Common Customer Service Mistakes That Hurt Business

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – Paul McCartney

bad customer service comic

Randall McIlwaine’s comic vision of bad customer service

Chances are you don’t need to be told how important customer care is. You’ve probably been on both sides of the spectrum. As a consumer you’ve dealt with the good and the bad and shaped your opinion of that company as a result, and conversely, as a worker in any department, you’ve likely represented your company (on purpose or not) in a way that has influenced someone’s opinion about your business.

Let’s start with the takeaway right out of the gate: Exceptional customer service should never be taken lightly. It can make or break your business and thanks to technology, we’ve been blessed with a world of the 24 hour customer. No matter the hour, your customers still expect the best from any company they pay for a service. And if your company has clients worldwide, you need to be prepared to meet the needs of those customers. If they can’t reach you in their time of need, then why would they stick around? These companies do themselves a BIG disservice if they don’t acknowledge customers in a timely manner and offer 24/7 support.

While being accessible is a huge part of providing exceptional customer service, it is only the beginning. There are many other errors that companies make in their attempt to provide the best customer service experience possible. Here are a few things that companies need to avoid in their search quest.

Three Ways to Lose Your Customers with Bad Service:

1. Not listening! 

I hate it when I’m on the phone with a customer service representative and mid-sentence, they attempt to answer my question. Already knowing the answer, I ask myself if they are mind readers or just plain rude? If the famous mid-sentence interruption has ever happened to you, there’s probably a good chance that you weren’t being listened to.

Some say that truly listening and connecting with your customers cannot be done over the telephone. I disagree. The ability to listen, like anything else is a skill, and fortunately for some people, it is a skill that can be learned. With today’s technology, it is virtually impossible (pun intended) to not listen to your customer. Social media has taken the forefront in customers getting businesses attention. It only takes one 140 character comment to describe hours’ worth of bad customer service. And these messages, good or bad, should always be responded to!

Providing feedback to the customer is the best way to let them know that you were listening and that you do care. When dealing with customers, representatives need to remember to concentrate on the customer’s words and not to make assumptions. Stop, focus and try to reflect on how the customer sees the issue, not how you perceive it. Having a little patience can go a long way. Let them finish their sentence!

2.  Not understanding customer expectations!

Companies need to know and understand what their customer expects from them. It is very important to communicate expectations early in the process and also to keep those expectations updated throughout the entire process. There’s a simple reason for that: a company can never meet expectations, let alone EXCEED them, if they do not completely understand what they are.

Your business needs to understand that if they can’t provide what the customer expects, someone else will. Making assumptions will lead you down a road to nowhere fast. When expectations are met, your customers are happy. And happy customers are more likely to spread the word of their experiences. However, when expectations are not met, those happy customer turn into not-so-happy customers.  It is a well-known fact that, not only will all of those experiences be shared as well, but they will more than likely be broadcast in a much louder fashion.

Even though no company will ever have an easy road meeting every client expectation, the goal is to give it your all.

3.  Breaking promises!

It doesn’t matter now polite you are, no customer likes it when they feel like they’ve been lied to. We want to give the customer everything that they could ever imagine needing, but unfortunately, this is something that we are not always able to do.

An important key to building long lasting customer relationships is to be honest. Your business should understand exactly what a client/potential clients’ needs are before making a promise to the customer. We all want to close the deal, but misleading the customer to get it is not acceptable.  When someone calls in looking for service, listen to their needs to determine which of your products work best for them. If it turns out that you don’t offer what they’re seeking, let them know. You can even pull a Miracle on 34th Street from time to time and suggest a product with another company if you know that it will work for them.

I’m sure none of this is particularly revolutionary, but it’s easy to find yourself going against these three easy rules!

Good customer service tips can’t be effective unless you put them to good use. These items are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to providing excellent customer service. It takes hard work to really impact your customers with the best care possible. In the end, you want to leave them with a lasting impression that you will keep them around and if you’re lucky, they will want to share it!

2013-09-16T08:53:10+00:00 September 16th, 2013|

One Comment

  1. D. October 16, 2013 at 8:35 am - Reply

    Great post Valerie! What’s scary is the fact that many of these mistakes are preventable, all it takes is a bit of customer service training and in my opinion a bit of personality, to correct these mistakes. If you don’t have that, you can always look to a mystery shopping company like SQM (, to evaluate the quality of your companies customer service representatives. Although it can be costly, a mystery shopper program can spotlight mistakes like these before they are experienced by an actual customer. The businesses owner can then take the data and make the necessary adjustments to his or her staff!

    At the end of the day, it’s sad to see people who are getting paid to help you, provide you with no help at all. Not every customer is easy to deal with but if you have a simple problem that needs a resolution, it shouldn’t be that difficult!


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