7 Ways Bad Customer Service Drives People Insane (Rant)

Call centres are one of, if not the most important places for business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions to happen. Relationships are made over the phone, so companies know they need to deliver a fantastic customer service.

As Customers, we have all been there, unable to get an answer to a simple question. As managers and business owners however we know it is a struggle to find staff who can do that.

Find me someone who has NEVER had a bad experience with a call centre and I'll find you a pint of Fosters that actually tastes nice - It's not going to happen.

Whether it be long waiting times, misinformation or having the delight of hearing everything that's happening behind an agent through their microphone, bad customer service from call centres is a sure-fire way to lose customers.

'I Hate Call Centres'

Apparently, we all share one thing in common in my office: the hatred of poor customer service. All I had to say was "What do you hate about call centers?" and it set everyone off.

Forget talking about the weather, maybe us Brits should just talk about our experiences with crap customer service!

I feel sorry for call center representatives, knowing everyone shares a common hatred towards them. It doesn't stop us hating them, though... and yes, this blog is just an excuse to have a good moan - sorry call agents!

1 - Waiting to be Connected

Listening to that bloody dreary music, getting your hopes up every time it stops, just to hear another monotonous flute solo.

Sometimes the music isn't actually that bad, but the quality most certainly is! Have they gone on a mission to find the worst quality music available? I'm no sound buff, but I know tinny, echoey, static-infused music when I hear it!
Oh, and the irony when you hear "Your call is very important to us" as you pass the ten-minute mark.

After 30 seconds pass, I'm already starting to get impatient so ten minutes is mind-numbing. After this point, they have pretty much lost me.
Even if the agent comes back to deliver a fantastic experience, they need to do well to drag us up from the deep dark depths we have sunken into while waiting.

Making customers wait around is a guaranteed way to get a bad review or land a lovely message with @yourcompany on Twitter for the world to see.

Take a look at onholdwith.com - These are the customers who are just using the phrase "on hold." Imagine how many others are complaining on-top of that!


2 - Background Noise

You've finally been connected to someone, only to be greeted not just one agent, but the whole center (lucky you!)

As far as the customer is concerned, the agent might as well be speaking in another language, as they try to decipher which question is being aimed at them out of the 20 they can hear.

But why are they so loud? Well, I'm not here to answer that, not in this blog, but if you want to know why, and how to combat it, check out Why Are Call Agents So Loud.

As a customer, one of two things happen:

  • You feel like the agent is shouting at you. Not good. It's the customers that are meant to do the shouting, not the agents!
  • You have to ask them to repeat the question, and the next, and the one after that. Not only does it frustrate the customer, but also the agent.

Do you turn up the volume so you can hear the agent better? Well, you could, but then you also get to listen to the static and buzz of the center a lot louder too. It's a lose-lose.

3 - 'Sorry, There's Nothing I Can Do Here' 

Uh oh. You've spent ages calling, explaining your problem, waiting on hold, just to be told "There's nothing they can do" or "Try ringing another number or emailing someone else".

You're furious. Enough time has been wasted for what seems to be a simple request.

So, what's stopped the agent from helping you?

It might be a genuine reason; it happens. Other times it may be because their managers haven't empowered their agents to make decisions.

(RANT START) Managers, if you want your agents to help your customers, you have to give them the ability to do so! Otherwise, what's the point of them? (RANT END)

We don't know if the agent has the authority to sort it out, but assume they do! So, the agent gets the blame, after all, they are there to help resolve our issue.

4 - Overseas Call Centres

Just to make this clear, we don't have anything against the people in these centres. It's not their fault they've been put through to us angry sods.

Language barriers and accents can be a huge problem, though. When you have to keep repeating yourself, or asking them to, it's only making matters worse.

Not only this, but sometimes the call sounds like it's coming from the other side of the world! (I know it literally is, but I don't want it to sound that way on a call).

The connection breaks up; their voice seems to get fuzzy, louder, then quieter. As if it wasn't hard enough trying to get your issues sorted before!

If you're going to outsource, do it right for goodness’ sake! (Hint: STAFF TRAINING HELPS)

BT was one of the worst for this. I say "was" because they've finally seen the light and decided to bring all call centres back to the UK by 2020

5 - Giving Incorrect Information

Support team shouldn't tell you a lie. Sometimes it might well be an accident, due to a lack of knowledge or training, but it is still unacceptable.

A few times I've been promised refunds or extras added onto my order by the agent, only for them never to come to fruition. Then when you go back to complain, there's no trace of it! Or the new agent tells you that the company doesn't offer what you were promised.

Making false promises will always come back to haunt you. I feel many may do so just to shut the customer up, which points to a bigger internal problem.

We've been around long enough now to recognise the signs. Such as when an agent starts their sentence with "I think" or "I believe so" it's usually an indication that we're about to be told something that might not be correct.

I'd much rather that they didn't follow their instinct to give me an answer ASAP, but take a minute to find out the real answer. We'd all be happier to wait for a minute and be given the truth, than quickly receive some something made up to keep us quiet.

Basically, don't offer me a big juicy discount if you know I won't get it. That's just cruel.

I hate customer service operatives that do this (Yes, it's gotten too personal!).

6 - Robots

So you would like to speak to someone, is that right?

At the front of the battlefield, many centres get robots to initially take the call.

I get why it's a good idea. Rather than use operators time finding out routine information, they can waste your time instead.

"Please state your date of birth."

"15th of November, 1986."

"Did you say, 50th of December 1986?"

Give me strength. If you are going to use robots, put some effort into them and think carefully what is an appropriate response. Answering a couple of questions is fair enough, but after that, it just gets tiresome!


7 - Press 1 to be Put Through to...

So, you quickly want to get an issue resolved, but something is stopping you.

The dreaded task of navigating through a series of menus on your keypad.

First of all, you can guarantee the option you want will be read out last. Then, there'll be another set of options which will take just as long to listen to. If you're unlucky, there'll be even more sets for after that.

But there's another issue. What if you don't know which section your problem falls into?

Do you hazard a guess and risk having to start all over again? Or do you have to listen through them all again to try and figure out which one you should give a go? Sometimes we need to call upon Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery!

At least if you try again, you know which numbers you need and don't need so you can speed through the options... That is unless they don't activate the key tones until they have finished listing all the options

How to Improve Call Center Customer Service

Managing and working in a call center is no easy task and I don't think anyone their right mind would say it is.

However, if businesses want to deliver the best customer experience possible, they have to learn what's causing the unsatisfactory ones. It's likely these poor calls and interactions will be occurring regularly but could by flying under the radar.

Gaining feedback from customers after they communicate with agents and evaluating the poorer ones. No-one knows the service you're providing better than those who receive it.

Cxceed makes it easy to do just that, and we've written a full post about how it does just that which you can read here.

The Wrap-Up

What's the worse thing that has happened to you when talking to a call center? And managers, how do you deal with these problems?


Let us know below!

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