3 Customer Service Failures You Probably Recognize

Today we’re doing experiment. I’m going to present three scenarios and I want you to think if they have ever happened to you.

Scenario 1:
You buy a new product— let’s say it’s a router for your home network. You follow the directions, get it all hooked up… and it doesn’t work. Frustrating, but you’re not really mad about it. This kind of thing rarely goes right on the first shot. So you find the company’s support number and call it.

Ninety minutes later you’ve navigated through seven different “Push X For…” menus, spent half an hour on hold, and talked to three people who keep claiming they can help you but clearly know even less about their product than you do. You didn’t hate this company before you bought their product, but you certainly do now.

Scenario 2:
We’ll use the same router example, but instead of calling the support number you leave a post on the company’s Facebook/Twitter. It doesn’t take long before you get an alert. Sweet! There’s a real person monitoring it that you can talk to. You check the response and find this:

“We’re so sorry you’re experiencing difficulty! Our support representatives would be happy to help you with that. The number is 1-800-HAH-HAHA.”

As irritation sets in, you wonder why they bother having someone monitor it if all they’re going to do is direct you somewhere else.

Scenario 3:
Same router. This isn’t you’re first rodeo. You’re not calling the number because you don’t have that kind of time and you know nobody on their social accounts is going to have anything useful to say. You send an email to their support department. You detail out your exact problem and everything you’ve tried to do up to this point to fix it.

Four to forty-eight hours later you receive a response. It’s full of sentences explaining how important your problem is, how very excited they are to help you, and the solution to your problem. …Only that solution is the first thing on your list of things you already tried. Did they even bother to read your email before they replied? If they were just going to fire off a useless response to get the ball out of their court, they could have at least done it sooner.

In my last post on social listening, I wrote that contact with your customers is not an entry-level responsibility. Those customer contacts you’re putting in the hands of minimum-wage, high turnover positions are KILLING your customer’s perception of your business. At every stage of my career I have heard business owners bemoaning not being able to find good customer service help when a customer contact goes wrong. While there are definitely bad employees out there, more often than not you’ve set them up for failure by delegating situations they lack both the skill-set and the experience to properly handle.

A customer with a problem is an opportunity to prove yourself. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the “The Customer is #1” slogans you keep peddling are legit. It is an opportunity to over-deliver and turn a customer with a problem into a customer for life. If your response to that opportunity is to send it to the lowest man on your totem pole, you’re not putting your money where your mouth is.

Unfortunately, most companies aren’t. Fortunately, that means it just got a little easier to stand out from the crowd.


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