10 Bad Customer Service Examples

Customer service is one of the most important parts of running a business, and it can make or break your brand. But many companies don’t put enough time and attention into it.

Poor customer support can lead to lost customers, negative reviews, and low morale among your employees – all of which can have a huge impact on your business’s growth.

But what exactly constitutes bad customer service? Does it have to be obvious and over-the-top to be considered bad? Or is something so subtle that you don’t even notice until it’s too late?

The truth is, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to a terrible customer experience, and there are even more things that can be done to avoid them!

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the worst customer service examples out there and examine what went wrong so that you can learn from their mistakes.

Why are bad customer service practices so detrimental to your business?

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According to a survey by Qualtrics and ServiceNow, 80% of customers said they had abandoned a brand after having a negative experience. And it gets worse: 44% of those people said they’d switch after only one bad interaction.

This is a big deal for businesses because we’re talking about a lot of customers who might stop giving you money, and there’s no good reason for them to do it except that you’ve been bad at being nice to them.

It’s also not surprising that the companies that do best at providing great customer experiences are ones that have an excellent understanding of what their customers want, how to meet their needs, and how to keep them coming back for more.

In fact, according to Forbes, 58% of consumers are willing to pay more for better customer support.

This proves that bad customer service practices can have a significant impact on your business’s reputation and bottom line. Not only will you lose customers who may never come back, but you’ll also be damaging your reputation among those who remain.

That means if you want to grow your business, you need to make sure that your customers are happy, and that means putting in the effort to provide them with excellent support every step of the way.

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Bad Customer Service Examples

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1. Being rude or condescending

The most common and frustrating example of this is when businesses treat the issue or problem like a crime committed against them and not an issue or problem with their company or product.

Instead of asking what can be done to make the customer happy, they assume it’s up to them to figure out what they did wrong. They might also assume that they know why they’re calling, and act like they’re doing them a favor by answering their question.

You have to keep in mind there’s no way to win them over by being condescending or dismissive.

For example, if someone comes in upset that their package was delayed, don’t just say “Well, that sucks.” or, “There was nothing wrong with your order.” Instead, try saying something like “I’m sorry that happened. Let me check it for you.”

Or if someone says they were charged more than they expected, try saying “I understand how frustrating that must be.”

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The point is: treat people like human beings who deserve respect and understanding, even if they aren’t being respectful or understanding themselves!

A good way of avoiding this bad practice is to make sure you listen carefully to what your customers say, and then acknowledge their feelings by agreeing with them in some way (even if you don’t completely agree).

As long as you’re able to maintain a respectful tone and keep yourself from getting defensive, you should be able to diffuse whatever situation may have caused the anger and hopefully come away with an understanding of how to do better next time.

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2. Giving excuses vs taking responsibility

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The biggest turn-off for customers is when they feel like they’re being treated as an inconvenience.

If you think about it, that’s what most excuses are. Excuses are just a way to remove blame and transfer the responsibility to someone else; they’re a way to disguise irresponsibility and shift focus away from what needs to be done.

Think of answers like: “There’s nothing I can do,” “It’s your fault for not calling sooner,” or “This isn’t my department.”

When businesses say things like this, customers feel like their issues aren’t being taken seriously. And they’re not just failing to fix their issue, they’re creating a new one. The customer feels like they’ve wasted their time and money on something that doesn’t work for them.

A good way to avoid this is by taking responsibility for your mistakes, apologizing sincerely, and moving on with a solution in mind (or at least a plan of action).

For example, if someone wants to cancel their subscription but is having trouble doing so online, be direct and engage in active listening by asking questions like “What seems to be going wrong?” or “Have you tried this before?”

When you show concern for their experience with your product or service, they’ll feel that their problem matters to you and they’ll be more likely to stick around long enough for you to help them out with it.

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3. Not responding to customers at all

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It sounds like a no-brainer, but not responding to customers is a bad customer service example that happens all too often. Whether the company doesn’t have enough staff, doesn’t have a qualified person answering the phones, or even if they just don’t care about their customers, these companies are making a huge mistake.

