10 Reasons Why Your Customer Service Sucks


Angry customer talking to customer supportI am lucky to know a bunch of fun and amazing people working with customer service around the world, resulting in many interesting conversations about service and no-service. We share joy and frustrations and we all talk about our dream scenarios and new technology or research. So I decided to write list of ten customer service killers ironically not from the customers point of view kind of..

1. Stuff doesn’t work

I have never ever contacted Amazon.com customer support. I am a frequent customer and have bought most of my books the past 7-8 years from Amazon.com. What can I say? Stuff works. It is easy to use, easy to order and I always get what I order. One a book release where postponed, I got an email saying it was delayed with a new delivery date. Make sure your processes work as it should. It will reduce the number of contacts.

2. “Boring tasks” trash can

“We got this challenge, we need to…” – “Customer Service can handle it” “Give it to them” – Have you ever had this conversation? Boring and time consuming tasks that nobody wants are often placed in the hands of customer service. The customer service is here to help customers, not clean up the shit from other departments.

3. Customer Service is expensive

CS do not produce anything, we spend too much on salaries. How can we cut back funds and resources? Can we cut handle time per contact? Customer service is often considered to be a cost center. I do not even want to go in on the math, but it is cheaper to prevent customers from leaving and the cost to acquiring a new customer is much higher. And of course the customer service department is expensive when stuff doesn’t work and they drown in all sorts of strange tasks.

4. Customer Service is unimportant.

5. Policy of death

“That’s not our policy” “I am sorry sir, I cannot do that” – how often have you heard a customer service rep. saying these phrases? The people capable of solving solutions are often not given the freedom to actually solve the issue. You are starting to lose valuable points, as soon as you need to escalate the matter to higher authority. Trust your staff, train them and make sure they are capable of solving the issues at hand.

6. Who shot the messenger?

Why are all these customers contacting you? Yeah, I know “stuff doesn’t work” and everybody is blaming the poor service provided. But seriously, if IT messes up your website, how can you blame customer service department? Again, why are your customers contacting you? Customer service managers need to take the wheel and place the demand on the other department leaders. “20 % of our callers are calling because of confusing information in our e-commerce store” “What are you going to do about this, webmaster, and please report back in a week, I expect these callers to disappear” – If you don’t CS-managers will be blamed for the poor response times, created by others.

7. Who decides really?

Are you trying to press your tennis balls through a garden hose? Many companies are trying to get their customers to adapt to the company, and not the other way around. Guess what, while you are busy trying to get your customers to adapt, your competition is adapting to your customers. “New technology? No, we do not need that” – well your customers is adapting fast..

8. Placing buckets

just a bucketOld roofs have a tendency to leak. It could be a good solution to place buckets around the place, but the roof will still be leaking. As times goes by you might go out of buckets and the roof might come tumbling down in your head. Make sure that you have a system that handles issues – even if the issue is solved for the customer (placing the bucket) you still might need to address the issue to the carpenters that can fix the roof. One of the reasons why we place buckets is that it is easy and fast – and provides a short term solutions.

9. Are we having any fun yet?

Who provides the best customer service? A happy smiling person or the sad depressed one that would work anywhere but here? Keeping your employees smiling is so important in a customer service department. I am willing to bet my left arm, that the best service you have gotten in your life was provided by people smiling and having a great time.

Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.
– Tony Hsieh – Zappos

10. Rush hour is 9 to 5

Alexander Kjerulf wrote “Happy hour is 9 to 5” – but in many customer service center it is more like rush hour is 9 to 5. Everything is measured from handling time, after call time, number of contacts handled and so on. If you don’t know what you are doing you might end up ignoring your customers and not allowing them time to feel heard. I have read about call centers who clocked toilet time. Talk about not understanding numbers and the effect of rewarding the fastest. Use numbers with care, and make sure you have time to fix the roof, have fun, listening to the customers, and fixing stuff that doesn’t work.


Thank you for reading – you rock!
Frode Heimen
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3 Comments on "10 Reasons Why Your Customer Service Sucks"

  1. I’ve worked before as a customer service agent, and I should say that it sucks. It’s like everyone is angry at you.

  2. All 10 reasons are important for call center calling. You’re really focused and work on call center services problems.

  3. SquawkPoint | June 8, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    Reason 11 – You never listen to what your agents tell you, they will point out a huge number of the problems you have discussed, and if you gave them the chance, they might even fix some of them
    Liked the list

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