When we think of poor customer service, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the way we’ve been treated by an individual – either over the telephone or face-to-face. But much of the frustration we have comes as a result of poor decision making in organizations, resulting in counterproductive processes and policies. (These technically fall under the umbrella of “Customer Experience,” but most customers don’t make this distinction)
You know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve all had those ‘what are they thinking?’ experiences when trying to do business with a company. Like the prototypical voice-mail hell, or draconian no-refund policies. Sometimes they are just a result of simple errors in judgement. But all too often they come out of the brains of head office folks who are absolutely convinced of their cleverness. Although they will deny it in public, a great number of companies consider ‘customer service’ as a cost – a necessary evil – that they just wish would go away. Here are the top 10 (in no particular order):
1. Automated Checkouts: Home Depot, Lowes, etc – Designed not for our convenience, but to reduce staffing costs (Hey – our customers will never notice)
2. Hidden Pricing: All airlines – The ad says you can fly from Toronto to Washington for $69. (Just try to ignore those pesky $350 in fees and surcharges)
3. Hidden Customer Support: Facebook, Banks, Telcos– Just try to find their contact info on their website. You’re continually directed to self-serve options, with any real contact information either hidden or non-existent
4. IVR Systems: Telcos, Utilities, Airlines – Hey – maybe the customer won’t notice that we’ve forced them to jump through 5 minutes of hoops. Or, even better – maybe they’ll hang up (that’s not cynical- some companies really plan for that). Bean counters love them, but always forget to factor in the hidden cost of uber-annoyed customers.
5. No return – credit note only: Zillions of retailers – They are so short-sighted in trying to hang on to that buck you gave them last week, they don’t realize the experience keeps people away in droves.
6. Cattle-herding: Ikea- We create a maze that forces customers through the whole store. Golly we’re clever! But hey, how come the customers who only need one or two things never seem to come back?
7. Re-directing: Telcos, Banks – When you finally find their telephone support line, the first thing it does is suggest you go to the website. Great idea, except the reason you’re calling is because their website is messed up.
8. Untrained and Outsourced: Everywhere -And companies wonder why customers aren’t loyal.
9. Reward the New, Ignore the Old: Telcos – Great deals for new customers. Long term customers get…wait for it…nothing.And companies wonder why customers aren’t loyal
10. Zero empowerment: Almost all retailers and call centers – When there’s a problem, God forbid they allow the employee to can just fix it. Companies are petrified that their employees will make poor decisions. Hey, gee, what if you TRAINED them?
So there you have it – the top ten. Did I miss any?