When customers don’t get a quick response (or any response) from a company that they have done business with, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.

They’ll post negative reviews on websites like Yelp! and Google+ Local and spread the word about your bad practices through social media. It can also leave them feeling disillusioned by your lack of respect for their time, which does nothing to instill confidence in your brand.

For example, Comcast was in the news recently because they weren’t responding to their customers in LA who lost their Internet connection during the Santa Ana winds.

Two days passed with no response from Comcast, and they started getting a lot of complaints on Twitter and Facebook. The company replied to these complaints with automated messages essentially saying “Sorry but we can’t help you,” which ended up with lots of customers becoming frustrated and going away.

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The best way to avoid this kind of situation is to make sure that you have a way to track all your customers’ questions so that they don’t fall through the cracks.

When possible, try answering emails within 24 hours or less so they know they’re important. And if you can’t do that, get an automated system for responding quickly every time someone makes a comment or complaint online, such as a chatbot they can use to get in touch with you anytime.

Also, if you don’t know the answer or need more information from the customer, let them know and tell them when you expect to have an answer for them (e.g., “I’ll get back to you on this within 24 hours”).

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4. Being inflexible and rigid about policies

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A good example of this situation is when a company has a policy that says they won’t give refunds, but then they find out that the customer has a legitimate reason for wanting one.

Maybe the item got damaged in transit, or maybe it arrived late and there’s no way to use it for the event they bought it for. Anyway, the customer rep refuses to acknowledge the situation.

This is a terrible customer service practice because it shows that the company cares more about following its policy than making sure their customers are happy. They’ve lost this customer forever because of their unwillingness to bend the rules just enough so that they would be satisfied with the outcome.

The solution is simple: make exceptions when possible, even if it means bending your own rules a little bit. But if your customer asks something that relies on a policy you can’t just change, be sure to tell them why. Don’t just say “no” and leave it at that.

Explain to your customers why the policy exists and how it benefits them as well as you. That way, they’ll understand where you’re coming from and will hopefully be more willing to accept your answer.

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5. Overpromising and under-delivering

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When it comes to customer service, you want to be as clear and straightforward as possible – and that means avoiding overpromising.

For example, if you promise someone that they’ll have their product by a certain date, and then they don’t get it until two days later, you’ll leave your customers feeling frustrated and disappointed.

To avoid this problem, you have to be realistic about how long it’ll take for your company to fulfill orders or complete projects

Also, always be honest about any issues with your product or service. Don’t try to sugarcoat things or tell customers what they want to hear. Tell them exactly what’s going on so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to continue buying from you.

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6. Having inadequate support channels

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If you’re not ensuring that your customers have access to the support channels they need, you’re basically running the risk of alienating them.

This is especially true in fields where there’s a lot of technical jargon and knowledge that customers need to know to be able to use the product, like with computer software.

If you’re using a new piece of software and you hit a problem, it’s helpful if there’s an easy way for you to ask questions about how to resolve that issue. In fact, it’s downright necessary.

A great example of this is when a customer facing a technical problem with their device reaches out on Twitter, only to be told to call or email in order to get help. If they don’t have access to an email address or phone number, they might just give up and never come back.

Not only that, but if they’re asking questions on social media because they don’t want their personal information shared with anyone else, this method could also cause problems later down the line when your company needs to use those same channels for marketing purposes (for example).

The bottom line here is that if you want to ensure good customer service practices at your company, make sure that all of the support channels are available on every platform where customers might reach out, and provide an easy way for them to get in touch with someone directly if needed!

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7. Handling customers from one agent to another

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When you transfer a customer from one employee to another, you’re essentially saying, “We don’t care about this conversation enough to keep it in one place.”

It implies that you think your customer isn’t important enough for you to follow through with the help they need, so they have to start over and explain everything all over again.

The new agent might not be familiar with their case and will have to spend time looking up details, which will make them frustrated and less likely to stick around as a customer.

What are some specific examples of this?

The most obvious one is when someone calls customer service, and they get transferred from one department to another and so on, until they give up and hang up or go online because they’re sick of talking to someone who can’t help them.

