When a Stranger Calls (A Customer Service Horror Story)


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It’s October, and as the month progresses toward its frightening finish, some of the great psychological horror stories come to mind such as The Shining and When a Stranger Calls. While bad customer service doesn’t scare me quite as much as these stories, it can definitely be a nightmare, especially when you’re a blogger who writes about customer service best practices almost every day.

Knowing the technologies, tools and exceptionally diligent and caring people that are out there in customer support, you know just how good customer service can be. Yet you are also keenly aware when you’re experiencing support that’s horrifyingly bad, and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s like those dreams where you’re trying to run away from the monster or the bad guy, but your legs just won’t move. You just have to sit there and watch it happen….

Customer Service Nightmares

My customer service nightmare began over a week ago when I was trying to transfer cable and internet service from someone else’s name into my own. I won’t bore you with the details, but according to a ClickFox Customer Tipping Points survey, the top five customer frustrations are:

1. Having to speak with multiple agents and starting over every time.

2. Being kept on hold for long periods of time.

3. Rude or inexperienced representatives or service technicians.

4. Not getting a resolution on the first try.

5. Not being understood by IVR/speech recognition applications.

I experienced all five and more, all in one call, and a week later, my initial, unusually common customer service request remains unresolved. What a nightmare. The scariest part is that I have three similar customer service horror stories I could share, and to date, no happy endings.

When a Stranger Calls…

There were many times during my customer service nightmares this month that I thought about telling the CSRs that I worked for a customer service software company, or that I blog about customer service best practices to see if it would make a difference. If I named the companies here, this story would be fed across a number of other sites, read by thousands, and shared via social media.

But rather than dwelling on or spreading more customer service nightmares, I believe in happy endings. I want to write more about them, so here’s to customer service stories that I’m not afraid to tell, where the CSR saves the day and delivers a customer experience that’s just scary good. When a stranger calls for customer service… make sure it’s the best it can be every time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tricia Morris
Tricia Morris is a product marketing director at 8x8 with more than 20 years of experience at technology companies including Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Her focus is on customer experience, customer service, employee experience and digital transformation. Tricia has been recognized as an ICMI Top 50 Thought Leader, among the 20 Best Customer Experience Blogs You Must Follow, and among the 20 Customer Service Influencers You Must Follow.


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