The 5 REAL Worst Customer Service Mistakes

I recently stumbled across an article entitled “The 5 Worst Customer Service Mistakes“, written by no less of a luminary than the CEO of a company. While it admirably addresses the top-level view, it struck me as “ivory-tower” thinking, and does nothing for a typical customer like me.

Sadly, the author does not invite comments, which is alarming in itself. So in the interest of completion and respectful rebuttal, here is my “sea-level” version of “The 5 Worst Customer Service Mistakes”

  1. Trying to keep your customers away from real people: When I hear “Our options have changed”, I interpret that as meaning “someone got through to a real person and we changed the system to block that path”. Solution: pay someone to answer the phone. The customer will be pleasantly surprised.
  2. Outsourcing customer support: Outsourced customer support does not care about your business. If they are paid by the number of calls they field, they will do anything to get the customer off the phone as fast as possible. We can tell if they are juggling calls, and that does not impress us. And yes, we can tell if English is not their first language, and that impresses us even less. (Hello Dell!)
  3. Not answering the question: How many times have you e-mailed customer support and got a boilerplate reply that does not answer the question? (EBAY/PAYPAL ARE YOU LISTENING? Evidently not…)
  4. Disempowered CSRs: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” does not cut it. Sorry does not solve my problem. They need to be able to fix the problem. And often they either cannot or will not. There is more to Customer Service than telling the customer: “Sorry, but NO”.
  5. Biased Surveys: Most post-support surveys dwell on whether the CSR was polite and respectful, not whether they were competent. “Are you satisfied, and if not why not?” is the only question that matters. Offering the option for a callback would be a win here.
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