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Why Customer Service Just Plain Sucks
Why Customer Service Just Plain Sucks

Why Customer Service Just Plain Sucks

Holding Hands Ever wonder why customer service just plain sucks in so many cases?  Ever wonder why?   Perhaps you’ve been just so amazed, like ‘made your whole day’ amazed, when you actually receive good customer service?

A lot of it just plain comes down to a pure desire for the provider to care, passionately care, about the job they’re doing…for you.  After all, it isn’t about ‘where’ the service came from, or ‘who’ provided it, or ‘what’ they were providing it on.

Here in the U.S. it can be popular sport to gripe about the latest ‘terrible’ customer service experience.  All too often we blame it on some poor sap in India, sitting amidst 4 b’zillion other reps, that can’t speak ‘my’ language, and hasn’t gotten a clue.  Hey, I’ve been there, got the shirt, sure you do too.

Yet at the same time, I have also gotten truly fabulous service from those same individuals.  Yes, the deck can be stacked against them (poorly paid, employer doesn’t really care, yaddi, yaddi, yaddi).  But if the person truly cares you can tell.  As humans we can instinctually tell if the other person is even trying…and quite often trying is enough… We want to feel the other party is at least (honestly) trying to help us.

Providing support, aka customer service, is just like any other ‘job.’  There are those there just to punch the clock, and there are those who truly excel at serving others.  And, the two types stand out as clearly as a baby screeching during Sunday church.  I know.  I have had what is likely a rather unique experience.  In the same lifetime <g>, I have worked the phones providing customer support; been a product manager with responsibility for the product support function; and, offshored support to teams internationally.

Sure, there can be challenges, and maybe you can never eliminate enough of them to deliver the world’s best support experience, but having a passion for delivering support can go a long way toward overcoming the hurdles.  The passion is what drives you to truly want to help the customer—your customer. Time, after time, after time.

While we all provide some form of customer service, I speak most to those who do it for a living:  Do you do your job as a means of getting paid?  Or, do you really feel strongly about taking care of your customer, of making them feel good about the experience?  Do you chase down issues that take longer than the 3.6 minutes considered ‘good’ for calls of your type?  If you do, I commend you, and thank you.  We need more of you!  If not, try, just once, to see if you can really put your whole self into solving the next customer’s problem.  See if you feel better for having done so. Try.  I dare you!  :)


(photo credit: Andy Reis)


  1. Chuck van der Linden

    been there and got 7 years plus worth of shirts. But often it was hard, because being focused on truly meeting the customer’s needs and solving their problems resulted in ‘the wrong numbers’ for all of the things your managers used to judge your ‘performance’ Longer calls, fewer calls per day, etc. In fact the only number that looked ‘good’ if it was ever considered was ‘did they have to call back again regarding the same issue’.

    IMHO most of the people who get jobs in support truly WANT to help the customer But then they come up against policies and goals (short calls, taking lots of calls per day) that create incentives to just ‘get rid’ of the caller as rapidly as possible without regard to if their issue is resolved. And these reps start to resent the customers who have tough or tricky problems, or can’t explain what they want very well, and thus cause their ‘numbers’ to suffer. This causes people to get jaded or burn out, and just punch the clock.

    It’s not the people on the phone that have become the death of good support, but the people managing them that are to blame.

    Those places that have good support usually manage to a different standard. The numbers they care about are ‘problems solved’ and ‘delighted customers’ and they empower their people to do what’s needed to solve the customer’s problems without silly statistics like call length and calls per hour.

    1. JT

      Hello Chuck,

      Good point, glad you brought it up.

      Makes me reflect on a point earlier in life as a support tech. I worked for a smaller, very customer-oriented company. After being acquired by a larger firm, metrics slowly worked their way into our lives. Measuring, reporting, justifying. Customer service, at times, seemed to become a ‘problem mitigation’ activity more than a customer service activity.


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