When Bad Customer Service Happens – And What to Do About It


Since the festive period, we have seen some of the UK’s worst floods and winds for some years, particularly because they came so suddenly. Tens of thousands of us were without power from 24th December, and the subsequent damage and delays have severely affected many businesses, not least those that rely on transport.

Couriers and delivery companies don’t get the best rep most of the time because as consumers, we are an impatient bunch. With the popularity of review sites like Review Centre or Trust Pilot, people are more likely to leave a bad review, than a good one. Exacerbating the issue is that while most provide a customer service function for their clients – i.e. the retailers – very few have the resources to deal with all consumer enquiries, leading to frustration.

The aforementioned inclement weather has subsequently left a severe dent in the industry. People do not care for excuses about the weather – they just want their deliveries when they expect them, undamaged and complete.

Sadly, for one large independent courier, things went very wrong. Thousands of stories appeared online that people received half a consignment, that the courier’s tracking system wasn’t working, they were missing a package after weeks of waiting, they’ve been met with damaged/wet goods; even rude delivery drivers were blasted, clearly stressed at the situation and suffering the brunt of consumers’ feelings as the “face” of the company. Also, many felt that posting a negative review was the only option for making contact, as speaking to someone, or getting a response via email, was reportedly impossible due to the lack of company resources. It was in fact the courier’s Sales and Marketing Manager who ended up furiously tracking down consignments and making personal calls to consumers to ease the situation.

I spoke to someone recently who had a conversation with an employee. Under the surface, it was depot floods, IT issues and a lack of staff that had blighted the company. They openly admitted that they had not planned for the weather, and that their usual service rarely called for consumer engagement; only their business customers were catered for when it came to customer service. Their previous glowing record had been tainted.

This clearly highlighted the complete absence of any care for the end consumers, who were also bombarding the retailers with complaints. They had a small customer service function, but it wasn’t intended for anyone but their clients. Let’s not forget at this stage that everyone is responsible for customer care; from the Sales and Marketing Manager to the delivery drivers, whether you have a customer service function or not, everyone carries “the company badge.”

Every company should have a strategic approach to customer service that incorporates multi-channel contact, is all-inclusive of employees, and is certainly proactive. Not once did this company contact its customers or recipients to advise of the issues. Business customers were still promising delivery schedules to their customers, and naturally, they were angry, and let the world know about it.

At the very least, a contact number and email that was answered would have been a start. A sophisticated contact centre with all the nuts and bolts isn’t for every company, but a joined-up model that meant issues were resolved quickly and to the satisfaction of both the customer and the recipient would have stopped the negative feedback and often, malicious threats towards the company. Proper workforce management could have seen the customer care team engaging with people sooner, and temporary staff – from delivery drivers to customer care agents – easily scheduled to meet demand.

In effect, the company looked like it just didn’t care. It will be a long time before they are able to restore the confidence of their customers and those consumers unfortunate enough to have had a consignment with them during this period. Sadly, the web has a long shelf-life, and the negativity will serve as a reminder that there is much to be done to improve the customer experience, end-to-end.


One thought on “When Bad Customer Service Happens – And What to Do About It

  1. I completely agree Steve. This is a hot button of mine and particularly at the moment – I’m on the very sharp end of some very bad customer service and they just don’t care at all. It is very short-term thinking and not strategically intelligent.

Comments are closed.