Your guide to send customers running for the door with bad customer service

A Guide to Losing Customers (And How to Avoid Bad Customer Service)

More than one million people sift through tweets about customer service on a weekly basis. And, 80 percent of those tweets are negative. Hashtags like #badservice and #waiting are new megaphones customers use to shout their grievances with companies who deliver bad customer service experiences.

If you’re a company who drives customer frustrations to the height of airing the details online, you’ll lose those customers. Even worse, the one million people sifting through tweets will hear about the bad service and take their business elsewhere, too.

The customer service experiences your agents deliver largely determine how many customers you keep, and how many you lose. To see what drives customers to share their negative experiences online, then leave, I jumped on the one-million-person bandwagon to find some tweets about bad customer service. With those messages in mind, we created a list of what drives customers to quit doing business with your company.

Here’s your guide to losing customers, and what you can do to avoid getting flagged with the badge of dishonor – #badservice.

How to lose customers

1. Keep your agents headed for the door.

Your seasoned agents know the right way to communicate with your customers. They have tons of knowledge about your products and services, and they hand that knowledge off to your customers. Plus, they know the behaviors of your typical customer – how they think, speak, and act. The more agents you lose, the more experience and company-specific knowledge you lose along with them. Then, your customers deal with the frustrations of new agents who aren’t fully ramped and well-versed in your customer-speak. Often times, this means new agents have to pass customers around to different agents or departments to solve complex problems.

Being passed around to multiple agents = bad customer service

How to avoid it.

Keep your agents in their seats. Create career paths and development opportunities for your team of agents, so they have a reason to grow with your company. Schedule regular 1:1 conversations. Fit opportunities for their development into your daily routine, so they know you’re dedicated to their success. Then, they’ll stick around to share that success with your customers.

2. Put money before the needs of your customers.

Loyal customers are 10 times more likely to repeat purchases with your company. And, 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your most loyal customers. But, you can count on those customers ditching you for the competition if you’re stingy during tough times. Like in the case of a canceled flight. Your customers shouldn’t have to pay duplicate fees or buy an extra plane ticket because of circumstances out of their control. Put your customers first in the short-term, and the payout will be much higher than the $200 voucher you hand out to fix a customer’s problem.

No compensation for a canceled flight = bad service

How to avoid it.

Take the needs of your customers into consideration. Empower your agents to remedy a bad situation for your customer, even when your company isn’t at fault. And, even if it means compensating customers for their losses. Your customers repeat business after a gesture of goodwill makes up for those in-the-moment losses, and then some.

3. Blame the customer.

Pointing fingers and placing blame gets stamped with a big fat no during customer service interactions. There’s nothing worse than calling in for help, only to leave the interaction worse off. Then, not only is your customer dealing with the persisting issue, but they’re even more frustrated with their overall customer experience. Blame the customer, and lose the customer.

blaming the customer = bad customer service

How to avoid it.

Be empathetic with your customers, regardless of fault. Don’t point fingers or place blame. Instead, train your agents to listen to your customer’s issue and find a resolution that benefits both the customer and your company. Coach them to find the source of the problem, so they can proactively solve future problems, too. And, if it turns out that your customer was at fault, offer up a five-minute training session and some resources to get them back on track. Your customers will leave the call feeling satisfied, and they’ll be empowered with new knowledge to problem-solve for themselves later on.

4. Don’t optimize your customer journey regularly.

When you don’t listen to your customers, they leave. And, when you don’t address poor service after your agents deliver a bad experience, you end up with a whole string of frustrating experiences. Your CSAT and NPS surveys give you a direct line to your customers’ minds. And, interaction recordings and transcriptions let you see where your agents need help, so you can improve the customer journey. When you tap into these resources, then refuse to act on what you find, you create a difficult path for your customers to get help. That makes for repeats of bad experiences, regularly.

Taking weeks to respond = bad customer service

How to avoid it. 

Send out CSAT surveys to get feedback on customer experiences. After each poor experience, readjust to improve for your customers the next time around. And, review agent-customer interactions regularly. Use A.I. and bots to search through interactions for trigger words, like “cancel” and “frustrated,” then deliver them to your manager’s queue for review. Dig into those interactions and find out what went wrong. Coach your agents to fix any issues you spot.

Want to learn how to jampack your weeks with better coaching and training for your agents? Head over to Your Call Center Manager Playbook!


5. Don’t coach your agents regularly.

Inaccurate answers and slow response times are the byproducts of untrained agents. Agents that don’t have the coaching they need won’t be empowered to make decisions for customers, even in dire circumstances. You can bet on this: if you leave a customer with no hot water during a Polar Vortex bringing temps colder than Antarctica and Mars, they won’t be a repeat customer.

Not helping customers in emergencies = bad customer service

How to avoid it.

Empower your team to help customers without asking for approval. Give your agents the resources and autonomy they need to do what’s right for your customers. And, keep special circumstances in mind. Prioritize emergency situations and concerns that pop up out of the norm. Don’t let strict protocol and procedures dictate the service you give your customers under special circumstances. (Yeah, a negative 60-degree Windchill counts as a special circumstance.)

6. Don’t meet your customers where they are.

Not meeting customers where they are = bad customer service

The ever-evolving customer expects you to meet them where they are. Yes, even if it means climbing four flights of stairs. Because they know if you won’t, your competitors will. Failing to deliver a truly omni-channel experience means leaving valuable customers hanging without answers. Ignoring customers doesn’t make their problem go away. When you get direct messages on Twitter and Facebook, but they go unanswered for days, you’re driving customers into the arms of more responsive competitors.

ignoring customers = bad customer service

How to avoid it.

Use an omni-channel contact center platform and consolidate every customer interaction into a single queue. Use skills-based routing to send customers to the right set of agents. Set up monitoring for your social media accounts and point those interactions to the same queue, too. Then, your agents won’t miss a beat or forget to address messages on channels that can be tricky to keep up with.

7. Let your KPIs and wait times slip.

Metrics aren’t everything, but metrics still matter. And key metrics like average speed of answer and first call resolution seriously impact how many customers you keep. Two-thirds of your customers will only wait on hold for two minutes or less. And 34 percent of people won’t call back once they hang up. Instead, they’ll head straight for the door. Or, they’ll let their anger build up for a few weeks, then quit. Either way, the cards aren’t in your favor when you let customer wait times fall short of expectations.

Not being available on channels your customers need = bad customer service

Similarly, some 86 percent of customers expect their issue to be resolved on the first call. And when you don’t deliver on that metric, your CSAT scores drop 15 percent. Low CSAT scores are the gateway to lost customers.

Taking weeks to resolve customer problems = bad customer service

How to avoid it.

For starters, pack in more training hours for your agents. Spend time shelling out feedback and sitting down with your agents to talk about performance, metrics, and how they feel about their jobs. A study by MetricNet found that a lack of agent training may be the cause of consistently low FCR. And, contact centers that delivered 50+ hours of annual agent training had a higher than average FCR. Next up, make metrics more visible to your agents. Share dashboards with your team, so they can see how they’re tracking towards their goals. Then they have the insight they need to auto adjust when they’re off course. The added visibility keeps them on track with their KPIs, so your customers get the best possible experience.

Ready to take the next step in bad-service prevention? Choose a contact center platform that works for your agents, so they can always deliver positive customer service experiences. Request a demo.