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Reasons for Customer Service Debacle.
By Shep Hyken
Friday, 15th August 2014
A while ago†a major cable and Internet provider made 'headline' news when a customer recorded a call to the companyís customer service center.† All the customer wanted to do was terminate his service.

The customer service agent proceeded to ask questions as to why the customer would want to disconnect.† The agent made statements about this company being the best at what they do and providing the best price.†

Essentially, the agent wouldnít accept that the customer simply, for whatever reason, wanted to terminate the service.† After a few minutes, the customer put the call on speakerphone and recorded the conversation with his iPhone. In total, the call went on for over 15 minutes. The agent wouldnít let up.† The call was a disaster. The customer posted the recording of the call on social media and the incident went viral.

This isnít about that specific company or incident; it is just an example of a problem.† It could have happened to any company. It doesnít have to be in a call center. It can be on the front line of any type of business. So, letís not focus on the company, but rather the incident and what we can learn from it.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThere are a number of reasons this type of call or customer service debacle happens.† Here are three:

Lack of clear objectives.† If you have followed my books, articles and videos I write about getting into alignment. The question is, ďDoes the employee understand our goal when it comes to customer service?Ē

Itís more than being nice. Itís very definable, easily articulated and simple to understand. It could be tied to a brand promise. For example, my friends at Ace Hardware want to be the most helpful retail stores on the planet.† All an employee has to do is ask him or herself, ďIs what Iím doing now helpful for the customer?

Lack of training. Iím amazed at how certain companies put their employees in customer-facing positions without the proper training Ė and not just technical training; relationship training.† While some companies complain about the high cost of training, what is the cost of losing a customer because you didnít spend the time or money to properly train?†

Some of my clients put their employees through weeks of training before they let them work on the front line. It is hard to imagine that a properly trained person would have handled the customer support call like the cable companyís agent did.

The lack of balance between making money and providing a positive experience. Revenue is the lifeblood of a company, until it costs you the customer.† Putting revenue over a customerís needs can cost more long term when the customer realizes they were overcharged or sold something they didnít need and chooses to find another company that is more customer friendly.

In the cable company example, perhaps there was an incentive tied to retaining defecting customers. You canít keep every customer. Not that you shouldnít try, but there is a time that you have to let go. Obviously, the cable company agent didnít know when to let go. Treat the customer with dignity and respect, even if he or she chooses not to do business with you.† Finish strong!

There are certainly many more reasons that customer service can fail, but these three reasons are a good springboard to a more in-depth conversation with your team. See what other reasons you can think of and feel free to leave a comment sharing what you came up with.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focusô customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep Hyken - Reprinted with permission)
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