Customer Service Horror Stories


Contact center managers: Are you aware that 42 percent of your customers would rather scrub a toilet than get on the phone with one of your representatives? Why are consumers so turned off by  the idea of reaching out for support?

In a collection of poor customer service experiences compiled by people skills coach Kate Nasser, a number of individuals describe their experiences with contact center representatives.

Perhaps the most egregious submission came from an individual named Joe S.:

customer service horror storiesI had spent well over three hours on the phone with customer service/tech support, having been repeatedly put on hold, transferred, and disconnected. I called back after yet another disconnection after being on hold for several minutes. The person who answered started to go into their script, asking me for irrelevant information. I told the person that I just needed to be connected to XYZ because I had been disconnected after being on the phone with them for over three hours. The rep went to a very long speech about how he’d be happy to transfer me. I didn’t need a speech. I just needed him to transfer me. I told him this. He repeated the speech. His scripted “inhuman courteousness” just made me angry and hate the company. 

This customer’s experience ran the gamut of poor support on behalf of the contact center—from the time it took to resolve the issue, repetitive script-reading, poor engagement and a lack of empathy.

Experiences like this have the ability to stop individuals from continuing to do business with your organization. Worse, if someone with an experience like this decides to share his or her story with friends and family, the story that he or she tells may be turning potential customers away in favor of a competitor.

The significance of superior customer service cannot be understated. In fact, Gartner research indicates that, due to greater competition and growing consumer power, traditional product and service-based differentiation have now taken a backseat to customer experience in giving organizations a competitive edge.

So how could the aforementioned case have been handled differently?

For starters, a contact center that deploys a cutting-edge self-service interactive text response or IVR system empowers customers to resolve simple matters on their own.

If the contact center in question had leveraged solutions that enabled easy access to a caller’s information, each concurrent agent that picked up the phone would have known exactly why the individual was calling without having to begin again. This would have led to a faster resolution, and avoided the “inhuman courteousness” perceived by the caller.

Don’t scare off your customers with poor service experiences. Empower them instead with self-service tools and knowledgeable human interactions when they need it.

Chris O'Brien