Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service

My guest blogger today is Meredith Estep, Vice President of Client Services with Unitiv. Unitiv is a provider of IT solutions based in Alpharetta, Georgia. You can find Meredith's regular blog posts at Intelligent Help Desk Blog.

I've followed Meredith's writing for some time, and I'm always impressed with how she gets to the heart of what is important. This post, the Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service, is a great checklist to pass around to the team just as  a reminder of those negative customer service behaviors that we all trip over - usually unintentionally.

Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service - by Meredith Estep

In customer service, it only takes one negative incident to lose a client for life. In this article, we will take a look at ten common characteristics of bad customer service with the purpose of showing alternatives that would serve customers much more efficiently and positively.

1. Failing to greet customers when they walk in the door.
A customer that is not acknowledged upon entering your business will not feel like the valuable commodity that they are.

2. Hanging up on an angry customer.
No one likes being yelled at, but disgruntled customers sometimes need time to vent before dealing with their concerns in a rational manner. If the customer becomes abusive, get a manager. Never hang up on a customer.

3. Eating in front of customers.
No one wants to watch someone eat their lunch - or even a mid-morning donut. Leave the food for the break room and keep your mouth clear for talking to your customers.

4. Putting a call on hold without asking first.
It is a simple courtesy to ask before putting someone on hold.  In addition, you are less likely to have the customer hang up in frustration when the elevator music starts to blare.

5. Avoiding eye contact with a customer.
When you are talking to someone, you want to know that other person is listening to what you say. Customer service representatives who do not make eye contact look rude at best, and downright shifty or dishonest to others.

6. Socializing with other employees when customers are present.
Customers do not care to hear about your plans for Friday night. Unless you are asking a question about your customer's business specifically, stop all personal conversations until there are no customers in the vicinity.

7. Forgetting to use common courtesies.
"Please" and "thank you" are mainstays in customer service. Unfortunately, they are not used nearly as often as they should be. Common niceties exude professionalism, as well as courtesy, and should be used without fail.

8. Yelling at a customer.
Let the customer vent and then deal with their complaint in a calm, rational manner.

9. Using technical jargon when talking to customers.
You do not need to talk down to your customers, but it is helpful to use language they understand when explaining company policies and procedures. Leave the technical jargon for your coworkers.

10. Complaining about the company to customers.
There are no exceptions to this rule.  There is never an appropriate time to bad-mouth your own company to a customer.  This could potentially cost your company money or even lose the customer altogether.

Bad customer service is prevalent today, but it is not hard to overcome. By studying the bad, you can replace it with stellar service that will boost your customer base and your profits.