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Bad Customer Service: Sign of the Times?

Updated on November 29, 2014

Be Professional At All Times

Image is not every thing, it’s the only thing. Especially when it comes to receiving good customer service.

As a customer service professional, I have pinpointed some really interesting customer service situations that scream, in my opinion, B-A-D service.

From this list I have learned how to be a better, more savvy customer service professional and at the same time a highly educated consumer. It’s given me the tools to ask the right questions, be a problem-solver and improve my craft every day.

Here’s my top ten list of customer service no-nos.

Disclaimer: These are just my experiences and opinions. I had worse moments, but these seem to repeat themselves in everyday service situations and perhaps you have experienced them as well.

1. Auto-Generated Email Reply Messages

During difficult economic times many companies seek cost effective ways to keep in contact with customers and notify them that they in fact have received correspondence, orders and, or, notifications, but many times these messages can seem monotonous and not caring. I understand the need for them and many are designed with application software, but when it comes right down to customer service it does not always serve the interest of being customer friendly.

Customer Perception: Impersonal, and at times shows you don’t care; it may save time and money for the company, but while the auto response is generated, the customer or client may be already "googling" your competitor, writing a poor review or unsubscribing from your site.

Companies should truly look into providing more customized ways of replying to customers, online, such as live online chats, social media sites or personalized auto-generated messages that show customization and personal care.

2. Do You Work Here?

When you ask a retail person in a store for help and they respond “I don’t work in this department. Sorry.” And, they actually walk away!

Customer Perception: Seriously? I see your name tag says, “Rinkie Dink Inc.,” so you obviously work here; so find someone to assist me! If not, I will never come back here and tell ten of my friends to never come here as well.

Always find your customer help. Period.

3. Please Hold--Forever!

You call a business and before you can say, “Hello,” you hear, "Please hold-- click." And there you are, a blinking light on a cold phone, helplessly, blindly, blinking away; Just like in an ocean lost at sea with the helicopter hovering over you as you scream for help and wave violently-- "I’m down here!" And then, beeeeeeep, meet Mr. Tone—Dial Tone.

Customer Perception: I never had a fighting chance to say why I even called. I was just not important enough.

Take the time to answer all calls with accuracy, courtesy, and most importantly, if you can not take the time to listen to the caller, inform the customer and take their number and say you will call them back. Simple.

4. Don't You See I Am With Someone?

You finally get an attentive sales associate to assist you, but he or she seems to be the only one there. As you sit with them to open up your new cellular phone service, he or she, is constantly interrupted by other customers.

As you sit there, patiently waiting, suddenly a demanding customer, interrupts and says he needs help. Your seemingly attentive and happy go lucky sales associate suddenly turns into the incredible hulk and growls back at the customer, “Don’t you see I am busy with my customers…I know you’ve been waiting, but I can’t help them and help you...don’t you see that I’m the only one here…you can stand there and wait or you can leave!” Yes, he actually did say that.

Customer Perception: You lost your cool, you displayed your rage and frustration at the customer and lost a sale. The image of the store is at stake and your current customers may feel uncomfortable and may no longer want to work with you.

Learn to simply say, “I’m really sorry you’ve been waiting, but I’m currently assisting these customers, but let me make a quick phone call to my Manager to get you some assistance while I complete this transaction. Apologize for the wait. And, simply tell your current customers that you will continue providing them with your service.

Never show your frustration or aggression in front of your customers.

5. Guilty of First Degree TTWW

TTWW= Talking or Texting While Working.

Talking or texting, on a cell phone, while helping a customer and actually informing the person on the phone you are at work is a customer service violation.

Customer Perception: Shows you don’t care about your job; you are obviously bored and the image of the company and your own career have just plummeted. Customers should be given your full attention at every point in their contact with you. Your personal business should not be made public during work hours. Use your breaks to answer calls and texts--not during work hours. It's rude and unprofessional.

Do not text or talk on your phone while at work. Period.

6. The Never Ending Story Issue

You have an ongoing product issue. You have now told your story to five different representatives, on the phone. For the sixth time, you are transferred, blindly, and now you have to tell the story for a seventh time. Frustrated, tired and desperate, you tell the story in a tone that screams, "I want my money back!"

Customer Perception: Vicious cycle and lack of inter-departmental communication. Please, have an auto-generated note taking, tracking system.

Get the customers phone number, just in case they get disconnected--first. And please, call them back. It will show them you care about their business and patronage.

