Bad customer service is everything that fails to meet customers’ needs or expectations. And it can hurt your business by reducing your client base and decreasing overall profits. This article provides an in-depth look at bad customer experience, its repercussions for your business, and, most importantly, how to correct poor practices.
1. Amazon Customer Service and language barrier
An Amazon customer suspected that someone was trying to hack into his account and reached out to a customer service representative over live chat. Unfortunately, the customer service representative was not well-suited to resolve the issue. The representative got the customer’s name wrong and addressed him as “ma’am,” it took 5–15 minutes to respond to each message, and the whole interaction was confusing and frustrating.
The customer, who had run out of patience, eventually begged the representative to transfer him to someone else. The representative could not do this and took the customer’s phone number instead. The customer never received the phone call, but he called Amazon and eventually sorted out the issue.
To understand what exactly happened, Business Insider started a customer service chat with Amazon. They figured out a significant language barrier between the representative and the customer. Since Amazon outsources customer service representatives to India, those representatives respond to customers with pre-written scripts.
2. The gasping representative needed some air.
A lady and her bridesmaids were picking over some options at a Gasp store. Initially, they were treated well by a sales representative. However, the latter became pushy and decided the women were not there to buy anything. So she told them, “I knew this was a joke the minute you walked in!”
The salesperson was, of course, wrong. But the bride-to-be stormed out of the store immediately and sent an email complaint to the Gasp customer support department. And the response she got only boiled her blood more.
The reply in the email said that the shop aims at ‘fashion-oriented clients’ and the salesperson was ‘too good at what she does. The moral of this crazy customer support story is that every client deserves to be treated with patience and respect. It’s also vital to train your staff to adopt a customer service mindset to avoid such mishaps.
3. American Airlines rejected a Cello.
When a Cellist boarded her American Airlines flight from Miami to Chicago, she bought two seats – one for herself and one for her $30,000 Cello. It is something many musicians do and is under American Airlines’ policy. So she buckled herself and her Cello in when she got on the plane.
Soon a flight attendant told her that she would have to leave the plane because the Cello was too big and that she could take the next plane, which was going in an hour. But they did not allow her on the second flight either. She then found herself surrounded by police because the airline staff found her “not understandable.” American Airlines’ official response was tepid, referring to a little “misunderstanding.”
So her husband made a post that went viral quickly, and then American Airlines looked into it while a few hours had passed – only to realize that the instrument is allowable after all. So they booked her on a flight the next day, covering the cost of a hotel room.
4. Things get ugly at Sephora.
In October 2018, a customer took to Reddit and uncovered some of the worst customer service stories experienced at the beauty giant Sephora, horrifying, insulting, and cruel.
She stated that she was at a low point in life emotionally, which was reflected on her face, while her sister took her to Sephora to cheer her up. Instead, the sales lady straightaway told her that she looked like hell and makeup would not make her look any better. And did not even apologize later.
It does not stop there. In April 2019, the beauty giant came under fire when an American singer SZA tweeted about her experience of being racially profiled at one of Sephora’s stores.
Sephora gave a vague response that wasn’t quite an apology, which was met with hundreds of tweets from other Sephora customers sharing stories of racism, and ageism and demanding the company do better. As a result, Sephora eventually closed all of its US stores for diversity training.
5. Amazon Customer Service and the toilet paper
Imagine that you’ve ordered three cartons of toilet paper from Amazon for $88.77, and you are charged $7,455 for the shipping costs. Well, that exactly happened to an Amazon customer.
At first, the customer wasn’t too concerned since Amazon has a reputation for looking after its customers. So she complained to Amazon six times and wrote a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos. After every complaint, she received a form letter explaining that there would be no refund because the delivery was made on time and undamaged.
It wasn’t until she took the matter to a local television station that the story went viral for Amazon to take action. Two-and-a-half months later, she was finally reimbursed. Mistakes happen. We all get that. But the unwillingness of Amazon to take ownership of the issue was completely unacceptable.
6. British Airways’ Twitter feed with a schedule
This happened with a passenger who lost his baggage at British Airways. This situation is expected, but this passenger added an element of ‘action’ and took advantage of social media. He complained on Twitter, saying this airline’s customer service is horrible.
There was no answer for several hours from the airline management, so the angry client sponsored his tweet, which was seen by 76,000 people afterward. Rather than apologizing, the airline later responded with, ‘Sorry for the delay. Our Twitter feed is open from 0900-1700GMT. Please send us a direct message for further support ‘. The company didn’t apologize and made the man even angrier.
This made the man even angrier, and he replied, “How does a billion-dollar corporation have 9-5 social media support for a business that operates 24/7?”. This customer service nightmare proves that omnichannel round-the-clock support can help make customers happy and win their loyalty.
What is Bad Customer Service?
Bad customer service can be defined as when a business fails to meet customer expectations regarding service quality, response time, or overall customer experience. According to a report, the top indicators of poor customer service include:
- Long wait times.
- An automated system that makes it hard to reach a human agent.
- Having to repeat information multiple times.
