17 Things I Hate About Customer Service

Frustrated Customer Service AgentWe recently asked our customer service representatives two simple questions.  What do you love about customer service and what do you hate about customer service?  The challenge was to answer in one sentence for each.  Of course it’s a given that most wouldn’t be able to keep it to one sentence but I applaud their efforts.

I am tasked with sharing the “hates” with you and while hate is a strong word, it is a very real emotion.  Take a moment to browse through these responses from my customer service team and then I will share what I think can be gained from this.

Cliché answer but I what I “hate” is irate customers who blame the front lines for issues that are obviously out of our control so they refuse to calm down or listen or understand.

The customer that has no respect for you and is unwilling to give you a chance make things right for them!!

I strongly dislike customers that think they’re right..ALWAYS. True, there are times when we are wrong. We can’t help it, we’re human. But, when customers don’t care two hoots of what you think but want you to listen to them fully. oh my jeez, it grinds my gears.

I hate it when customer is just not in a good mood and takes it out on you!

When there is a lack of respect, proper communication and willingness to work together on both ends or on one of the ends. When someone is calling to just complain and crucify the other person (customer service rep)- projecting their frustrations because they can …because it’s customer service. But as soon as they realize that they need to be a part of the resolution (patience and udnerstanding and all….)- they just raise their voices even more or throw darts regarding such matters that are less important or have no association with what they called about. Also…when it’s the other way around. When the other person who feels entitled because they know all (because they work for the company) and treat the customer like they are idiots. Are there really such thing as stupid questions? I think not especially if you’re genuinely asking for guidance.

I hate when the customer I am assisting takes their frustration out on me as if the issue they encountered is my fault.

“People”

I hate when customers have an air of entitlement to your service. When they treat you like dirt beneath their shoes that needs to be washed, sanitized, and thrown in the nearest incinerator. Yes, I understand you are paying for my service, and I appreciate your business. But please treat me like a human being.

The customers who call in thinking by being angry they will get things done faster.

Not having the answer for the customer right on the spot.

Dealing with really mean people!!!! I also dislike feeling helpless–not being able to resolve a problem for a customer is nerve-racking.

When customers have an entitlement complex and overblown expectations of the level of customer service we can provide.

Hate is a strong word, but what I dislike about is the industry “stereotype” we as customer service reps get tagged with. I do think Customer Service gets a bad rap (for valid reasons in some cases) and sometimes we have to deal with bitter people who have bad experiences, but getting them to realize we are not the typical Customer Service brand is really cool!

Language barriers

The thing I hate about customer service is when they are wanting something done, but they are not willing to work with you to achieve a resolution.

Unable to do anything and being punished for it.

When things become out of my control.

From one simple question there is a lot to learn.  Here’s what I learned and perhaps re-learned.

  1. Customer service representatives take a lot of abuse and it’s so easy for upper management to tell them to suck it up and do the job they are paid to do.
  2. Shep Hyken says “Treat your staff as well as you want them to treat your customers–maybe better.”  This quote has never rung more true.
  3. Great customer service professionals are masters at understanding people, displaying empathy and diffusing conflict.
  4. Some customer service professionals put MacGyver to shame.  Depending on how well equipped and empowered they are, they are often asked to prevent bombs from detonating with very few tools to work with.
  5. This is a question every company should be asking their customer service team often.  Hopefully your company culture and personal ego allows for them to be honest in their responses without fear of consequence.  If it does not, you may continually be asking why turnover in customer service and your customer churn rate is high.

Finally you ask what I hate about customer service?  I hate it when I have exhausted all possible solutions and resources within the company and cannot find a solution for a customer within a reasonable time frame.

Here’s to creating more reasons for our customer service teams to love customer service.  I can’t wait to read Jenny’s post on 17 Things I Love About Customer Service.

My question to you is what do you hate about customer service?  Leave us a comment or tell us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Jeremy Watkin is a Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2 comments

  • I feel you so much. I’m a hardcore introvert with a short temper as well. Due to the crisis in my country, I’ve had to work in customer service jobs several times because I needed the money and other jobs were not really available. The main issues of this type of jobs are these:

    1. It’s a ‘service’ type of thing. Once you make people believe that you ‘serve’ them, you instantly come face to face with a bunch of snobs, psychos and overly egocentric customers who take their sweet time to enjoy the feeling of being ‘served’ and will make sure to make most out of it!
    2. The bosses. Bosses are masters of giving commands that they can never fulfill themselves. They pay people to do things they either can’t do or aren’t in the mood to do them but have the irrational demands of you to do them and in an unrealistically perfect way as well.
    3. The ridiculous ‘must’ behavior. Don’t get me wrong, I know that when you are in a customer service job you have to act properly and treat people with respect and kindness. That’s all nice and understandable. But being nice, respectful and proper is planets away from acting like a compulsively fake continually ‘smiling’ doll with the role of the clown for each customer’s ‘entertainment’. You are not a party clown, nor are you there to entertain anyone. You have a strictly professional relation with the customers which must be conducted with tactfulness and kindness…not with ridiculousness. The whole ”smile all the time, make jokes, do all of their favors, do this, be like this, do that,etc..”, thing is completely paranoid in my opinion and it only serves to further exhaust and irritate the people who have to tolerate all this cr@p and serve the customers all at the same time.
    Even extroverts, who are usually more social and expressive, are often exhausted by all this charade, and it becomes obvious too because no matter how social or friendly you are, if what you do is fake and forced, that will come out in your face and your behavior as well, you can’t help it.

    Bosses of customer service jobs need to remember that their workers are people and not robots that can be programmed to be ‘perfect’. They have to respect their workers and their natural characters and not force them to do a bunch of stupid and irrational things just for the same of looking ‘nice’. I think a lot of business owners often forget that they are dealing with people with rights rather than machines or archaic slaves who would do anything with no questioning.

    • I had two customer service jobs and hated them both. It wasn’t the work. It was having to be fake. I hated the way some of my co-workers fawned all over the customers just to get a good rating and make more money but I don’t think they really cared about the customers one way or the other. I hated making small talk that meant nothing and joking around and getting personal with strangers. I don’t see why employees can’t just do their jobs while being respectful and polite. I agree with everything you said.

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