3 Critical Customer Service Disasters That Totally Are Preventable


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The 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer by American Express found that 74% of Americans spent more money with companies that had previously provided them exceptional customer service.

The survey also found that customers are far more likely to tell friends about negative customer experiences than positive ones.

No matter how much time and effort you spend on customer service training, there’s always going to be a few battles that cannot be won. But the risk of extinction-level failure can be averted by heeding the following advice.

Dreaded Data Breach

A pyrrhic victory is one gained at far too great a cost. Target Corporation provided a good example of one in business during 2013.

The Minneapolis-based retail chain exceeded earnings expectations in Q2 that year. But Q3 numbers were far below what was anticipated. Despite the downturn, Target opened 32 new stores in North America that quarter instead of addressing the issues that led to the drop in revenues. It was a day after Christmas that year when Target reported the data breach affecting 110 million of its customer. Fourth quarter profits fell by almost 50 percent as a result of the breach, according to a Forbes report.

Worms and virus are evolving and getting more sophisticated everyday. It’s becoming more difficult for IT security personnel to keep up. IBM recommends companies develop proactive plans that include written policies and technological preventative measures. Use cloud storage for all confidential and sensitive company information. All it takes is one lost or stolen laptop with proprietary data on its hard drive to compromise the integrity and profits of your business.

Comcast Call Heard around the World

Business Insider ranked Comcast the sixth-worst company for customer service in 2014. Meanwhile 24/7 Wall St. thinks even less of the cable giant, ranking the company second-worst only to Bank of America. Things only got worse last July when customer Ryan Brock recorded and uploaded a phone call to SoundCloud between himself and a Comcast representative.

Brock called to cancel his service. But instead of the retention specialist making one attempt to keep him as a customer then obliging the request, he kept Brock on the phone for nearly 20 minutes talking in circles. The call got so bad that Brock ask the representative “Am I being punk’d right now?” Referring to the old MTV television series.

The best way to avoid situations like this altogether is to be proactive. Brock was a customer for nine years with Comcast, but obviously did not feel appreciated enough to stick around longer. Keep long-time customers engaged with special offers via emails and letters based on their past buying history. A 2013 Experian study found that emails containing coupons and other special offers generate 48 percent more revenue than deal-less promotions.

Companies with retention departments also need to train employees to make their pitch and rebuttal, then succumb if the customer is adamant in their decision.

Truth Sets You Free

Blockbuster Video sensed imminent bankruptcy when Netflix introduced its service in 1997. The company told its customers that it was ceasing its late fee policy in 2005 in an attempt to level the playing field with its new online rival. The video rental giant also wanted customers to forget about the 2001 lawsuit it settled over excessive late fees.

The problem with Blockbuster’s most recent campaign is that the company simply changed the name of “late fees.” Instead of charging customers daily penalties, they were forced to pay the full price of the movie if not returned by the due date. Blockbuster refunded the penalties once the videos were returned, but minus a $10 restocking fee, according to Business News Daily. The company was ultimately investigated by the Justice Department and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010.

Do not make promises you cannot keep. Lying will lead to a mass exodus of customers and ultimately the closure of your business. Customers should be treated the same way you would want to be treated if you decided to do business with your company. Practicing the golden rule and exercising due diligence ensures happy customers and sustained profits.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Flavio Martins
Flavio Martins is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise authentication services and high-assurance SSL certificates trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations. Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage win customer loyalty. Blog: Win the Customer!


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