People have expectations for how a company will serve them. If your customer support is not up to mark, it can spell bad news for your brand. With easy access to the internet today, it does not take long for customers to voice their complaints on social media and share their negative service experiences. The message is clear: You can’t afford to ignore these annoyances in today’s digitally connected world.
Making the customers wait too long or ignoring the customer altogether
This is one of the most common examples of bad customer service calls. In a recent survey involving 3,000 people worldwide, being made to wait on hold when calling a company was top of the list for what constitutes bad customer service. In addition, 60% of customers do not even want to stay on hold for one minute.
The prospect of being placed on hold for several minutes is enough to inspire a sense of dread in even the most upbeat caller. Hence it is vital to get your queue times down as much as possible.
Callbacks are the most effective way to tackle this poor customer service issue. This allows customers to request a call at a time that suits them or to receive a call as soon as an agent is free.
Arguing with the customer/Using inappropriate language
According to a survey, 68% of customers believe the key to good customer service is as simple as talking to a polite support agent. Using the right tone and language is just one aspect of an excellent customer service attitude. Your customers want to feel that your agents have the solution for every problem, even if they don’t.
A lack of empathy and respect toward customers makes them feel like you don’t care about them, which is an easy way to send them running to your competitors. Customers also find it frustrating if an agent knows less than them. 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.
Training agents to stay positive and approach issues with a can-do approach is essential to minimize the risk of callers ending interactions with an unpleasant experience.
Being bounced from one agent to another is one of the most familiar examples of bad customer service calls. Customers do not like being transferred from one agent to the next as it often means they have to repeat their problem several times.
Being transferred between agents increases the length of the interaction and makes the customer feel like their time is being wasted, creating one very unsatisfied customer. This implies your staff doesn’t know how to solve a problem, but it also suggests your entire structure needs work.
When a customer calls with a specific issue, be it of a complex technical nature or something a little more simple, there should be agents specializing in that area. The agent taking the call should know precisely whom to direct the customer to, rather than transfer them and hoping for the best.
It’s become common for call centers to direct customers to the company website rather than giving them the help they’ve called for. Chances are, a customer has already tried the website but could not find the answers they needed, and they decided to contact you as a final resort.
Being told to hang up and fix the problem themselves is not what your callers want to hear. You want to get through as many calls as you can, and your FAQ section could contain the solution to the caller’s pain point. However, they’ve called for a reason, and your team needs to address that.
You can easily track the agents through scorecards that are trying to refer customers to the website to speed through calls and help you avoid what makes bad customer service calls.
Untrained professionals handling customer complaints
Customers expect an agent to be on their side and apologize on behalf of your company when a product or service is at fault. They want to hear the agent say they’re sorry and acknowledge the inconvenience caused. The last thing they want is to interact with a customer service agent with a poor attitude or who doesn’t take the problem seriously.
If an agent cannot empathize with them and is running through the script with no emotional engagement, the customer might feel there’s no admission of responsibility or genuine apology. This may aggravate them enough to hang up or file a complaint.
The best way to solve this problem is by adequately training customer service agents in empathy. It might not seem like a lot, but making these interactions feel more human can go a long way to helping deescalate a tense situation, create a welcoming environment and drive success.
How bad customer experience hurts a business
Poor customer service can cause customers to churn. According to survey analysis, roughly 50%of customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad support experience. Just think: would your company survive if you lost half your buyers, effectively splitting your revenue in half? Well, the answer is obvious.
But what about the other half who choose to remain loyal? Eventually, those customers will leave after more than one disappointing service experience. So, if your customers have just two negative experiences with your support team, most of them will likely leave and go to competitors, which can have a devastating impact on your business.
Companies are setting themselves apart by delivering exceptional customer service and a fabulous brand experience. However, it is not enough to have a good product. They are offering excellent support matters even more with the shifting business practices towards e-commerce.
Today, buyers spend more time online and at home, and they’re looking to connect with you. So the stakes are higher than ever, but so is the opportunity to make a great impression.
How to turn a bad customer experience into a positive one?
9 out of 10 customers have quit a company after a bad customer service experience. On the other hand, customers who have their bad experiences fixed or turned around develop a stronger bond with the business. This heavily weighted risk vs. reward implies why the proper resources must be in place to ensure the best possible results.
- Be all ears, not all mouth – Take a few moments to listen to the complaint and see how best to handle it.
- Be composed – It is easy to get caught up in the emotion but try to keep your composure. If the issue turns personal, then get assistance from a supervisor.
- Avoid saying ‘no’ – Remember, the customer is looking for a solution, not lip service. If you tell them you can’t assist them, you will draw more of their rage.
- Provide a follow-up message – Don’t leave them hanging. Tell them an approximate time and in what manner they can expect that assistance.
It takes a lot to make customers loyal, but only one negative experience breaks their trust. These tips can help your team consistently avoid the pitfalls and create excellent customer service experiences. With a proactive approach and a powerful CRM tool to support your team, you can ensure your company is one that customers will rave about—for all the right reasons.