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Author's profile photo Hansen Lieu

My Top 10 of “Not So Excellent” Customer Service

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For many of us, it’s a sad commentary that poor customer service is the rule, not the exception.  In the style of David Letterman and The Tonight Show, below is my top 10 of the “not so excellent customer service” scenarios I have seen or experienced.   I hope someday in the near future, coming up with this list won’t be so easy.  

10. Customer complained about a product issue on Twitter but get no response from the vendor/brand about the problem. Instead, he received numerous offers for replacement products from competitors or even the same vendor!  Yes, customer service via social media is still new for many brands.  But if brands are going to market and sell on social media, they also need to deliver service.  In fact, I would argue that brands need to be able to deliver customer service in order to earn the right to sell and market on this channel.  

9. Customer gets stuck in the endless loop of the IVR (interactive voice response) phone menu that he cannot get out of.  All he wants is to talk to a live person and there’s no way to do that!  Brands and companies need to give the customer a way out and the ability to talk to an agent. Perhaps this is intentional and they are using the IVR as a way to cut costs.  However, some problems cannot be solved by the IVR or other self-service options so IVR must always offer a “way out” to talk to a live person.

8. Customer Service agents who sound annoyed by customer calls and are passed around without finding a solution. “Passing the buck” is an age old tactic when difficult problems are encountered. It may not happen often, but when it does there has to be a way to escalate the issue to get to a resolution for the customer.  Avoiding the difficult problem shouldn’t be the motto for customer service reps. 

7. “Sorry, this is not our problem!” This is another good ol’ passing the buck scenario: a customer calls a vendor, who in turn tells them this isn’t their  problem; it’s someone else’s and they can’t help. This is not a good way to build customer loyalty. The bottom line is you should still try to help them with the problem even if it’s not caused by your product.  You will win another customer with your effort.

6. “Sorry, we are closed!”  This is one of my pet peeve for customer service.  Customer service needs to be available when customers need them.  For consumer products, this is a must. If you don’t have enough resources to provide 24 hour service, then you should supplement it with robust self-service options.  Just expecting customers to call during business hours is a sure way to drive away customers.

5. Having to repeat your customers name and problem every time they are transferred to another group or agent. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than having to repeatedly recite their name, ID, problem, etc. multiple times.  In this age of technology, there is really no excuse for not being able to pass customer information and context from one interaction to another.  Having a scalable customer service platform is a table stakes for all customer service organizations.

4.  Customers call in with a product problem but are told “your product warranty expired last week and we can’t service you unless you buy an extended warranty.” This is where empowered customer service reps can make a big difference.  Customer service is about doing the right thing to solve the customer problem.  Remember that customer service is part of the overall customer experience of your brand.  And doing everything by the book will not win you the love of your customers. 

3. Customer calls in with a problem; the service rep could not solve it but then tries to sell him a replacement! This is a “no-no”!  The primary objective for any customer service contact center is to help customers solve problems.  Until the problem is solved, service reps have not earned the right to make any sales offer, regardless of the situation.  I believe this happens when organizations that are focusing too much on the revenue goal for their contact center.   I agree that contact center and customer service are great channel to drive revenue.  However, it has to be done properly.  Deliver great customer service first and the rest will follow.

2. Customer waited four hours for a service appointment but the service rep did not show up. He calls to check and is told the rep could not make it and they need to reschedule to the following week — with another four-hour window! Talk about adding “insult to injury”!  This usually happens when the service provider is short on staff and the back office doesn’t have visibility in real time.  The solution is actually pretty simple.  Many scheduling optimization and mobile solutions can be utilized to solve this problem.  Doing so will not only delight your customers but also reduce your cost! 

And the number one is …


1. Customers cannot find a “customer service” link on the website or a number to call.  In other words, we “have no customer service.” This usually happens with newer companies and product-centric companies that tend forget about customer service. The bottom line is this, it doesn’t matter how well you make your product–you need to provide service!

Delivering good customer service is not difficult.  And in this age of empowered customer, it is a table stakes.  To delight customers, organizations need to be able deliver great customer service, i.e. be the provider of the “top 10” customer service.  Having the proper tool is one key ingredient to success.  SAP can help.   Check out SAP’s solutions for customer service to get started.

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      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      This blog really caught my eye, as I was going to write a rant on some recent customer experiences that I had. And your 2nd to last sentence was (in my mind) the solution - SAP could have helped!

      I'll have to see if I can publish the blog now.



      Author's profile photo Hansen Lieu
      Hansen Lieu
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for reading, Susan.  Yes, it still amazes me that we are still experiencing these "customer service".

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      Hi Hansen,

      this blog really does list all of the favourite complaints about Customer Cervice.

      The blog's pivot point was successful for me, I didn't know SAP had products for Customer Service and now I do.

      If you have time it would be nice to have a (series of) blog(s) highlighting and giving an overview of SAP's products for Customer Service.

      Back to the top ten list, there is a very useful website which lists the contact details of CEO's of big companies, for people to use when Customer Service is not working:

      I know someone in the UK who successfully used the contact details on that site as a lever to resolve a dispute with a large car manufacturer.

      All the best,