping 86% of customers expect online self-service options. A robust self-service option for customers is the first line of defense to deflecting common requests. But it’s also critical to offer inbound phone support, should customers need to access it.

How To Fix

Modern contact centers understand that providing robust, omnichannel customer service is a must have for success. Customers want to reach you when and how they want to reach you—chat, messaging, email, website, and phone—and contact centers need to make it seamless.

  • Offer robust FAQs and knowledge library for a convenient self-service resources
  • Leverage technology to resolve issues the first time to keep support volumes down and CX up.
  • Build an environment where the right people with the right training and knowledge base are ready to help customers in any channel.

Bad Example 4: Transferring Customers from Agent to Agent

We all know this scenario too well. You reach an agent, only to be told you need to work with another department. The dreaded “Let me transfer you” happens. Sometimes multiple times.

Being bounced like a ping pong ball from one agent to another is one of the most familiar poor customer service examples. Not only does this imply your agents don’t know how to solve problems, it also suggests your entire operations needs work too.

When a customer calls with a specific issue, be it of a complex technical nature or something more simple, there should be agents who specialize in the more challenging areas of support.

How To Fix

A critical success factor in providing outstanding CX is providing first contact resolution or FCR. Customers want their problems solved or questions answered on the first try.

If frequent FCR isn’t happening in your contact center, consider auditing the current transfer call rate to uncover root causes. Is more agent training needed? Will segmentation or specialization help support more complex service requests?

Customer service teams should be empowered with proper tools and training to help customers resolve issues on the first try. Develop and enhance your knowledge base and resources available to agents to help them better resolve customer questions and complex issues.

Playvox allows you to connect your customer service variables and create KPIs to measure how often customers are being transferred and hear the effect this has on them through random call monitoring.

Bad Example 5: Asking Customers to Repeat Themselves

Being asked to give the same personal details, explain the nature of your problem, or anything else multiple times are all avoidable examples of a frustrating customer experience.

When customers are asked to repeat information it results in frustration and an unsatisfactory support experience. Customers perceive that their time isn’t being valued or the agent isn’t really listening.

Often this need to repeat is a result of multiple or disparate software systems that don’t talk to each other. Agent A collects customer information only to find out they need to transfer to Agent B. Agent B is on a different system and so the agent cringes when having to collect information again. Not to mention the frustrated customer on the other end. 

How To Fix

Contact centers should work to consolidate technology solutions and update to modern platforms that carry customer information and agent discussions through all phases of customer transactions, regardless of channel. This also allows contact center leaders to monitor for bottlenecks and strive for continuous improvement to boost customer satisfaction. 

Bad Example 6: Ignoring Customer Feedback

It’s no surprise that there’s a mismatch between customer expectations and what’s delivered on the customer service end. From the same PWC survey, “Only 38% of U.S. consumers say the employees they interact with understand their needs; 46% of consumers outside the U.S. say the same.”

While you are likely getting feedback from customers ranging from constructive to rage, other dissatisfied customers simply go away and stop doing business. As contact center leaders, are you listening to and acting upon customer feedback? Do you have the data to make impactful improvements and deliver exceptional customer service?

How To Fix

Your team has the power to turn a customer’s problem into a positive interaction that builds satisfaction and loyalty. This can sometimes feel like solving a puzzle that’s missing pieces.

Make the most from customer feedback:

  1. What does the data tell you? Analyzing and acting upon the data to improve CX can be a game changer.
  2. Take the time to measure and track customer satisfaction and customer sentiment.
  3. Follow up on negative feedback directly to turn dissatisfied experiences into happy customers. Remember that time when a manager followed up or called back? 

Monitor interactions between agents and customers. Leverage contact center solutions to proactively analyze agent interactions to look for coaching opportunities that improve customer service interactions and prevent negative customer experiences.

Bad Example 7: Displaying Rude Behavior and Bad Attitudes

Customer service agents have one of the toughest jobs out there. They’re protecting and building your company’s brand — no matter what they have to deal with from customers.

Everyone has good days and bad days. Your agents will go through times when they just cannot stand the thought of talking to another customer. It happens.

It’s the role of contact center managers to help agents remain professional and polite in every transaction–even when the customer is “challenging” or there is poor communication. The trick is to find the quickest solution for the customer’s problem and remember that there’s no need to respond with anger and go tit for tat with the customer.

How To Fix

Just like agents are protecting your company, contact center leaders and managers need to protect them and their mental health. Building a supportive work climate and modeling positive language and attitude is the first step.

Today’s contact center technology can take a lot of manual tasks and time-consuming procedures off leaders’ and managers’ plates. With more time to invest in the customer support team, they can better connect and communicate with agents to keep engagement and motivation high.

  • Deliver training not only for new hires, but provide ongoing refresher courses on best practices for handling unhappy customers.
  • Construct scorecards to measure how warm and welcoming agents are.
    • Do they greet the caller and introduce themselves by name?
    • Do they listen to the customer and identify the issue when it’s first presented?
    • Do they ask the caller if there’s anything else they can help with at the end of the interaction?
  • Coach agents on conflict resolution. Know when a supervisor needs to step in to help mediate.

Turn Bad Customer Service Examples Into Great Ones

You’ll never eliminate bad customer service examples from your contact center. Recognizing the biggest collective biggest offenses is the first step. From there, focus on the fixes—like training, coaching, technology, and data—to turn bad customer service into excellent customer service. Your customers and your bottom line will thank you. Schedule a demo today to see how using Playvox can help you boost productivity, increase customer satisfaction, and reinforce your brand reputation.

Playvox Team

Bad Customer Service Examples (And How to Fix Them) bad customer service

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