5 Lessons Learned from Customer Service Failures

This guest post is written by Erica Strother Marois, the Community Specialist at ICMI

We’ve all been on the receiving end of poor customer service. Long wait times, annoying IVRs, unforgiving return policies, and a lack of channel options can all be maddening. And inevitably, these frustrations spill over to the front line employees. Customer service is more complex and stressful than ever, and ICMI research indicates that the industry is only growing more complicated.

What can customer service leaders do to alleviate stress and improve the customer experience? To answer that, we turn to some of the most infamous customer service failures in recent history. (After all, some of the best insight comes from the biggest failures).

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I Tried To Text Domino’s for Pizza And Had a Horrible Customer Experience

Tired of ordering pizza over the phone? Domino’s understands—that’s why they’ve launched AnyWare, letting you “order your favorite oven-baked goodness on your favorite devices.”

I’m not going to lie—this is a pretty awesome use case (in theory). With AnyWare, you can text, tweet and even use your Smart TV to order pizza and more, and all you have to do is send a pizza emoji.

Continue reading I Tried To Text Domino’s for Pizza And Had a Horrible Customer Experience

These Overused IVR Phrases Have Got to Go

Almost every IVR contains one of these frustrating phrases:

  • “Please listen carefully, as our menu has changed.”

  • “We are currently assisting other customers. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”

  • “You can find information on our website at…”

When working with an integrated voice response (IVR) system, there are a number of things you have to take into consideration. Although IVR lets companies handle multiple customers at once, the prompts can become redundant, driving customers to hang up or bypass the menu altogether.

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Everyone Hates Phone Trees

“I really appreciate Company X’s large confusing phone tree!”

– said no one ever.

We all know the drill – we need something from Company X, but Company X can’t afford to staff an army to answer phones, so they wave the magic “phone tree” wand, spin us in a few circles, and hope that somehow we will be happy with that.

For me this translates into one single mode of operation when dealing with companies: try to avoid – at all costs – having to call them. I don’t want to listen to their menus. I don’t want to be put on hold. I don’t want to enter my account information multiple times because your magic phone tree isn’t powerful enough to remember it.

The funny part to me is that the money-saving phone tree systems typically cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I didn’t go to “Enterprise Business School”, but I’m pretty sure spending that much money to irritate your customers is bad for business. Especially when there are significantly cheaper better options available.

Not every automated phone system is terrible. I once called Comcast and was pleasantly surprised to hear something like the following (I’m paraphrasing here):

“Hi Jeremy, thanks for calling customer support. We’re pretty busy right now, so would you like us to call you back when someone’s available?”

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! They know who I am without me entering some 20 digit account number! They know I want to talk to someone! They don’t want to waste my time!

Of course, this kind of “custom” solution costs a fortune and requires an entire team of consultants and developers, right? Nope. There are solutions out there, including OneReach, that are affordable and can be set up by anyone with basic computer skills.

Consider this your customer support PSA: don’t go chasing after those “cost effective” phone tree systems just so you can give your customer’s the run-around. Find a better solution, one that treats customers like people.

Elitch’s Phone Tree of Doom

Had this experience yesterday: my wife and I had free tickets for our kids to go to Elitch Garden’s amusement park, but didn’t know if we could use them on a holiday. My wife called them up and got their automated voice system.

Now she needed an actual person to talk to, but as is par for the course, this phone tree was trying to prevent her getting one easily. And yep, they succeeded in that goal.

Press 0 if you’d like to speak to an operator.” She did, heard a beep, then got disconnected. She tried this five more times, and each time the system hung up on her.

We didn’t want to make the 30-minute drive with three hyped-up kids only to find out at the gates that our tickets weren’t valid, so she kept calling. At this point, the phone number stopped working altogether: “We’re sorry, we cannot connect you to that number…” My guess is that their phone system wasn’t able to handle the holiday call volume.

Double-fail. Sorry, but at this point, I was willing to change all our plans just because I couldn’t talk to someone on their end. Hopefully someone from Elitch Gardens will read this and get a phone system that doesn’t lose them business.