7. Where Art Thou?

You arrive at your restaurant for your dinner reservation. The server takes your order. Shortly after, your food and drinks arrive. You are asked “Is there anything else you need?” You politely say no. For the next two hours, your drink has evaporated, you are parched with thirst and your empty plates have staged a coup on your table. You peek and point for your server to then realize that perhaps your server went home for the night.

Customer Perception: Please check in with your customers at all times. Do not leave them to get up and get their own ketchup and extra napkins from the table next to them. Our drink should be refreshed continuously and I shouldn't have to ask. Pay attention to me—your tip depends on it. In addition, I may not come back or refer your restaurant to any one else.

Do not leave your customers missing in action.

8. Table for Two-No, no table for You!

You’ve been patiently waiting for your table for two. The host tells you they are preparing your table. You can see the table being prepped. Suddenly, A "VIP" customer double kisses the host and gives them your table! Huh?

Customer Perception: Not a smart move. All customers are VIP. My money is just as good as theirs and my review on Yelp may make you or break you! Keep your word and treat your customers fairly--the new ones too.

9. I'm Closed!

You approach a very empty looking cashier station and as soon as you put your items on the conveyor belt, you hear, “My lane is closed!” Well, isn’t that interesting, just one second ago your light was flashing “next” and now you are closed?

Customer Perception: It’s just annoying, inconvenient and irresponsible. Assist the customer and then close your lane. Escort any other customer to another line. Make the appropriate preparations, beforehand, to your station indicating you are now closed. Don’t wait until the customer is already loading items. Or, simply ask another cashier to take the purchase.

I remember ringing up customers, as the lights were being turned off and the Janitor began mopping the store. And guess what? Yes, I was tired, but in the long run I learned to take care of my customer the right way.

Learn to take better ownership of your area and time to ensure you can accommodate customers even when you are preparing to complete your work hours.

10. Out of Stock--Really?

You call the store to find out if an item is in stock. They tell you they have plenty and rush you off the phone. When you get to the store and ask for the item, they tell you it’s been out of stock for three months and they are on back order for another three!

Customer Perception: How do you explain this to your son that his birthday gift is coming three months later? Be attentive to customers over the phone. They are just as important as the ones standing in front of you. Find out the facts about an items' real inventory status. This really makes the company look bad by hiring workers that do not properly provide good phone customer service. In addition, the customer could’ve been willing to find an item of equal or lesser value if you had been able to listen to their needs perhaps increasing the chances that they’d buy more from you.

Take the time to listen and if you must, take down the information and call the customer back when you have down time to help them.

Never Lose Sight Of An Opportunity To Provide The Best Customer Service

Every opportunity, with a customer, be it internal or external, is an opportunity to show your best skills. Never lose sight of this.

Every bad customer service is a good one turned inside out. Learn from it and give it your best.

Providing better customer service, on a daily basis, will only make you better and your customer happier.

Do your best. Be your best.


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    • Writerly Yours profile imageAUTHOR

      Writerly Yours 

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for commenting on my hub.

      Yes, I can relate to that as well. Hey, that's a great hub idea for you.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 

      6 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      I can relate to most of these situations. I also have a company black list, companies that I have had such negative and frustrating experiences dealing with that I just refuse to deal with them again.

    • Writerly Yours profile imageAUTHOR

      Writerly Yours 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for reading, love me!

      Attitude is a whole other hub topic lol!

    • Lovelovemeloveme profile image


      6 years ago from Cindee's Land

      haha so true! really nicely written. comical . =) lol also when they're really rude or giving attitude too . ugh!

    • Writerly Yours profile imageAUTHOR

      Writerly Yours 

      6 years ago

      Genna, thank you so much for that. I wrote it from the heArt. I was compiling this list as it would happen to me until I felt it was enough to post.

      I am a customer and a customer service professional and I try to be the best at both.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      A must read by everyone who works in the service area. Thank you!

    • Writerly Yours profile imageAUTHOR

      Writerly Yours 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub.

      Yes, it's a constant learning experience. It makes me do my job better as I know not what to do in these situations. As well as always keeping it professional.

      Thanks again.

    • Cameron Conner profile image

      Cameron Conner 

      6 years ago from Cornelius, North Carolina

      Wonderful post! I have experienced almost everyone of these at some point.

    • Writerly Yours profile imageAUTHOR

      Writerly Yours 

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for reading. I appreciate it.

      Yes, I agree.

      Constant awareness and reinforcement is necessary. That's why it's important for companies to invest in training.

    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      It's sad that you have to post this but unfortunately it is something that quite a few people would benefit from reading. I've had some of those exact things happen to me more than once. It's frustrating and I do have a company black list.

      Customer service just isn't what it used to be. That's for sure! Great hub, I really liked it.


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