Warning Signs of Poor Customer Service

By Christine James,
business.com writer
Sep 12, 2017
Image Credit: Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock

If any of these are true of your business, it's time to work on your customer care.

No one wants to admit that they have bad customer service, but denial does more harm than good. Ignoring poor customer service is the worst possible evil for businesses, but unfortunately, most identify the problem too late, when the damage has been done.

This oversight only creates a negative impact. Bad customer service destroys business reputation, profits drop along with customer loyalty, and soon you find yourself dismissing your last employee.

Some turn a blind eye to this fatal mistake until they start to lose impactful amounts of business, but you don't have to. If everything once ran like clockwork for you but the bottom line has started to shrink, and you find yourself wondering where things went wrong, you might want to take a look at your customer service.

True, your reps can't satisfy customers all the time. Anyone can make mistakes and blunders. But if you strive for success, it is in your best interest to correct snags in your system. Keep your reps and yourself accountable so that substandard service does not become habit.

You must be vigilant when it comes to customer service – always looking for these warning signs.

1. You are not using customer service as a marketing tool.

To begin with, ask yourself, "Do I view customer service as my top marketing channel?" If you are confused about the answer, this is the first warning sign. When 9 out of 10 customers in the United States are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience, you simply can't ignore your customer service as your key marketing tool.

Related article: Turn the Tide: Reconstruct Negative Publicity to Your Benefit

2. Customer complaints have stopped.

A drop in customer complaints is always good, right?

No, it is not. There is no way you can satisfy 100 percent of your customers, and a negative customer review often provides valuable feedback to improve. Ask yourself – why is it that no one is complaining anymore? Where are the customers going if they are not complaining about the issues they face? Do they believe your customer service is so bad that it is useless to even launch a complaint?  

Fewer customer complaints is not always a good thing. It is often a sign that your customer service is not doing its job.

On the flip side, a higher number of complaints than usual is also a red flag. If the complaints are about the same thing, watch out – your customer service is failing to resolve a common issue.

Related article: Top 10 Common Complaints of 2016

3. More customers' calls are answered in less time.

Isn't it good if more customers are answered? Well, no. "Speed kills" is not only true for driving, but also for customer service.

Rushed service is one of the major complaints from consumers about customer service. Apparently, customers value helpful service more than quick service. In most cases, customer service staff that is unmotivated and bitter tries to rush through the calls.

Many companies value faster response time, but be careful. When rushed, most of these customers have to call back because they missed something. If your reps are addressing the problems thoroughly, there is a good chance the customer won't have to call back again for the same problem.

Related article: Are You Listening to Your Customers? Three Ways to Make Sure You Are

4. You are still using only one communication tool.

Using only one communication channel to interact with customers is not only bad for customer service. It also means that you have no idea how quickly the world around you is changing, or you simply don't know how to deal with the changing needs of your customers.

Yes, phone support is the best communication tool for customer service, but it is not the only communication channel anymore. With smartphones and other mobile devices, people are increasingly becoming text-oriented. If they don't find an online chat option, they will not feel happy. You must offer support through multiple channels like phone, email, live chat and even social media interaction.

Related article: How to Manage Bad Reviews 

5. You have no more repeat customers.

When people switch companies, they don't do it for fun. They do because they are not satisfied with their previous experience. A drop in return customers is a major sign that your customer service is failing.

Related article: Rescue Poor Customer Service Reviews

Customer service plays a key role in your success and failure. Losing repeat customers, using only one communication channel, answering more calls in less time, and seeing a sharp drop or rise in complaints are a few major, easily identifiable signs that reflect on the poor performance of your customer service. Don't be afraid if you see any of the indicators that you have poor customer service – it doesn't have to stay that way.

Identify, admit, rectify and succeed! 

Christine believes that every customer has a voice. She is the Community Manager at HissingKitty.com (a customer complaints website) and loves talking to customers on social media about their challenges with Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been published on Huffington Post, Inc., SocialMediaToday, and Thought Catalog.
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