• Social Studies Blog. How to succeed in social business.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Customer Service.

    slapI can’t tell you how many times I have gone to mega stores, utility providers, websites, or food chains and been dished up an open handed customer service slap.

    Horrible customer service isn’t just painful….it’s bad business! We recently asked when is it the proper time to swear at your customers in a video made at Dreamforce 2013 and got some pretty hilarious responses, but in reality you have to keep a level head on a daily basis for success. If you are a big company, give it the mom and pop touch, or have fun with it like the famous Netflix rep did by treating the conversation as if the two were in a Star Trek scenario. Humor can cut through and loosen up the mood, even in the worst of times. You’re there to help your customers, not to do battle.

    Here are a few recent experiences I’ve been through:



    I don’t eat pizza all the time, but when I do I want the best, and San Francisco has some of the best food culture out there. It’s usually between Tony’s in North Beach or Patxi’s, which has multiple locations and a deep dish pie that makes my mouth water. A few weeks back, I was lazy and in the mood for deep dish, so I ordered from Patxi’s online and waited… and waited… and waited. I know it takes time to make the deep dish, but it was well over an hour by the time it came. The delivery guy left and we tore into the pizza. It wasn’t bad, but we noticed right away that it was the wrong pizza and the guy was gone. It’s a $30.00 pie, so that didn’t sit well with me. I complained about the issues to their online customer service rep, and he ended up not only refunding my money, but sending me a coupon for a free deep dish. WOW! This kind of service really makes a company stand out, especially compared with some of the other guys…



    slow-internetFALSE PROMISES:
    I knew my internet was slow, but when my buddy Dennis did a test on it with his phone, I was shocked by the results — under 1 MB of download and upload speeds! I have had some legendary issues with AT&T in the past, but this was ridiculous. I called and had them up the service to their top speed in my area. All that did was put shoes on a snail. I now range around 1 MB for upload and download speed. That’s close to the dial up speeds of bygone days. I went through the grueling process of getting an agent on the phone who quickly informed me that it is “up to 6 MB of speed.” “OK,” I said, “I understand that your product doesn’t function well in one the world’s largest tech cities, so why do I have to pay more money than almost any other city for an inferior product? Can I get a discount, because your service fails to meet expectations.” Short answer was no. I tried posting on their community board, but not one responded… It got lost in their system. Which is bad, but not as bad as…



    I realized my HSA banking account with Benefit Wallet was low on funds. This account is for medical and very important, so I got online and tried to set up auto funds transfer from my checking account. The link was broken and returned an internal server error. I tried it on three different browsers… No good. I looked for a help section on the site… Nothing. I found a simple contact form, but with no contact information. Immediately I broke into a cold sweat. This is a sign that a company doesn’t want to be bothered by its customers, the people who pay it’s bills. I wrote a message. In a day, I received a message back telling me to call. They gave me a phone number, so I called and a woman told me to contact via the site. I told her I did that, so she said to wait a few days  and then try the link again, followed by hanging up on me. I’ve been calling and sending form messages for the last month and the link is still broken. I did some investigation and found out it’s a Xerox company. I contacted their corporate office… Nothing.

    This is how companies lose customers.

    So, now I’m going to cancel my HSA and start the search for a new internet provider. It could have been really easy to implement a turnkey solution such as a customer community that keeps customers engaged, providing outcome resolution through discussion and support solutions. I do feel that the tide is turning on many of the mega companies that felt their products/services were so needed that they didn’t have to engage their customers. I personally hope for a day where support is a quick and efficient medium for all companies.

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    Joe R

    About Joe R

    Joe started his design career by working in art departments for a few companies and then moved onto building his own business, which he ran for seven years. Through this time he became well versed in many design mediums, including UI/UX, print and video production / editing. He has been the Senior designer at Get Satisfaction since January of 2013.


    1. Wonderful post Joe,

      Some companies easily forget that the reason they are in business or even still in business is due to their customers, treat your customers badly, and you will be surprised how fast they will melt away from you.

      But, in a case where the market has been monopolized by a single company, the customers are grudgingly being forced to patronize them. A very good example is a company in Nigeria. They have monopolize the commodity market ( especially rice), and because of this factor, the way they treat their customers is so bad, but people don’t have choice, they just have to go back again and make the purchase from them.

      Your post highlight a key factor that a serious competitive company can take advantage of.

      Thanks for sharing.

    2. After 30 days, calling Benefits Wallet three separate times and spending nearly three hours on the phone with them, I hadn’t even succeeded in getting an account set up. During the last call which lasted over an hour and in which I was transferred to four separate people, I requested to speak to a supervisor six times. They declined each time. I told them with each request that if they could not allow me to speak to a supervisor that they were ensuring I would go to their competitor. Each time they basically said “go ahead that their hands were tied because I did not have an account, I couldn’t speak to a supervisor.” No one seemed to care that it was my third attempt to create an account and that each of the previous times I was told everything was fine.

      Five minutes into the final call, it became clear to me that to give these guys any of my money would be lunacy on my part. Usually the horrible customer service is reserved for after they’ve already got you roped in as a customer. So I have to say they get points for being horrible right from the beginning. Anyone who manages to sign up with them should know right away that they are gonna suffer for this service.

    3. May I simply say what a comfort to uncover someone that actually knows what they’re discussing over
      the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
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      you most certainly possess the gift.

    4. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to
      be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
      I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with
      web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you
      know. The design and style look great though!

      Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Thanks

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