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7 Examples of Common Customer Service Failures

In previous blog articles we’ve defined and explained the importance of service excellence as well as the importance of understanding the customer experience. Another way to describe excellent customer service is to talk about what it isn’t. We love this quote:

“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” – Molière  

While there are plenty of examples of companies that shine in the service excellence department, we’ve all no doubt had those not-so-delightful customer experiences, whether in person or on the phone, where the service was either lacking or downright absent. In most cases, the consistent customer complaint in poor service situations has more to do with what the company, or its representative, failed to do, than what the company did.

Here are some examples of common customer service failures:

Lack of Manners and Courtesy

One would think that a company striving for success would understand this essential cornerstone of customer service, that is, treating customers or clients with courtesy and respect, but we’ve all been in situations where we have experienced the exact opposite!

Long Waits on the Phone, in Line or in a Service Environment

Making a customer wait a long time is a form of disrespect. It demonstrates that a business does not value their customers’ time. What is more exasperating than being put on hold for a long time on the phone, having to wait in a long line, endless waiting to order a meal in restaurant, for your meal to be served, or, even worse, to receive the check?

Lack of Knowledge

One of the more aggravating customer experiences is to interact with an employee who has not been properly trained, and, therefore lacks knowledge of a company product or service. This usually means having to ask to speak with another team member or supervisor, which is not only annoying, but time-consuming.

Lack of Response or Follow-Up

Whether in a service, retail, restaurant or hospitality environment, we expect a business to promptly respond to our request. We expect a timely response to our email or voice message. We expect a business to follow-through on their commitment to us and for their customer service department to make sure that we had a pleasant experience. We’ve all been in the boat: not only was there no follow-up, we were actually ignored!

Not Resolving a Complaint

This may be one of the best examples of poor customer service. In this digital age, where, as customer service expert Chip Bell cleverly puts it “Word of mouse has replaced word of mouth” companies cannot afford to put off or ignore a customer complaint. And yet, there are still many businesses that use this “head in the sand” strategy, to their own detriment!

Lack Of Honesty or Accountability

Unfortunately, the snake oil salesmen are still out there, ready to break their promises, not honor a commitment or even worse, mislead unsuspecting customers. It is truly sickening when we discover that we have been tricked or cheated. The only reassurance is that most companies or individuals who mistreat their customers will face the consequences, or at least a reputation crisis, sooner or later. As the saying goes: “What goes around, comes around”!

Lack of Caring

What is the common underlying issue in the examples above? To sum it up: it is a lack of caring. If a company or its representatives fail to care about their customers, it is due to a lack of understanding of their customers value. They fail to perceive their customer as the source of not only their livelihood, but their well-being and success.

In previous articles, we discussed the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in customer service. Genuine caring is the basis for service excellence and needs to begin at the leadership level, and then in the way employees are treated.

More than anything else, caring, kindness and empathy should be the first quality to look for when hiring a company representative or anyone in a service role. Anyone who lacks these qualities – and we’ve all come across these types of individuals, in various walks of life – should not be working in the service sector. They will more than likely fail in providing the service a valued customer deserves. But if caring comes naturally for them, they usually excel in their role and play a very important part in their company’s positive service reputation and success.



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