Another example is when a supervisor is unavailable, so the customer service rep tells the customer something like “I’m not the right person to talk to about that.”

Then, they give them their manager’s name and number, but explain he’s in a meeting right now and ask if they can take their number down to have him call back later.

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The best way businesses can avoid this is by training their agents on how to handle different situations. This will make it so that instead of wasting time transferring a customer back and forth between agents, they can immediately get started on resolving the issue or answering questions.

It also increases productivity. When you have a support team that knows what it’s doing and works well together, they are going to be able to answer more tickets in less time.

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8. Neglecting to follow up

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This is one of the most common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to customer service.

When people don’t hear back from you after they’ve dealt with your company, they feel like they’re not important to you.

This is especially true when their inquiry or complaint is time-sensitive. People will start wondering if they’ve been ignored or forgotten about and may even begin doubting the quality of your services.

Proactive follow-up is an essential skill for customer service workers because it shows customers that you’re paying attention, and it can prevent them from leaving unhappy. Even if you can’t resolve an issue right away, it’s important to acknowledge concerns and let your customers know when you’ll be able to respond.

A good policy is always to respond within 24 hours of getting a message or email – and ideally, even sooner than that!

If your business has a large volume of messages coming in and can’t guarantee this kind of response time, it may be a good idea to set up an auto-responder so that they know someone has received their message and will get back to them soon.

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9. Making your customers wait too long

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Leaving customers waiting for an extended period of time is a really bad idea. The more you make your customers wait, the more likely they are to get frustrated and take their business elsewhere.

Here’s an example that illustrates this point:

You call a company and get put on hold for what feels like hours, only to be told that the person you need to talk to is with another customer and will be with you “in just a minute.”

Or you’re calling about an order, and the person on the other end of the line transfers you to another department. The next person takes your information, transfers you again, and then when you finally reach someone else who can help, she asks if you can call back at another time or day because she’s on her lunch break.

This is something that can be easily avoided by companies with a little planning.

It starts with having enough people on staff so that there are never any delays in answering calls or responding to emails. And even if there are people out sick or on vacation, it’s important to have a plan in place for helping customers who aren’t able to get through straight away.

Having someone monitor incoming calls while someone else handles other issues would be ideal and it’s important to know where your employees’ strengths lie so that they’re not trying to do jobs they aren’t qualified for.

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10. Ignoring social media comments and questions

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Social media is a way for customers to express their opinions and ask questions about your company and its products. When you ignore these comments and questions, it sends a clear message: Your company doesn’t care about what your customers think or have to say.

You can avoid this practice by taking a few simple steps:

First, when someone posts on social media with a question or comment, make sure it’s monitored. This can be done by using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to set up notifications for keywords in the comments so that they’ll pop up on your screen as soon as they’re posted.

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Next, answer your customer’s questions quickly, within 24 hours if possible. And don’t use canned responses or boilerplate text. Use real words that reflect how much time and thought went into responding to that particular comment/question.

For example, encourage employees to respond in a personal way whenever possible. For example, if someone asks how long it will take for their order to ship or when their product will arrive, try saying something like “I’m so sorry that didn’t come in on time! Let me see what happened with this order and I’ll get back to you ASAP.”

Be careful not to overdo it though; remember that customers have short attention spans and don’t want to read through long paragraphs of text to get an answer.

And finally, follow up with the customer after answering their question. Let them know how their problem was resolved (if applicable) so they know you’re still there for them if they need anything else.

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Final words

The bottom line is that good customer service starts with a culture of respect and empathy. This means that companies need to hire people who are empathetic, who can put themselves in the consumers’ shoes, and then train them in the best ways to help them.

Keep in mind that this is a huge opportunity to make a lasting impression on your customers, and if you’re going to be in business for the long haul, it’s something that needs to be taken seriously.

You can use the examples we’ve listed above to learn how not to run your business. The tips and tricks we’ve outlined in this post will also help you provide a stellar customer experience for your customers and make sure they keep coming back for more!

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.