Why is Customer Service Still so Bad?

 In Rick Conlow

Why is customer service so bad, so often? I published this question in a post in LinkedIn in 2017, updated two years after, and again now. It engaged 976 comments and over 56,000 likes with many more readers. Clearly it is an issue that irritates so many of us. Now, notice the slight change in the title of the post.

Why is Customer Service Still so Bad?The big debate now is whether customer service is getting better or worse. We would hope it would improve with added research on the profitability of good service, with new product innovations, greater competition, and advanced technologies.

CX management technology has helped….and hurt. Expectations are higher. Customers have significantly  more options, but the reality often fails to be delivered. Why? Because employees and customer do not always know how to use the technology to its fullest capacity, or it has defects which causes new complaints. In addition, customers are much more impatient now. According to research, customer loyalty comes from:

  1. High quality products or services,
  2. A brand’s promise,
  3. The customer service to back it up.

Yet, companies often make it too complicated to deliver on the promise. While organizations try to delight customers in creative ways, Steve Jobs quote rings truer today than ever.

I have seen research that says, if you do not do the first two steps above right, your customer service can’t save you. Yet, if you do the first two well but give poor customer service, you lose. Research by HBR shows that customers are 4X more likely to leave and become disloyal because of a poor customer service interaction. Unfortunately, customer service teams are the forgotten people. Executives hype customer service teams but do not give enough substance to support them to help and keep customers.

Overall, how good or bad is the customer experience you receive? What does the research say?

Why is Customer Service Still so Bad?I know it depends on the company and even the person. Yet, overall, how would you rate the service delivered by companies? Check out these statistics from research on what’s really happening. Then give a rating…at least mentally.

  • 50% of service agents fail to answer customer questions appropriately.
  • 66% of customers went to a competitor due to bad service.
  • 70% of the buying experience is based on the way the customer feels they are being treated.
  • 73% of customers cite incompetent and rude customer support.
  • 75% of customers say it takes too long to reach a live person for help.
  • 78% of customers ended a business relationship due to bad service.
  • 80% of the daily one million customer service tweets are negative.
  • 86% of customers will not buy from a company with negative online reviews.
  • 87% of companies are at elementary levels related to the quality of their customer experience.
  • 96% of customers don’t actually tell a company about their complaints, and 25% of all customers have some level of complaint at any one time.

In addition:

  • 80% of CEO’s believe they deliver superior customer service, yet when customers are surveyed only 8% believe this.
  • 89% of customers who experience poor service will leave a brand.
  • 90-95% of service problems are management related according to Deming, Juran and Crosby.
  • 95% of unhappy customers tell others and will tell three times as many people as happy customers.

Why is ccustomer service still so bad?So what is your overall rating, now? Is customer service getting better or worse?

April is International Customer Loyalty Month. It’s a reminder to all of us that the customer has the power. The American Customer Satisfaction Institute (ACSI) has been rating service since 1994. The overall rating was 74.2 at the end of the year. As of the fourth quarter 2022, with over 500 companies included, it’s 73.2! That is at best a C average. Isn’t it time that companies and employees alike renew their commitment to the highest levels of quality and service? What do you think?

Every month should be customer service month. If we need a given month to focus, we have lost sight of the daily importance of the customer and their experiences every time.

Why is Customer Service Still so Bad?Want to learn how to serve the customer better as an organization? Check out this complimentary whitepaper: The Customer has the Power!

Maybe you want to enhance your individual skills or your teams, see Rick’s book, Superstar Customer Service: A 31 Days Plan for Individuals to Improve Client Relations, Lock in New Customers, and Keep the Best Ones Coming Back for More.

Why is Customer Service Still so Bad?Want to become a leader that makes a positive difference on people and this world leader? See this: 21 Servant Leadership Training Lessons.

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