Practical Communication

30 Customer Service “Fails” that Can Ruin Your Organization’s Reputation

30 Customer Service “Fails” that Can Ruin Your Organization’s Reputation

Most companies talk a lot about the importance of customer service, but the actions of their employees don’t reflect that they value customer service above all else. Before the internet, poor customer service stories spread one-to-one, meaning one person had a bad experience and shared it with others one at a time. However, in the internet age, customer service fails have the potential to go viral and can destroy an organization’s reputation and possibly put it out of business.

Awhile back, I decided to track the customer service fails I experienced in a 30 day period. My goal was to see if I would experience 30 mistakes in 30 days. In the end, I easily experienced three to four customer service fails each day. Some of them were minor and some of them were major. Had I posted them on Facebook or Tweeted about them, any of these experiences would have had the potential to spread to hundreds, if not thousands of people.

After eliminating “repeat” errors, here are the top 30 customer service fails I experienced in just 30 days. I’m not going to name the organizations, because calling them out isn’t the point of this post.

customer service failsWhat I want every reader to do is to identify the mistakes your organization is making and more importantly, what you are going to do to avoid them in the future so you maintain your reputation and ultimately your customers.

1. Not returning calls at all

2. Not returning calls when your voicemail SAYS you will (by close of business, within 24 hours, etc.)

3. Not keeping promises or commitments

4. Making promises you KNOW you can’t keep

5. Trying to justify or rationalized poor service to your customer

6. Hiring (and/or keeping) staff with bad attitudes or poor service skills

7. Blaming the customer

8. Being inaccessible to your customers

9. Responding to complaints with excuses

10. Placing “policy” before “service”

11. Waiting until after a deadline or commitment date has passed to let your customer know there’s a problem or delay

12. Not following up

13. Not treating all customers equally (cost of services, adherence to policies/procedures, etc.)

14. Failing to listen

15. Skipping basic, common courtesies such as “please,” “thank you,” etc.

16. Blaming a coworker or employee to avoid taking responsibility for a mistake

17. Poor product or service knowledge

18. Poor eye contact

19. Bringing negative personal “baggage” to work and sharing it with a customer

20. Hitting customers over the head with baggage you’ve carried over from a previous customer interaction

21. Employees socializing with each other and ignoring customers

22. Inconsistency in any aspect of business

23. Keeping callers on hold for more than 60 seconds

24. Multiple telephone transfers

25. Criticizing or reprimanding employees in front of customers

26. Calling a customer, “Hon,” “Sweetie,” or another unwanted term of endearment

27. Holding an in-depth conversation with “sir,” or “ma’am” and not bothering to ask (and use) the person’s name

28. Presuming to call a customer by his or her first name

29. Having a long voicemail greeting or an automated, multi-optioned phone answering system

30. Having a long, automated, multi-optioned phone answering system that either disconnects the call when the caller presses zero or starts the whole announcement over again

If you have any other customer service mistakes you’d like to add to this list- comment and let me know!


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