Top 5 Customer Service Fails

April 22, 2012

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Top 5 Customer Service Fails

Written By Mr.Savvy

Lets face it, we are a consumer culture and everyone spends more time than they’d like to in the customer service line. Customer service is also a fairly common practice and you probably know someone who shares their customer horror stories. I’ve had several CSR jobs, oddly enough they all have roughly the same pro-customer policies and procedures. So why is being a customer with a problem so darn difficult? Here are some glaring customer service fails that often cost companies repeat business and definitely sour customer relations.


  1. HOLD– I like how they ask if they can put you on hold. I never tried saying “no.” You just assume that the holding is a necessary part of the process to get you what you need. Instead you are often volleyed from one department to another and asked to repeat info you’ve already given several times. I always think when I get transferred that the person I am being connected to will have some sort of insight into my situation. I know it’s silly, but it is a turn off to have to give details several times to all the wrong people. Isn’t this conversation supposed to be recorded? Sometimes I’m on hold so long I just give up, or worse I get dropped. That happened to me at a Walmart when I was calling around to find a store that carried a type of exercise equipment. After holding and bouncing around departments (even “Electronics”) I eventually got hung up on. After I tried again and went through essentially the same confusion they turned out to not have what I needed.
  2. PHONE TREES– Listen for your issue and press that number. Sounds harmless enough unless they don’t account for the reason your calling. Most phone trees are like a multiple choice pop quiz by a cranky sadistic homeroom teacher. At some point as you climb the tree comes the inevitable conclusion that you will need to at some point talk to a real person and that person will need to be able to help you. Sometimes the person that finally takes your call will have to transfer you to the correct terminal. Whatever works, right? But what if you can’t get through to anyone? I had a banking experience with a credt union once where you couldn’t just press 0 to talk to an operator, you had to know some kind of code to cut through the red tape. It was great once I learned it, but to many hours of frustration had compiled to remedy the emotional scars. Oh, and lets not forget the voice activated ones, the only consolation with those is that when they fail to understand your commands, you can yell ruthlessly at the unfeeling contraption and it’s completely guilt free.
  3. SCRIPTED SERVICE– It’s so common that it is almost surprising how many people hate it, except that it is sooo annoying. Real people are almost as bad as the automated devices we are more and more often subjected to. I can’t say for sure why so many companies train their personnel this way, unless it is a theory that it will help maintain professional conduct from CSRs. What it actually does is annoy the people who are already unhappy with the companies product or service, or just need to take care of something with a minimum of hassle. The scripts are impersonal, impractical and encumbering; and they don’t fool anyone. Often a CSR will be so engrossed in the script that they fail to give the customer true individualized attention or even listen to what they say. I had a situation with a credit card account that ended in a scripted response that was unsatisfactory and inconsistent with information I had been given by my bank. When I went to the bank to speak with a human, face to face. They called on my behalf. The rep on the other end asked to speak with me and when I got the receiver, they dished out the same exact spiel. I handed the phone back and said “no.” I no longer have that account.
  4. INCOMPREHENSIBLE ENGLISH– aka foreign accents. Is it insensitive to complain? I don’t think so. After all of the other tie ups and setbacks, nobody wants their case in the hands of someone they can’t even understand. I once had a CSR whose english was so horrifically mangled it could have been a character out of Poe! The best I could do was politely decline service, hang up and try again. I lucked out and received very good service from the next rep. I guess you got to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
  5. SARCASM– or rude behavior is the most common complaint, but I also think it is the most rare. Systems and policies build tension between the customer and the rep before they are thrown into the mix together. Customers have horror tories and they are entertaining to listen to, but CSRs have their share of nightmares. Though rudeness to a customer is never acceptible it is rarely unprovoked in my opinion. Some people hate their job and just don’t care, so a shockingly inappropriate scenario takes place occasionally and the internet is full of examples, but the most glaring customer service problem I face, is the inability to fix a problem. Even if a CSR is genuine and apologetic they will often stonewall you. Whether they mean to or not they are waiting for you to give up and walk away without added compensation. While most companies train in creating solutions for customers, CSRs will often put the pressure on the customer to create their own solution and ask to be compensated. If I’m not satisfied with a product and I bring it to somebodies attention, it’s nice for them to listen and apologize, but I want them to also find away to make me happy before I walk out the door and not just like I settled. They think they got away without giving more, but I will not be returning.

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