Sucky Customer Service: the Rule and Not the Exception


Customer service seems to be a truly endangered species.


These days it seems a "response" passes for a "solution" and people think it's okay to tell you they're "too busy" to deal with you professionally. When did that become okay to say?


I just had a customer service rep ignore what I said in my introduction,

Me: "Hello, I have model number x, I've left a message via your website and also on this 800 # and no one has responded. Can you help me with a replacement part for the product? It's still under warranty."

Her: "What is the model number?" (not "I'm sorry no one has responded, please allow me to help you." Or "Sorry, could you give that to me again?")

Me: "I just gave you the model number" then I gave it to her again, noting that she ignored that I left it in the voicemail and in the email.

Her: "That's what I just axed you!" (Oh, I'm so sorry to inconvenience you with this request to replace a part for the SECOND time on your very expensive product, still under warranty.)

Then she transfers me to a voicemail box with no name attached to it and I left a message which may or may not have been received.


And why don't I know if the message cut off before I finished? Because my AT&T service failed to complete the call AGAIN. After several failed call attempts on the 3G network, I switched to Edge network and the call failed again.

I was delighted to read this 9 Worst Ways to Use Twitter for Business especially after being chased by AT&T social media customer rep yesterday. After a request to send info via DM, about a dozen tweets of 140 characters each, his response? Call the 800#. Well, THAT's certainly a value-add! How lucky I am that AT&T has a social media dedicated rep.

Since the AT&T /Apple iPhone issue has been ongoing for over a year now, I asked if they could have someone who actually would read my case notes, call me. Oh. No. They don't make outbound calls. I have to call a call center and take my luck with any old rep and start my story from SQUARE ONE.


Lest we revert to nostalgic feelings of good old days before the Internet and call center days, let me share another recent example, perhaps the most egregious in some ways, as it involves face-to-face interactions with a new, small business in our neighborhood which we wanted to support. I was introduced to this shop through a blogger event. I was impressed and told my husband about it. He visited on his own and was impressed enough to make a large purchase and to give his name and address personally to the store owner for email and snailmail updates.

What happened next is a classic case of "adding insult to injury."

First, we got a bulk mail postcard with the incorrect name at our address. Second, when I called it to the attention of an employee in the store, I gave our correct info. When I offered the feedback to the store owner via the website, I got no response at all. Assuming that it's a new small business and he might actually want the proper info for his database, the info to feedback to the person he bought the list from, and to offer us an apology, maybe, I got instead: "Oh, I didn't think you needed a response."

Then, "we're too busy to input our customer data correctly or to check it against the mailing list that we bought."

Know what I heard? "We're too busy to care about you and your business. We don't care if the mailing list we got insults our potential customers by bungling their names. We don't care if you took the time to give us your proper info TWICE and took the time to give us feedback on the site contact form as well as in person. In short, we don't care about you and your business."


Just to pull it all together, I shared some info with a "guru" on Twitter who was asking about customer service experiences and got nothing in response. Not even a thanks. Guess what I'll do with his next request to RT his info?


So many ways to mess up customer retention. Here are a few ways to correct the problem:

1. Make a product that works.

2. If it doesn't, then make sure your customer knows you care.

3. If you have a call center answering these calls, make sure that they are handling your customers with respect.

4. If you buy a mailing list get assurances that the names are vetted.

5. If a customer tells you about a bad experience, don't make them feel worse about the time they wasted bringing you this valuable feedback.


Rant over.