In every business, customer service plays a vital role in its growth and development. But different companies have different ways and approaches they use when engaging their customers, which is a significant variance. When it comes to customer service, even in companies in the same industry, there is no one-size-fits-all service delivery. Some companies will flourish while others fail based on the kind of customer service they offer. However, some bad customer service experiences are easy to understand. In contrast, others will leave your customers in awe, wondering why a company would commit such a mistake if they are looking to keep their business afloat. This article will discuss terrible customer service experiences that companies put their clients through and what they can learn from the mistakes.

Hiding Behind “Company Policy”
As your organization grows, you need to incorporate more internal structures to manage and regulate your business. It is mostly in organizational policies and rules that ensure the customers have a consistent experience. These rules made for the business's benefit often end up being a roadblock to customer experiences and satisfaction.
An example would be in a grocery store where an item's price is higher than the prices online. When a customer asks to pay for the price indicated on the online platform, the employee refuses and claims the company policy does not allow price reduction. It presents a clear case of an opportunity to prove that their customers matter, but they were restricted by the company policy, leaving the customer unsatisfied and creating the opportunity for conflict.

The lesson: Do not bog down your practices with arbitrary policies that do more harm than good. Enforce reasonably written policies, but allow opportunities for exceptions as inconsistencies and unforeseen complications arise.

Ignoring Your Customer's Electronic Contacts
Advancement in technology has brought so many ways businesses can stay connected with their clients. About two-thirds of small businesses have a website, which usually has a contact page. Social media has opened various avenues that enable organizations to respond to customers' feedback and offer assistance as well. With all these tools at our disposal both as consumers to contact and entrepreneurs to respond, it has never been easier to maintain open communication with the people you do business with. Ignoring customer contacts is much worse than the unsatisfactory responses of saying no to unreasonable requests. Unresponsiveness often shows that your organization does not care or value the customer's contacts and feedback and will lead to public complaints that can damage your business’ reputation.

An example would be an online complaint made by a client. If a package that a customer ordered came damaged or missing pieces, they would reach out to have it replaced and/or the missing parts sent. If that customer cannot reach you and does not get a prompt response, it takes seconds for them to go to Google, Yelp, or your Facebook page to leave a negative review for the world to see. Getting negative customer reviews removed is expensive and time-consuming. It is easier to solve the problem early. Your customer service team's prompt response is crucial as it will calm a frustrated client and get their problem fixed before it blows up.

The lesson: Prioritize your company’s responsiveness to customer contacts. Aim for quick response times to prevent reputation damage online.

Leaving Them on Hold for Too Long
Much like electronic communication, phone communication done wrong can backfire for a company offering customer service. Waiting is the most frustrating thing you can put your customers through, particularly to address a problem. For scalability reasons, many large companies are using more and more automated systems that vary in their quality and ability to assist the customer. By the time a customer reaches an actual human being, they will have already been on hold for an extended period. Depending on your business hours, customers may have to call during their work time and do not have the ability to remain on hold for extended lengths of time. It is possible that you could be losing clients merely because they lose patience waiting around on hold.

An excellent example of a case where a customer is left on hold goes as follows. The customer waited for more than 10 hours to get informed his initial complaint got denied because of an internal system error. The customer called back, and his complaint got solved, but the company claimed they did not have the previous call documentation. It is considered incompetence on the organization's part, even if a faulty system caused it. The problem was only resolved because the customer was persistent enough to follow up after the first disappointing incident.

The lesson: Do not make your customers wait any longer than necessary on hold. Customers will be frustrated at the time cost associated with their inquiry, and frustrating automated systems will only escalate tensions.

Compromising Your Customer's Privacy
When personal information is a currency traded by tech-giants like Google and Facebook, it is vital to keep your customers’ personal information protected. It will ensure the customers trust you and feel safe using their services. Keeping customers’ data secure is important enough to fuel an entire security industry built, but it is not just in the online world that you must think about proper discretion. In-person privacy issues can cause embarrassment for your clients.

An example would be when a customer's card gets declined at your clerk's desk in the store, and instead of the clerk being discreet, they blurt out to the customer about the issue making it known to everyone in the store. It could be extremely embarrassing for them and the other customers in the store. Depending on your business, discussing confidential matters between employees where other customers might hear can also compromise important information, and could open you up to litigation depending on the violation and the local laws in your area.

The lesson: Properly guard your customers’ information. Keep information about who you do business with between you and them, and do not discuss private customer account information in an unsecure way (even between employees).

Customer service can be challenging for a business of every size. There are always going to be unforeseen problems with the products and services you provide, so being able to efficiently and professionally manage those situations can make or break your business’ reputation. Make sure you and your employees are trained to resolve conflicts and consider using an LMS platform to keep the standards and service metrics for your business clear. Armed with proper training and dedicated consideration of the customer’s needs and importance, you can deliver customer service that will set you apart from your competition.

Author's Bio: 

Reggie Moore is a professional writer and proto-entrepreneur. When not trying to tinker with a new thing, process, or idea, Reggie can usually be found saying the words “Well, actually…” to an unsuspecting bystander.