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10 Ways to Handle Bad Customer Service

Updated on May 1, 2020
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David has had a variety of life experiences which he loves to share with his readers.

If this employee gave you bad customer service, how would you respond?
If this employee gave you bad customer service, how would you respond? | Source

What is Poor Customer Service?

So what exactly is bad customer service? It can be a variety of things - a waiter treating you badly, not having something done the way you need it done, or not receiving any help at all. When that happens, what exactly do you do? Do you yell and scream, or do you deal with it rationally so you can find a resolution to the issue?

This article covers the following topics to answer that very question:

  • 10 tips on how you can respond to bad customer service.
  • Some personal stories on how I handled poor customer service I had received.
  • A write-up on a couple businesses that actually encourage bad customer service.

Complaining to the manager about poor customer service can result in a quick and easy solution to the problem.
Complaining to the manager about poor customer service can result in a quick and easy solution to the problem. | Source

1. Complain to the Manager

In almost any organization there is a line of supervision. If you don't like the service you have received by an employee, politely ask to speak to the supervisor or manager. Never believe that there is no manager available. Even if a direct line of supervision is not available, there is always a way to talk to someone else in person, over the phone, or through the internet. Make all attempts to get that contact information.

This method can result in the easiest and quickest way to resolve your issue. It keeps the event fresh in everyone's mind and will sometimes create a scene in front of other customers. If that's the case, the manager will usually want to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Never make demands though. Talk about the situation and state you want it resolved in a way that is fair to you. If you push back with demands, the supervisor might be less likely to cooperate.

My Food Wasn't Prepared Properly

I want to a Roadhouse Grill with a friend of mine. His steak came out well done despite not ordering it that way, while my entire meal came out cold to the touch. It was upsetting since we ordered some expensive steaks and they were not that busy. I asked to speak to the supervisor. Not only did they remake the food for us, they discounted our bill. Even though I choose not to go there for awhile, I did eventually go back because of the positive response from the management.

Have you ever been rude to someone providing you bad customer service?

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2. Be Rude to the Person Providing Poor Customer Service

Being rude to someone providing you with poor customer service may not be the most effective solution. However, it could also freak the employee out so much they will try to resolve the situation. Now I don't mean yelling and cussing to get your way. I mean giving them attitude. Tell them they are being rude and you will treat them how they are treating you.

Like I said, this may not produce the best results. But with the right person you can make them back down. Don't expect to get far or get what you want. But it can feel good when you do it.

Don't leave a tip for bad customer service.  It sends the wrong message.
Don't leave a tip for bad customer service. It sends the wrong message. | Source

3. Don't Leave a Tip

I know I may catch a lot of flak for this one, but it has to be said. I know in some places that the customer service staff (as well as other staff who work in a business) earn part of their income based on tips. But I believe in tipping when it is earned. This counts for restaurants, getting a hair cut, food delivery, etc. Why should someone receive more money when they provide poor customer service? They shouldn't. I have to work for my paycheck and they need to work for their tip. Sure, customers can be impatient jerks. But that happens in every job. However, those people whose jobs are primarily customer service should know they need to provide good service if they want to receive their pay.

This won't be that effective unless it really causes the person to correct their customer service skills. Unfortunately, people are posting receipts online showing when no tips are being left, so you could find yourself in the limelight.

A Waitress Ignored My Table

My friend and I went out to eat at a restaurant. We sat at our table and watched as a waitress helped other tables around our own even though we had come in prior to them. After 15 minutes I had to get up and ask for a manager. Once I explained the situation the manager was apologetic. The waitress did help us right after that, but by that point we felt uncomfortable and didn't want her help. I did not leave a tip. Coincidentally, I don't go to that restaurant anymore.

Have you ever regretted not doing something about the bad customer service you received?

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4. Do Nothing When Receiving Bad Customer Service

Sometimes not doing a thing can be the best way to respond to these type of situations. Why? Because sometimes it's just not worth making a big deal about it. Sure, you received bad service, but can you work around it? Then try to do so. It may seem really hard to do this as you want some justice for yourself. But keep in mind that everyone has off days. If someone is having a bad day it can trail into every aspect of their lives, including their work. It means more to forgive than to dwell on something that won't really matter.

Larger companies know their customers will walk away if they receive bad customer service.
Larger companies know their customers will walk away if they receive bad customer service. | Source

5. Don't Return to the Place of Business

When you receive bad customer service, simply don't go back to that business. That ensures you won't be giving them any repeat business. A local business quickly realizes if they don't receive repeat customers. Larger businesses use technology to survey their customers, to see how often you shop with them, etc. They could make contact to find out why you won't shop with them again.

I've had some positive results in this, but mostly for myself. I feel better if I don't go to a business which has treated me bad before. The company may not notice, but that doesn't matter since I know I am not giving them any money.

McDonalds Provides the Worst Customer Service

I continuously receive bad service when I go to McDonalds. One time, I was there I waited 15 minutes before telling the manager they need to hire more people and I walked out. Their staff is slow, don't seem to care, and are usually unfriendly.

