Bad Customer Service, Change to Win!

 In Rick Conlow

Have you ever been so frustrated with bad customer service that you wanted to scream? My family and I moved recently. I also moved my business. So we had to do all of the things required to change vendors for a variety of services. One company after another failed in their customer service. The companies included those related to the internet, mobile phones, utilities, newspaper, computer repair, mortgages and leasing, credit cards, delivery, CRM providers, supermarkets, the post office, and others. I consult with organizations in CX area and know of the challenges. Yet, by dealing with many companies at once as a customer, I was overwhelmingly shocked by how bad customer service it is out there! Too many people don’t do their damned jobs.

Bad Customer Service: A Torrential List

Bad Customer Service, Change to Win!Here’s an abbreviated list of problems I experienced which I am sure you have encountered at one time or another. I lived them all, multiple times in one week:

  • Promised orders not fulfilled, needing to be redone 3 or 4 times
  • Put on hold forever, then being cut off
  • Listening to endless and repetitive robotic phone answering options
  • Product not delivered anywhere near the promised date
  • Threatening letters due to the company’s own mistakes
  • Being blamed for the problem
  • No follow-up phone call or email as promised
  • Employee’s lying about product discounts
  • Multiple phony confirmation numbers
  • Slow internal systems for taking orders or tracking problems causing lengthy phone calls
  • Departments that can’t, won’t or don’t talk to one another–so you must tell your problem repeatedly, frequently five times or more
  • Different employees saying different things about what a product or service can or cannot do
  • Cap this all off with rude employees who don’t listen, communicate well, or know how to empathize
  • Oh, and you can’t reach a supervisor or manager or executive for help

Calling out one of the WORST

Can you identify with these? I normally don’t criticize companies in public but in my personal experience one company has bad customer service across the board. It’s the absolute worst I experienced. Its employees demonstrated most of the mistakes above: CenturyLink. They tout themselves as a leading provider of internet service. Their industry is among the lowest rated in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey. They are rated 58 on a scale of 1-100 (higher being better). Consumer Affairs concurs with this and rates them 1.3 on a scale of 1-5. Both of these numbers are an ‘F’ on a grading scale. Their Glassdoor rating is 2.9 which is low and an indication of employee dissatisfaction.

Other review sources show them as generally poor as well. I wasted 9-10 hours on the phone with these people this week trying to get them to do their basic jobs competently. If they’d do that, imagine how much less stressful life could be for themselves and their customers? Finally, after five failed attempts as well as interactions with over a dozen employees, I came across a couple of competent people to help.

Two Service Winners

Bad Customer Service, Change to Win!In my recent interactions with companies, very few employees were accountable, responsible, or exhibited self-leadership to get the job done well, no matter what. However, Andrew K. and the rest of the crew out of the Woodbury, MN office of Two Men and a Truck did a great job, start to finish. They have a 4.9 rating on Google. Superb! And Tony at Geek Squad did fabulous work–excellent communicator! He knows more about customer service than any CEO I ever met!

Is Bad Customer Service Increasing?

It’s as if employees in many of these organizations are in a malaise, only going through the required steps to get their paycheck. Look, the evidence has been mounting for years and I have written about it in many of my posts.

Most companies have toxic or blasé workplaces. Their priority is profit, not people. It seems that they regard their employees as merely necessary evils. Few companies really invest in people or care about their success. Most managers certainly don’t get the support they need to create positive, high-performing teams. Therefore, record numbers of employees are annoyed, disengaged and disgruntled with good reason.

Also, if someone didn’t grow up with a strong work ethic, it is the responsibility of the manager and the company to support a culture that develops it. Besides enhancing the skills of the individual, it creates happier customers, and the company thrives.

Bad Customer Service, Change to Win!As the result of all of the above, bad customer service is growing and that’s horrible news for you and me.  Yet, the good news for us as customers is that WE HAVE THE POWER. We vote with our choices and money. Eventually these poor companies will join the ranks of the many recent bankruptcies or be bought out by a larger competitor.

Apparently, “a job well done” is a thing of the past for many. But it doesn’t have to be. Dr. Luther King Jr. said it so eloquently: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived the great street sweeper who did his job well.”

By the way, do you want to enhance your career by increasing the customer experience of your department or organization today? Download this complimentary eBook guide: The Customer has the Power.

And do you want to enhance your leadership skills to drive customer-centered behaviors in employees? If so, check out this eBook, The Great Customer Experience Scam.



Rick Conlow
Rick Conlow is the CEO & Founder of Rick Conlow International, a consulting, training and coaching firm. He has helped over 200 companies such as Target, Costco, Andersen Windows, Spectrum, Northern Power, Meijer, Carpet King, International Truck, John Deere, Lowes Financial, and Canadian Linen improve customer loyalty, increase sales and add profits. Rick has been a general manager, vice president, training director, program director, and national sales trainer. He has authored 22 books, and regularly speaks at conferences and to audiences of all sizes.
Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

Have a question? Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.