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Customer Service Pet Peeves That’ll Make Your Customers Cringe in 2020

SmarterCX Team
December 19, 2019

5 minute read

There’s no shortage of pet peeves in the field of customer service, both from the professional and the consumer point-of-view. Despite advances in emerging tech, self-service, and cute robots, the majority of customers still expect to communicate with a human in times of need, and even the smallest snafu by human — or robot — can break an experience.

We asked CX professionals for their biggest gripes and pet peeves when it comes to service, and here are 10 they listed as most likely to make customers cringe in 2020.

Inconsistent information

“As a customer, it drives me crazy that I can contact customer support with a question and get an answer that I don’t think is correct, then call back, get a different customer support rep, ask the same question and get a completely different answer. Which one is correct? (The one that benefits me the most!)”

  • Shep Hyken, customer service/experience expert and NY Times bestselling author

Taking self-service too far

“My biggest pet peeve is definitely those situations where you as the consumer are told to follow up yourself. Like: ‘I haven’t heard anything about my order being shipped, though it’s been a week. Can you see if it’s about to be shipped?’ And the agent responds with: ‘Give it few days and call us again if it hasn’t been shipped,’ or something like that to insinuate that this is mainly the consumer’s issue.

I had a great experience not too long ago when I purchased two pairs of running tights, and none of the items I received looked anything like the pictures or descriptions. I had to contact the webshop. And boy were they helpful!

A service agent told me to let her know as soon as I had returned the remaining item, and she would make sure to track the shipment, follow up with the store to handle my return, make sure I got extra discount on the item I would keep — and a discount for 60% to make me stay a customer.

And, she actually kept me well-informed [with] ‘Now the store has received your return,’ and, ‘Now they have handled the return,’ etc.

I have never felt such ease with being helped. ”

Treating humans like transactions

“One of my biggest pet peeves is directly addressing people as a customer. To me, the word ‘customer’ instantly conjures thoughts of the cold hard cash I’ve parted with to be part of whatever service or product it is I’m dealing with. It’s a constant reminder that the only reason the service agent or call handler I’m speaking with is there is because of money.

Where possible, we always refer to paying customers as members of our community. It may sound cheesy, but which would you prefer to be — another paying customer or an actual member of something meaningful?”

Lack of passion

“Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with someone who is indifferent. As a business owner, you want your employees to be passionate about your product or service. Without this passion, even if they provide good service, the consumer will feel that absence. The things that are done to provide good service will seem disingenuous without that light of passion beneath it. Help spark that passion in an employee who doesn’t have it yet by getting to know them better, figuring out where their interests lie, and where you can maximize that within your business. That light will be there in no time.”

  • Paul Farmer, VP Marketing, Woodtex

Lack of respect

“It might be day 1 of customer service training but it’s regularly something people get wrong — don’t be rude.

Regardless of what mood you’re in, put a smile on your face and give the customer an experience they want again, because there will be other companies offering the same products or services.

Bottom line: Bad service is remembered longer than a bad price.”

The dreaded phone loop

“I absolutely hate it when I am forced to go through a phone loop from one recorded message to another, selecting choices and hoping it will get me to the right person. I have stayed with the same credit card company because they have the option where I can hit “0” at any time and get to a CSR immediately.”

  • Christiane Soto, Senior Content Manager, Oracle

Too slow

“If the customer service [rep] isn’t able to respond to my query quickly, then it affects my train of thought. I am no longer interested in getting my query resolved.”

  • Karthik Subramanian, Content Marketer, Paperflite

Robotic responses

“As a former employee who handled more than 10,000 customer service calls in my career, I understand that we have to follow scripted responses for common questions. This often times fulfills the needs of company policies (and we didn’t get reprimanded for going off track). But it leads to a poor customer service experience. You sound like a robot instead of providing service to the customer.

As a business owner now, I understand that customers need personal support with their questions as real-life human beings. The gold standard is if the problem is resolved or not. I often times jump in the customer service email queue and answer questions personally myself, providing more personal feedback than I would expect to [receive].

[To] anybody reading this right now: the best customer service is how you would expect to treat your loved ones and friends if they were to do business with your company.”

Poisonous humor

“Here’s an especially insidious pet peeve: disparaging cross-talk among a customer service team about customers.

It seems almost understandable when someone adds ‘What an idiot!’ as a note in a help ticket. We want to empathize with our colleagues’ pain in shared mutterings. Humor helps the day go by. But watch out! [This] humor is poison.”

Lack of human interaction

“When providing service, I really get annoyed by people that don’t come back to say whether something I suggested worked or not. I am not a psychic!

As a consumer, I dislike companies that make it incredibly difficult to speak to an actual person. If I am trying to do so, it generally means I have tried self-service and it hasn’t worked. It’s not like I am ringing up for a casual chat.”

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience.
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