Using social media to voice your complaint can be very effective because your complaint can spread quickly.
Using social media to voice your complaint can be very effective because your complaint can spread quickly. | Source

6. Use Social Media to Voice Your Complaint

This is simple enough - use social media like Facebook and Twitter to air your grievances. This is the hi-tech way to spread something through word of mouth. Companies don't like this. If something goes viral it can make them look bad. I have chosen to avoid places because of something going viral. It can be very damaging.

Word of mouth is always a good thing. Online it's hard to change the story through social media since it usually maintains what the original person wrote. Even if you do it in a casual post, it can spread like crazy. Be careful with your words. If you lie, that could come back to bite you.

Do you think it's more effective to write a letter or an e-mail regarding bad customer service you receive?

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7. Write a Complaint Letter to the Company

Writing a good old fashioned complaint letter can get you far when it comes to dealing with bad customer service. I'm not talking about sending an e-mail to a generic company e-mail address. In this case, you want to sit down and write out a letter. When someone receives that letter, they will respond differently than when receiving an e-mail. A hand written letter provides physical interaction on a more personal level. Granted, you can write an e-mail and hope it will be just as effective. Sometimes it is just as good since it's also easy to forward the e-mail around an organization.

The few times I have written a complaint letter produced the best results for me, even though we are in the internet age. Just like when you speak to a manager directly, don't make demands in your complaint letter, at least none that are overboard. Not sure how to write a complaint letter? Then check out the article found here.

My Car Was Lost

I took my car to a dealership to get repaired. After a few days I called to see if it was done. Not only was it not done, but they had lost my car in the process. Eventually they found it, but the repairs were going to take longer since they had lost my car. After I received my car, I wrote a complaint letter stating I had to pay more for my rental car. Without asking, the company cut me a check to cover the rental car fees.

YouTube and other video sharing websites are a great way to show off videos of bad customer service.
YouTube and other video sharing websites are a great way to show off videos of bad customer service. | Source

8. Post a Video Online of Bad Customer Service

Video is the best way to prove that you received bad customer service. Not only can videos go viral, they can also be played through news programs if the issue is serious enough. The problem is deciding how to record your experience. If you know you will receive bad customer service, then start recording right away.

The only downside of his method is that you could make national attention and put yourself in the spotlight. But the upside is that the organization will respond to it. Just hope it's in a good way. Another downside is that video can be doctored to fit what you want or what the company wants the public to see.

Do you think websites that compile reviews are unbiased?

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9. Write an Online Review About the Business

This is the one area the internet has proven to be very effective when dealing with bad customer service. Sites like Yelp! are specifically designed to have reviews left for an organization, good or bad. Users go on to read these reviews. For this to be effective the reviews should be detailed and specific. Not only that, you should leave good reviews as well as bad ones. In other words, just be honest.

Companies hire teams of people to deal with these review sites. They try to contact customers, discredit them, or even harass them for a bad review. Companies have started to sue people that have left bad reviews with the claim that they are unfounded. So if you do leave a negative review based on the customer service, then be truthful in your statements.

A Contractor Didn't Show Up for a Job

I scheduled a contractor to come out to do some work on my house a month in advance. I took a week off from work for this. A couple days before I called to confirm what time the contractor would show up. The contractor advised he was too busy and couldn't do the job I wanted. This resulted in me joining Yelp! and leaving a review for his company stating what happened.

Sometimes you will need to sue to resolve a matter that was made worse by bad customer service.
Sometimes you will need to sue to resolve a matter that was made worse by bad customer service. | Source

10. Sue for Bad Customer Service

This can seem drastic, but can be the final step in the process when you try to resolve a situation. For example, lets say you already talked to a manager or owner and didn't get the results needed. Filing a lawsuit may be the only answer. Do this to get compensated for your losses, don't do it to try to earn a payday. Businesses don't like lawsuits because they lose money and it results in bad press. This can make a statement even if you settle out of court.

I have never done this, but from what I have seen, it can prove to be effective if you have no other option available.

How the Media Can Improve Customer Service

Would you visit a place that is purposely rude to its customers?

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Businesses That Encourage Bad Customer Service

There are two establishments I want to cover who use the selling point of bad customer service to make money - and it works!

  • Dick's Last Resort - This chain of restaurants specifically train their wait staff to be rude, annoying, and insulting towards customers. This is why people go there. The food is okay, but the prices are hiked up because of the experience of going there. Wait staff are known for throwing things at customers or charging random prices in order to give themselves a higher tip. The owners of the restaurant chain state they try to keep things "PG".
  • The Weiner's Circle - Based in Chicago, this place sells hot dogs and hamburgers. While they load them up with everything, their food isn't knowing for being good, especially for the price. However, people go there to trade insults and fight with those serving them the food. That is the real experience that brings people in. The business earns a lot of money and there is usually a crowd around the establishment.

Dick's Last Resort

The Video Below Contains Strong Language

Chicago's Weiner's Circle

Have Any Other Tips?

If you have any tips on how to deal with poor customer service, please leave them in the comment below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 David Livermore


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